EXCLUSIVE: Buffyverse Gets Its First Gay Male Slayer
By Jerry Portwood
After Joss Whedon's cult favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air in 2003, that didn't mean the end for the "Buffyverse," as it's know. No, Season 8 took up with the Buffy comics, published by Dark Horse Comics, and a series of graphic novels and comics have explored the history of the Slayer line. Needless to say, it has had a healthy fanbase that has continued to follow the slayers as they battle vampires and all sorts of otherworldly creatures. Now, Season 9 has a new plot twist and character: Billy, the first male slayer. Oh, and he happens to like guys.
If you know the mythology of the Buffyverse, then you know only women can be "called" (chosen by fate) to be a Slayer, so how is it that a gay boy is getting a chance?
Jane Espenson, who has been involved with Buffyverse for quite some time—working as a writer and producer on the television show and co-writing several comic book stories for Tales of the Slayers, Tales of the Vampires, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight—has collaborated with Drew Greenberg on this project. With the news last week that she was also working on a digital comic based on Husbands, we wondered, Why Billy, and why now?
"Billy actually predated the idea of doing a Husbands comic," Espenson explains. "I already knew Cheeks, and he has a line in Season 1 of Husbands, that Brad [Bell] wrote, that really struck me about how Cheeks has an "exotic femininity" that's equated with weakness. I thought, Gee, all the work we’ve done with Buffy is about being female, and how that doesn’t mean that you are lesser. It suddenly struck me: If being feminine doesn’t mean that your’e lesser, then liking guys also doesn’t mean you're lesser. For very good reason, we've focused on the female empowerment part of Buffy, but I wondered, Did we leave something out? What if someone in high school is looking up to Buffy as a role model, and we're saying: You can’t be a Slayer."
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