Boom! Studios Surprises Fans With Angel #0 Next Wednesday: Bryan Edward Hill Fills Us In
by Hannah Means Shannon
We’ve got some surprising news today, but it’s news with a bonus interview, so make sure to read this whole piece! Boom! Studios has announced that a surprise zero issue for their new Angel series will be landing in comic shops next Wednesday, April 17th, alongside the character’s first appearance in their Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic series, in issue #4 out the same day.
They’ve been planning the launch of a series starring Angel for some time, but now the news is out in a very fan-pleasing way with a starter issue to bring us up to speed on just who this brooding Vampire is. The zero issue kicks off the monthly comic series written by Bryan Edward Hill (Batman, American Carnage) and illustrated by Gleb Melnikov (Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers), along with writer and director Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marvel’s The Avengers).
Angel #0 features a main cover and a special one-per-store “Thank You” variant cover, both by Mondo illustrator Boris Pelcer.
Series editor and Executive Editor at Boom! Studios, Jeanine Schaefer explains:
Angel instantly connected with audiences worldwide because his very existence asks a question that resonates with all of us – is it possible to find redemption or are we forever defined by our pasts? Now, more than ever, it may be a question without any clear answer. Bryan and Gleb are tackling that question head on, exploring a man quite literally combating the monster inside of him.. But even if Angel does find a way to cure his vampirism and put the horrors of his past behind him, it doesn’t mean he has a future ahead of him – especially if our favorite Slayer from Sunnydale has anything to say about it.
Now, we’re catching up with writer Bryan Edward Hill and Arune Singh, VP of Marketing at Boom! Studios to hear all the details about the zero issue below!
Hannah Means-Shannon: To start off with, what makes this the optimal time to launch the Angel series with this zero issue, whether in terms of the Buffy comic that’s running, or in terms of readership and fandom?
Arune Singh: On the business side, launching Angel with a zero issue is something that we wouldn’t be doing unless we were launching it with Buffy #4, since Angel is in Buffy #4. We wanted to surprise people. So, what we did was look at our content plan which was put together for Buffy, saw that Angel would be in issue #4, and we knew that we would be launching an Angel series. So, we asked, “Wouldn’t it be cool if those launched the same day in one of those classic Whedon twist moments?” Otherwise we would have looked at other ways to launch the series.
When you’re exploring the Buffyverse, Buffy and Angel are the two big guns, and it was always our plan to launch an Angel series. We’re lucky to have a writer as talented as Bryan Edward Hill at the helm of the series.
HMS: Awesome. Thank you. Bryan, for you creatively, what are have been some of your goals in writing the zero issue? What did you hope to accomplish there?
Bryan Edward Hill: The main thing that I wanted to do was preserve the essential qualities of the character, but also use the medium of comics to expand the nature of the experience. In comics, you don’t have to worry about budgetary constraints the way that you do in film and television, and I write all three. I wanted to take advantage of the unique form of comics to explore his past, to bring in epic qualities, so that the world gets bigger. I think it’s really important when expanding fiction in different forms that you always want to be additive rather than subtractive.
HMS: Yes, absolutely.
BEH: You want to widen the sandbox. That was the goal—to take that Joss Whedon feel—and bring in more baroque elements simultaneously.
HMS: That sounds very promising and interesting for fans. Does that mean that we might find some things in the zero issue that are new background elements for Angel which we haven’t seen before?
BEH: My goal is to make every issue surprising in some way. You’re serving two functions: one is for people like me who are intimately familiar with that character, and Buffy, and the Whedonverse, but also to bring in people that are new to all of it. You always want to do something interesting and different, and in the conversations we’ve had with Jeanine Schaeffer, my editor on this, we’ve always talked about how we can surprise people as well as satisfy them with an experience that’s familiar.
HMS: Right. I imagine with a zero issue, it’s as important to have novelty as to have core moments with the characters for people who haven’t met them before.
