Interview: Jeff Parker Talks ‘Willow – Wonderland’

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Dark Horse Comics continues to deliver more Buffy goodness with a new Willow mini-series that’s sure to please Willow and Whedon fans alike. Written by Jeff Parker (“Thunderbolts” and “Agents of Atlas”), the story of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow – Wonderland, takes our favourite witch on a quest to restore magic to the Buffyverse after the destruction of the Seed at the end of “Season Eight”, and following the events unfolding in Christos Gage’s “Angel & Faith.”

The anticipation surrounding “Willow – Wonderland” has been building for weeks, and the series is finally hitting shelves November 7th. Even though Parker is incredibly busy with the launch of “Red She-Hulk”, his new series for Marvel Now, he’s taken the time to chat with BD about Willow’s trying adventures in a magic-less world, his experience collaborating with penciller Brian Ching (“Skaar: King of the Savage Land”), and his incorporation of some familiar faces that will be figuring into the five-part mini-series.

BD: The idea of working with established and pre-existing characters is not that uncommon in the comic book industry. Did you feel secure enough, given your experience in the industry, to step into the Buffy universe with Willow – Wonderland, or did you have reservations?

Parker: I felt pretty good about it- I watched the show for years and felt like I got the character. I’ve written a few hundred licensed comics, it’s not something I’m going to be insecure about. I like writing women leads, too.

BD: Realm-hopping is nearly impossible now thanks to the destruction of the Seed, but somehow Willow finds a loophole. What can you tell us about her journey in Wonderland? What kinds of challenges will she face?

Parker: Willow runs into many dark and ugly things that exist in undercurrents of the ‘normal’ world, things you might intuit but have a physical presence here. And the landscape itself is a character.

BD: I’m under the impression that Whedon doesn’t deal directly with the writers on the comics he produces. Were there discussions detailing where he wanted the mini-series to go, or were you given full creative control over the main storyline?

Parker: The editors have an overall shape to the Buffyverse development taking into account what’s going on with Buffy, Angel, and so on. So they described that for me and I came back with specifics about Willow’s part of the greater story. Not all of my stuff got through, but most of my favorite bits did.

BD: You are working on this series with Brian Ching. How has the collaboration been?

Parker: He’s brilliant and easy to work with. He has a big imagination, so this is a natural fit for him. His very organic drawing really fits the land Willow adventures through. And, he’s great at monsters which you’d imagine came in very handy.

BD: David Mack’s cover art is mesmerising and oozes spirituality. Joss doesn’t tend to do much with the transcendent aspect of spirituality himself. Do you dabble in the former in terms of an overall theme for the series?

Parker: Sort of- I tried to get into some expanded consciousness on Willow’s part, learning some universal truths from her experience. Mack’s paintings hit that tone quite well!

BD: There’s so much to explore with Willow as a witch in a magic-less world. How far will she go to restore magic, and will we have to worry about the re-emergence of Dark Willow?

Parker: You DO have to worry about that, and she certainly does. We examine Dark Willow from some other angles and get a new perspective on her.

BD: You’ve mentioned that some familiar faces will be making brief appearances, and revealed that the “snake-demon-woman Aluwyn” will be figuring into the series. What kind of relationship can we expect between her and Willow?

Parker: A very indulgent relationship. In fact, Willow may forget exactly what she journeyed out here for when she finds Aluwyn and the Supercoven.

BD: Do you have any upcoming projects or appearances we should be on the lookout for?

Parker: I hope you’ll check out the other woman with a book I’m writing, Red She-Hulk. It’s very much a power fantasy with an espionage backdrop- big escapism.

Interview by – ShadowJayd