How This Crazy Thing Called ReVamp'd Got Started

In the Beginning was The Word, and The Word was Buffy…

I know, I know! Buffy isn’t actually so much a word as it is a name. Another name is Giles, and to borrow from his words…

Into every generation a slayer is born. One girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the slayer.

Together, these two special characters, the sarcastic Valley girl and brave vampire slayer, Buffy Summers, and her stuffy, but ever devoted British Watcher, Rupert Giles, along with a whole bunch of others, plus a whole lot of words, and some original illustrations, make up this website Buffy and Giles: ReVamp’d.

Every television show starts with an idea. Buffy The Vampire Slayer is no exception.

Way back in the dark ages, before the early years of the 1990s decade, an imaginative genius by the name of Joss Whedon decided to create a new kind of horror movie. Like many of us, Whedon had grown up watching countless hours of horror movie classics, films in which the young female lead in distress would invariably fall victim to the featured monster of said fictional epic. True to time honored tradition, at an inevitable thrill packed point, the featured damsel in distress in the film would scream and runhelplessly through some sinister, ominous setting, where eventually the resident heroic male figure would appear in the nick of time to rescue her.

Either that, or she would get eaten.

Somewhere in the fertile depths of Joss Whedon's mind, a epiphany began to take hold. It revolved around a simple concept. What would happen if the accepted plot featured a twist? What if, instead of simply swooning or dying when attacked by the monster, the seemingly vulnerable blonde beauty in question fought back? And not with just a weak little swat, or the odd lucky punch that allowed her to get away, but with actual skill, and enough decisive power to kick evil's ass?

And so, the premise of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was born.

Of course, Buffy the Vampire Slayer ( BTVS from here forward ) didn't start out as the phenomenon that we are familiar with today. Whedon's introduction of the character Buffy first appeared on the big screen. In July of 1992, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation released the movie version of BTVS. Kristy Swanson played the wise-cracking Valleyspeak teen who had inherited a sacred duty. Donald Sutherland was her venerable Watcher, with Luke Perry staring as the male love interest. Additional casting included Rutger Hauer in the role of Lothos, a menacing, if campy, bloodsucking vampire fiend, and Paul Reubens, who was best known for the character Pee Wee Herman of Pee Wee's Playhouse fame, was Lothos' vampire minion.

The BTVS movie was a marriage of traditional horror writing and comedy, but somewhere along the way from idea concenption to the final production of the film, certain aspects of Whedon's vision became lost in the translation. Various written articles have hinted at creative differences, and the conflicts of opinion between the writers and the director. There has even been mention of uncooperative actors. Whatever the reason, BTVS hit the theaters with less than stellar reviews, and disappointing box office revenues.

At this point most people would have given up on their dream. Luckily. at least as far as you and I are concerned, Joss Whedon is not most people. A few years later, he had another opportunity to develop his idea, this time for television. Taking the leap to the small screen, he decided to do more than simply reshoot his movie with a new cast. He treated the film as a prequel, and advanced the story's timeline accordingly, as well as relocating the story of Buffy to a new town and expanding her entourage to include several additional characters.

Moving Buffy from LA to a small town called Sunnydale, Whedon upped the monster ante by placing the local high school over a Hellmouth. This simple plot device assured writer’s copious opportunities to showcase the requisite vampires of the title’s mention, while also allowing a veritable parade featuring the Monster of the Week to thwart our assembled cast of characters.

Music was a dominant feature within the television series as well. Besides the talented Chris Beck providing background accompaniment to enhance a scene's mood, the series’ soundtrack often showcasing up and coming hits from other current musicians..

There were additional upgrades to the series’ scripts. The camp that afflicted the original movie became a fast-paced, clever repartee between characters of the series. A veritable plethora of pop culture references were irreverently thrown in for good measure, allowing biting humor to remain an integral part of the writing process. This intelligent drollness kept the scripts from becoming too unbearably dark and pretentious, even as the genuine factor of fear brought a new intensity to each week’s story. The combination of wit and terror resulted in a new television genre, one unlike anything the viewing public had seen before.

Unfortunately, the special effects in the series’ pilot were a little crude, due in good part to budgetary restraints, but the brilliance of Joss Whedon’s vision was there at last for all to see. Fox Entertainment picked up an option on the show, and with a few additional adjustments, a new pilot was shot, and subsequently aired on the WB Network as a mid-season replacement.

And the rest as they say, dear reader, is television history.