BEH: Absolutely. You have to establish what a character wants, and what a character needs. That’s what storytelling is. Storytelling is: I want something, I can’t get it immediately, I have to take a journey to get it, and maybe I get it, maybe I don’t. For Angel, he’s looking for a combination of redemption of purpose. And I identify with both of those searches. I’ve had periods of my life when I was looking for purpose. As an individual, I’ve been through some extreme experiences, and as an individual you carry those experiences with you, with the notion that you should turn them into something positive. You don’t always know how, right? That’s what Angel is learning. That is a strong point of identification for readers all over the place.
HMS: In my opinion, when Angel appeared on the show, Buffy, for the first time, and in his early appearances, that character seemed perhaps less mature than he would become, and he then changed and grew over time, certainly into the spin off series. Which version of Angel will we meet in the zero issue and in the series? Where is he on that timeline?
BEH: I would use slightly different verbiage. When Angel is introduced into Buffy, remember that we are seeing him from Buffy’s point of view. When Angel is in his own story, we’re seeing the world from Angel’s point of view. That shift in point of view provided a window to the inside of that character. The interesting thing about the Buffy book and the Angel book is that they sort of whisper together. Because Jordie Bellaire writes that book from Buffy’s point of view. But I’m writing Angel from his point of view. But eventually, we’ll probably get to see Buffy from Angel’s point of view, and that is the most interesting thing about that meeting.
That’s kind of what we haven’t seen on screen. We’ve never gotten to see what that introduction was like from Angel’s side of the tennis court. But I’m also making sure that we have a story that’s exciting before Buffy Summers ever comes into it.
HMS: He is an incredibly compelling character in his own right, and his world and his story are definitely fully capable of standing on their own and garnering the same kind of attention from fans.
BEH: The roots of this really go back to Gothic, Victorian literature, the Bronte-like figure. The isolated, Romantic character with deep history, emotional scars, etc. When you understand the tradition you’re working with, it’s easier to make sure it stands apart with its own flavor and tenor. We’re very excited about peeling away those layers and make sure we show sides of him that may have been hinted at but not explored, but also in original explorations of the character as well.
HMS: Regarding the art, how do you see the art style on this zero issue in comparison to the Buffy series? Do you think there’s an aesthetic difference that will impact how readers experience the book? I noticed for instance that there’s heavier inking and richer, more saturated colors.
BEH: A little bit. Angel is a character that comes from severity when he enters our story. He brings a little more of the Mike Mignola style. And when working with Gleb on the art, what I saw he was doing was excellent. I write for artists, or at least try to as much as I can, and what I’m always looking for in a collaborator is someone who can bring the emotion out in what I’m trying to do as well as add their own perspective to it. I think there is a little more severity in some of the linework, and in the way we use color. I think there’s also a rich, almost Spielbergian take on suburbia. Whedon’s work speaks to the hidden horrors behind the pleasant place. He has so much insight about that. So the art always needs to be a contrast of pleasant and horrifying, and somewhere in between. Angel himself is that. He’s an incredibly handsome guy….until he’s not (laughs).
HMS: It’s a flip!
BEH: It’s all about dichotomy. About shadow and light, morning and evening, life and death. So the art has to represent those dichotomies.
HMS: Well, it looks great. It’s very active. I look forward to seeing peoples’ reactions when they see this book. Is there anything you want to hint about the conflicts that this zero issue sets up, which we might see play out in the series to come?
BEH: All I really want to say now is that my goal is to do what I feel horror does best. We do have a few elements of comedy, action adventure, and romance as well, but I definitely want to platform some of the horror aspects. And in doing that, I am going to tackle what I believe are important issues facing young people today, particularly. I’m going to draw my fictional monsters from the real-world monstrosities that we deal with. What that means is that you’re going to get a lot of cool monsters! Readers can look forward to an all-new inhuman rogues’ gallery! And some new inhuman allies for Angel. Look for an exploration of his history and past that goes in some really interesting and far-reaching directions.
Thanks so much to Bryan Edward Hill and Arune Singh for taking part in this interview!
Look for Angel #0 next Wednesday, April 17th, in comic shops alongside Buffy the Vampire Slayer #4!