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Kel McDonald Tells Us About Her Favorite Moments in Buffy and Angel and Her Love of "Witty Dialogue"

We sat down with writer Kel McDonald to talk about Buffy: the High School Years. She tells us her favorite scenes from the show, what makes those scenes have such an impact, and the importance of maintaining the integrity of the original characters. Just in time for the show's 20th anniversary, Buffy fans will be dusting vamps in no time with this Slayer-ific addition to Free Comic Book Day 2017!


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(W) Kel McDonald, Paul Tobin
(A) Rachel Downing
(A, CA) Yishan Li

In our 2017 all-ages offering, you'll thrill to a monster-slaying, citizen-saving adventure with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sixteen-year-old Buffy is still learning her trade, and sometimes battles with demons and bad luck can erode a girl's confidence - and her ability to have high-school fun.  #SlayerStruggleIsReal. Then, your favorite plants and zombies will take a time-traveling journey to the past, where they run into a devious sheriff. If they have to work together to rise to the sheriff's challenges, can they do it? It's Plants vs. Zombies vs. Sheriff Tarnation! [ALL AGES]

Free Comic Book Day: Since 2017 is Buffy’s 20th Anniversary, can you take us through your favorite moments from the television show and the comics?

Kel McDonald: Two scenes from Buffy & Angel were seared into my mind because of how powerful they were visually.

My first favorite moment is during the season 7 premiere of Buffy. There is a scene where the First is giving a long monologue to a crazy Spike and as the First speaks, he turns into every previous big bad. It was very ominous and I thought a great first note for a season.

My second favorite moment is in Angel in the episode “Five by Five.” The final fight between Faith and Angel hit me hard. Just watching Faith slowly break during the fight and start screaming "I'm bad." over and over was super sad and adds a new great understanding of the character.

In the Tales of Slayers comic, the story “Righteous” was similarly strong visually. They really used comics as a medium to make some powerful combinations. When the slayer is burnt at the stake in the story, the visual combined with the caption "God is kind." was an excellent visual gut punch.

Buffy—like all of Joss Whedon’s works—is known for the witty dialogue and pop culture references: with the gang back in high school for this issue, has it been fun to recreate that kind of dialogue? What are some of your favorite lines, either from the comic or the show?

KM: Whedon's dialogue has always been a huge influence on me and my writing. So witty dialogue is always where I want to go. I took some extra time fine-tuning to make sure each character's particular lines belonged to them. In the show I always like when there is some comedic conflict or interruption to the scene. For example, when Oz suggests attacking the Mayor with hummus, or Spike's inspiring “let's go fight evil” speech after he learns he can hurt demons.

What got you reading comics? What are some series you’re reading today?

KM: I didn't start to seriously read comics until I was making them. So making them and learning about the medium is really what got me deep into them. Right now, I'm reading The Glass Scientist, No Mercy, O Human Star, Love Me Nice, and Montress.

What books would you recommend to new readers and why?

KM: Well, all the books I just mentioned are great. For new readers, it would really depend on the reader. Obviously stuff based on TV shows is an easy jumping on point because it's a safe bet for someone who likes the show. I think everyone should check out creator-owned comics though because there are so many good ones out there!

Why do you think Free Comic Book Day is important to the comic book community?

KM: Currently, there are many comics that may be difficult for people to get into because of reboots, recons, crossovers, or a tangled mess of continuity. Free Comic Book Day definitely helps give readers a starting point or highlights something they maybe didn't know about.

Why do you think local comic shops are important to the comic book community?

KM: Local comic shops help you connect with folks that have a common interest in person. It's one thing to talk online about what you love, but having that face-to-face interaction adds another level of connection. Also, if the shop is welcoming it can really foster a love of comics in new readers.

Kel McDonald will be spending Free Comic Book Day 2017 doing a signing at the comic shop Books with Pictures in Portland, Oregon. It is a feminist inclusive comic shop so there is no better place to sign her Buffy book! 

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