So it was that in 1996, the first two episodes of BTVS hit the television airwaves during the 8 pm Tuesday night time slot. Shown back to back in a two-hour premiere, Welcome to the Hellmouth and The Harvest served as the introductory pilot of Whedon's brainchild. Replacing Kristy Swanson as the sixteen year old Buffy Summers was former child actress, and recent Emmy winner, Sara Michelle Gellar. Veteran British actor Anthony Stewart Head assumed the mantle of stuffy librarian, Rupert Giles, Buffy's newly appointed Watcher, and replacement for Donald Sutherland’s deceased character from the original movie. Nicholas Brendon signed on as Xander Harris, the loyal side-kick with a heart of gold, a teen who kept his tongue firmly planted in his cheek at all times. Alyson Hannigan took the role of Willow Rosenberg, resident female nerd and avowed computer expert, and the slayer’s new best friend. Together, these four characters would form the core of the Scooby Gang through seven years of television viewing. Of course, there were others: Angel, Cordelia, Joyce, Jenny, Oz, Spike, Riley and Tara to name a few. These characters would leave their indelible mark upon viewers, but it is the fierce allegiance fans exhibited for the fab core that would remain forever unseated during the seven year run of the series.

Because of its mid-season replacement slot, only eleven episodes of BTVS received commission for filming. Not many people understood the premise behind this program with its unusual title. There were commercials for the show, and print ads, but most promotion happened through word of mouth. Fans slowly spread the news of this unusual program, and though the interest and rating numbers were steadily increasing by the week, the cast had no idea if the series was an actual success when filming ended that season.

Over the summer, the various actors each took off to pursue their separate careers. At some point during this rerun hiatus, the viewing audience finally clicked into this strange little show. The WB opted to pick up 22 new episodes for its fall lineup, and the cast and crew were notified to return for season two.

All together, there were seven seasons of BTVS. That made a total of 144 episodes eventually filmed. Thanks to the tenacity of its fans, the series managed to survive various thorny challenges, any of which could have predestined doom to other shows: the death and/or departure of several major characters, a move to another network, and the untimely delay of several stories due to circumstantial historical events in the news.

Like many fervent fans, I stayed tuned through it all. Week after week, I anticipated every new tale, and enjoyed each and every offered repeat. I never missed an episode, and religiously taped the show so that I could watch it over and over again.

Well, that’s not quite true. There was one particular and unavoidable fiasco. I missed Amends during its first airing. It wasn’t entirely my fault. Surgery was involved. I did manage eventually to see it, and as I now own the entire series, everything is copacetic.

I tearfully endured angst filled story arcs, at times finding it difficult to disengage from the power of fantasy as I observed the characters' pain. Though I reminded myself that these were merely fictional creations, not real people, didn’t help save me. The connection was too powerful to ignore. As improbable as it seemed, the life analogies the writers drew within the world of BTVS with its fabricated monsters touched close enough to events in my own, ordinary everyday life I could identify with the emotions the characters were experiencing. I found myself laughing, and crying, and sometimes even ranting aloud at the TV, venting my frustration or disbelief, but always craving more when the credits at the end started to roll.

Never before had I been such an ardent fan of either a television show, or a particular actor. BTVS became an addiction, one that as an adult I could afford to keep reasonably sated with commercial merchandize. I started buying magazines to read about the show, including print material from other countries, though I did draw a line and collect only those written in the English language. My local paperback vendor soon knew me by name, keeping my home phone number on hand, and calling to alert me whenever a new Buffy novel hits the shelf. The show became a responsible impetus behind what sketchy computer knowledge I have picked up over the last decade, which includes the most rudimentary understanding of HTML code.

In surfing the web for what I call Buffy Stuff, I have had the pleasure to interact with many other avid fans from around the world. I’ve learned a smattering about their cultures, and discovered the wonders of electronic audio/visual equipment through multi-regional DVD players. ( A necessity in those beginning years of syndication since the tapes were being released overseas months before they hit the American market. )

It is because of the encouraging example set forth by my many of new friends, I first tried my hand at writing fan fiction, the result of which became the impetus behind creating this, and a previous website that was know as Giles’ Flat. This new body of work, Buffy and Giles: ReVamp’d, serves as a continuing outlet for my obsession. In addition, it allows me the opportunity, as well as the joy, of sharing my accumulating body of Buffy related artwork.

After years of neglecting a previous talent, I've resurrected my long forgotten education in visual communication and design. I’ve also acquired some skills with a new tool, my home computer. Today, nearly every home is wired, and plugged in. Our children have their own laptops, and there are businesses and café locations luring us into their domains with promises of wireless internets. It’s easy to take all this convenience for granted, but way back when, in the pre-computer age, I was a poor and struggling artist, doing my drawings with crude sticks and stone tools.

Actually, it was graphite pencils, and/or pen and ink. I preferred working mostly in a black and white medium.

Nowadays, I use the computer as a tool, just as I do my favorite pens and pencils. This electronic device has enabled me to look at the process of creating an illustration from a whole new perspective. Not only can I archive my work, storing it safely away for “posterity”, but I have discovered that these marvelous machines can do other wondrous things!

