Or...Mommy, Where Do Vampire Slayers Come From?

Every television show starts with an idea, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer was no exception.

Way back in the dark ages of Tuesday Nights, before the dawn of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8pm time slot, an imaginative genius by the name of Joss Whedon decided to create a new kind of horror movie. Whedon had grown up watching and absorbing countless horror movie classics. In these films, the young female lead in distress would invarriably fall victim to the featured moster of the epic. True traditional stle dictated that at some point said damsel would end up screaming and running helplesssly through some dark, ominous setting, where eventually the resident heroic male figure would appear in the nick of time to rescue her, or she would get eaten.

Somewhere in the fertile depths of Whedon's mind, a epiphany began to tak hold. What would happen if the plot were given a twist? WHen the blonde beauty was attacked by the monster, instead of her swooning or dying, she were to fight back? And not with just a weak little swat or the odd lucky punch that would allow her a chance to get away, but with enough skill and deciciveness that she could actually kick evil's ass!

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

Buffy didn't start out as the television phenomenon that we are familiar with today. Whedon's introducion of this unique characted appeared on the big screen. In July of 1992, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation release the movie BUffy The Vampire Slayer. Kristy Swanson played the heroine lead, the wise-cracking Valleyspeak teen who had inherited a sacred duty. Donald Sutherland was her venerable Watcher, and Luke Perry stared as the male love interest. Addtional casting included Rutger Hauer in the role of Lothos, a meacing bloodsucking fiend, and Paul Reubens, best known for the character Pee Wee Herman of Pee Wee's Playhouse fame, as Lothos' vampire minion.

The movie was a marriage of traditional horror wrting and comedy, but somewhere along the way from script to final product, certain aspects of Whedon's original vision became lost in the translation. There have been articles hinting at creative differences, conflicts of opionions between the writers and director, and even mention of uncooperative actors. Whatever the reason, when Buffy The Vampire Slayer was finally realeased in the theaters, it was to less than stellar reviews, and some seriously disappointing box office revenues.

At this point most people would have given up on their dream. Luckily for you and me, Whedon is not like most people. A few years later he was presented with another opportunity to develop his idea, this time for television. Taking the leap to the small screen, he decided to do more with his movie than simply reshoot it with a new cast. He treated the film as a prequel, and advanced the story's timeline accordingly. Moving Buffy from LA to a small town called Sunnydale, Whedon expanded the slayer's entourage to include several new characters. He also located the local high school over a "Hellmouth", a plot devide that assured copious opportunites to showcase various "monters of the week" in addition to the requisite vampires of the title's mention. Humor was to remain in integral part of the writing process, with a plethora of pop cultural references thrown in for good measure. Music became a dominant feature as well. Besides providing background accompanyment to a scene's mood, the soundtrack would also underly the basic themes of the script with subtly introduced lyrics. But instead of using polished, professional musicians, and the same old songs of noted fame, up and coming bands of lesser note would be featured, sometimes even guest staring as themselves within the episode.

The campiness that afflicted the movie's writing was also upgraded. A genuine factor of fear brought more intensity to the script. This,combined with the other elements involved, resulted in a new television genre unlike anything the viewing public had ever seen before. Unfortunately, the special effects in this first version of Whedon's pilot were still a little crude, due in good part to budgetary restraints, but the brilliance of his vision was there at last. 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.

In the 1996, the first episodes of Buffy THe Vampire Slayer hit the airwaves. 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. Starring 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 role of stuffy librarian, and Buffy's newly appointed Watcher, Rupert Giles. Nicholas Brendon was Xander, the loyal side-kick with a heart of gold, who kept his tongue firmly planted in his cheek at all times. Alyson Hannigan played Willow Rosenberg, resident female nerd and avowed computer expert as well as the slayers new best friend. Together, these four characters would form the core of the "Scooby Gang", and though others would come and go from among their ranks, the fierce allegiance fans have exhibited for these original "fab four" would remain unswayed during the seven year run of the series.

Because of its mid-season replacement slot, only eleven episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer were commissioned. Not many people, however, understood the premise behind the program with its unusual title. There were commecials for the show, and print ads, but most promotion was by word of mouth. Fans slowly spread the news, and though their numbers were steadily increasing, the cast had no idea if the series was an actual success when filming ended, and they took off to pursue their separate careers over the summer. But during this rerun haitus, something finally clicked with the viewing audience. The strange little show took off. 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 Buffy the Vampire Slayer that aired, a total of 144 episodes. The series survived the death 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, anticipating every new tales and enjoying all the repeats. I seldom missed an episode, and religiously taped the show so that I could watch it over and over again. (Well, there was that one fiasco where I missed "Amends" during its first airing, but surgery was involved, and I did eventually manage to get a tape when the show went into syndication.) I tearfully endured angst filled story arcs, at times finding it difficult to simply sit back and observe the characters' pain. Merely reminding myself that these were fictional creations, not real people, wasn't always successful. As improbable as it seemed, the life analogies the writers drew between that fantasy world with its fabricated monsters touched close enough to events in my own, ordinary everyday life that I could identify with the emotions the characters themselves were experiencing. I found myself laughing, and crying, and sometimes even ranting aloud at the TV as I vented my frustration or disbelief, but I always craved more Buffy when the credits at the end started to roll.

Never before had I been such an ardent fan of either a movie or a particular actor. Buffy became an addiction of sorts, and as an adult, I could afford to keep myself resonably sated. I started buying magazines to read about the show, even print material from other countries, though I did draw a line and collect only those in Enlgish. My local paperback vendor knows my name and my home phone number, and calls to alert me when a new Buffy novel hits the shelves. The show is the responsible impetus behind most of the sketchy computer knowledge I have picked up over the last decade. In surfing the web for Buffy stuff, I have interacted with other fans, learned about their cultures, discovered the wonder of multi-regional DVD players, and even picked up an elementary understanding of HTML code. Because of the encourageing example set forth by my new friends, I've gone so far as to try my hand at writing fan fiction, which was the reason I originally created this website. This work in progress is meant to serve as an outlet for my obsession, as well as showcase my Buffy related artwork. After years of neglect, I've resurrected a long forgotten education in visual communications and design, adding a new tool to the mix that I didn't own back in my school days, a home computer. This convenience has enabled me to look at the process of creating an illustration from a whole new perspective.

In closing, I would like to aknowledge the numerous fellow fans who have shared and fostered this entertaining infatuation with their fan fiction. It's nice to know I'm not alone out there. I can't possibly name every one of you, but if anyone has spent any time in the Buffy cyber world, they probably know who you are anyway.

Also, a big round of applause to those people whose creative efforts have brought Buffy The Vampire Slayer to life. Over the last seven years, they have helped to fill the emptier hours of my days, especially those lonely Tuesday nights (Oh, how I'll miss you!). Thank you Sara, Nick, Alyson, Charisma, David, Seth, Kristine, Amber, Marc, James, and last, but certianly not least, Tony. And double kudos to the man behind it all, the Great and Powerful Guru of the Buffyverse, Joss Whedon (You Rock!). The series may be over and done, but here's hoping the fond memories (and merchandising) continue to live on forever.

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