It works like this...

I’ve always been a little messy when working on my art. Grease and sweat are part of my human nature, and when they are produced by hands that draw, things inevitably smear and blur. Now, this can be a good thing if you want to blend between the various shades of your media. However, it’s a bad thing when you inadvertently smudge a spot that you just spent hours perfecting. There’s a product called fixative that cures this problem. ( Think clear hair spray. It makes the pencil stick solid to the page, covering it with a protective layer. ) While it works, it can be laborious and fussy to keep going back over and over your drawing. There are noxious fumes to contend with as well. According to my husband, these lead to episodes of disorientation, and artistic moods with the overtones of a pseudo-psychedelic experience…

Oh, yeahhhhhhh, baby!

Getting back to reality. Because of these unfortunate side effects, I forgo the use of fixative if I can. This leaves me doing a lot of clean up after the fact. It’s a tedious process, and at times, a disappointing one as well.

Then a thought came to mind. What if I scan my artwork during its various stages of creation? This way, I can save it a specific point, and if for some reason things go horribly wrong, instead of crying over hours of effort gone to ruination, I can continuously return to a successful stage, and just begin again. My artistic epiphany may be as close to an act of genius as I may ever get, and it seems to be working quite nicely, thank you.

This process using the computer allows me to clean things up, and not worry that I might wear through the paper with any overzealous eraser purging. This is how I went about producing the drawings for my initial BTVS stories. Since those initial illustrations, I have continued to branched out with my work, and now include color in my drawings. Colored pencil to be exact. This adds yet another twist to my computer tool.

Originally, when working in color pencil, I used vellum paper to help achieve the desired effect I was seeking. Vellum is somewhat translucent, and you can work both sides of a page, laying colors with a subtle touch. You can see an example of this in my two autographed portraits featuring Nicholas Brendon and Anthony Stewart head.

In the act of scanning and printing, color seldom reproduces true to the original work. It often becomes muted. At first, I found this disappointing. Then I discovered that I can use this flaw as another chance to intensify my work. I alter the color with an overlay of secondary hues, and produce another level of intensity within the tone, as well as an effect that I hope you appreciate.

I do have one small confession. The illustrations you find on this website did not spring miraculously from my head. They were influenced by other artists, those skilled in the art of photography. In the execution of my artworks, I use photos borrowed from various Buffy related websites that I have found published out on the internet, as well as those I have found in magazines. How else would I be able to reproduce a character’s face with any minimum of recognizable accuracy? So, this is where I give credit to all who have captured these vital photos. I hope that you can make the distinction how my art is not a direct copy of yours. While I acknowledge your inspiration, and its importance to my work, what I produce ultimately comes from a combination of research, design composition, and what talent my ten pudgy little fingers can muster. Therefore, I believe I have the right to call what I draw original.

My artwork is evolved beyond the mere photo manipulation others may do. I create the circumstance in which these characters are placed. I pose them according to my plans, my ideas, and in a composition that conforms to my accompanying fanfiction, and one that I find pleasing. I’ve chosen the tinting and colors to use. I give my characters outfits they wear, decide what accessories and props to use in staging my scenes, and design their environment. A million little things go into the creation of each and every drawing. That said, I am not making any money from the art on this website, so please, don’t sue me!

Also, I’d like to send out a big round of applause to the people whose creative efforts have brought Buffy the Vampire Slayer to life for so many of us fans. During the course of seven delightful years, you kept me entertained every Tuesday night. Oh, how I miss you! Thank you Sara, Nick, Alyson, Charisma, David, Seth, Kristine, Amber, Marc, James, and last, but certainly not least, my favorite Tony. And double kudos to the man behind it all, the Great and Powerful Guru of the Buffyverse, Joss Whedon.

You Rock!

And please! Let us not forget all the behind the scenes people who brought Buffy and Giles to the screen. You too did your part in making these characters live. It is because of you, all of you, that this website can exist, and while the series may be over, the fond memories ( and merchandising! ) continue to live on forever.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the numerous other fans who have shared and fostered this infatuation I possess through their own web fiction. It's nice to know I'm not alone out there with my obsession. I while I can't possibly name and thank everyone, if you’ve spent any time in the Buffy cyber world, you likely know who these people are. Maybe, you’re even one of these web authors yourself.

Thank you all. In return, I hope that you enjoy the fanfiction on this website, as wekk as the brave new world, original characters, monsters and evil denizens with which I have chosen our favorite characters to interact. While I realize these stories may bring down upon me the wrath of many with veiled claims of Mary Sue connections, I think otherwise, and instead, choose to see these adventures as one of many valid possible futures for our two intrepid heroes.

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