Talking ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Lost Summer’ With Casey Gilley and Lauren Knight 

While summer is still a few weeks away, things are already heating up in writer, Casey Gilley, and artist, Lauren Knight’s, new one-shot, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Lost Summer. With ink assists by Lea Caballero, colors by Francesco Segala, color assists by Gloria Martinelli, and letters by Ed Dukeshire, find out what the Scooby Gang is getting up to at an antique’s fair in this interview with Gilley and Knight:

Cover Art: Mirka Andolfo

Rachel Bellwoar: Slayers don’t usually get vacations, but Lost Summer is relatively light on stakings. Did you always want to limit the vampire fights in this issue, and was it fun to throw in a few for the double page road map (which shows that Buffy wasn’t able to avoid them completely during the drive)?

Casey Gilley: The spirit of this issue is the vacation episodes of sitcoms–a break from the norm, fun, levity, and seeing favorite characters in new environments. I never intended this to be a slay-heavy story, nor would it have been the point of deploying this trope. Everyone has seen Buffy dust vamps, right? But we’ve rarely seen her step away from her responsibilities in a light-hearted, silly, playful way–and that’s what I wanted to do.

The double-page road map was literally the first scene I wrote. I was inspired by montage travel scenes from National Lampoon’s Vacation, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I knew I wanted classic Americana, humor, and some vintage roadside attractions to call back to the Southern California roots I share with Buffy. So yes, it was super fun.

Bellwoar: In terms of where this story falls in Buffy’s timeline, Buffy and Spike aren’t sneaking around, but Willow mentions Tara at one point. Would this probably take place in season six?  

Gilley: Good question. I’m glad I’ve been part of a book that will give readers something to ponder, debate, and speculate.

Bellwoar: Antique fairs aren’t the Scooby Gang’s usual scene. What was it like to capture the world of antiquing and the people who frequent those events?

Gilley: Oh, I think it’s VERY consistent with the types of places they find themselves–magic shops, black market magic dens, cemeteries, haunted houses–all of these places share commonalities. They are memorials to the past, to mystical spots where the veil is thin, to places steeped in esoteric mystery. Antiques can be deeply haunted, or at least feel so connected to the past that it feels like the souls of the long departed are part of them. Buffy has always reminded us of our history–both living and undead–in a way that reinforces how connected we all are. And I think an antique fair carries that exact vibe.

Bellwoar: How did you first hear about the Casket Girls and what made you want to address their history?

Gilley: Oh gosh, my family history carries back to New Orleans and it’s really the only place where I can find evidence of my ancestors, so it’s been a city I’ve loved for most of my life. Also, I’ve always been ~very gothy~ and New Orleans is a mecca for my people. I first heard about the Casket Girls as a teenager and I was completely fascinated by their story–both the urban legend and the reality.

I love New Orleans and up until 2020, I traveled there almost every year for Super Sunday and St. John’s Eve. Whenever I go, I pay my respects to the Old Ursulines Convent Museum and think about the young women who were forced to become founding members of the city. I highly encourage anyone traveling there to take a tour and learn more about those amazing nuns and the work they did to protect the women of New Orleans.

Bellwoar: Was it difficult figuring out how to transition, visually, from present to past for the flashbacks?

Lauren Knight: I loved getting to portray Spike as William Pratt and then follow him through the ages as he hunts down his journals, aside from costume (like showing Spike in his iconic ’80s look) the colouring from Francesco does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to hopping from past to present.

Bellwoar: Lauren – while you previously drew one of the stories in Boom!’s one-shot, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Every Generation, I believe this is your first time getting to draw some of the series regulars. Was there anyone you were especially excited to draw (or any characters you’re still waiting to tackle)?

Knight: This was my first time getting to draw everyone’s favourite peroxide blonde vampire, Spike! I had a lot of fun drawing those cheekbones and making sure his clothes were spray painted on. I’ve been lucky to get to draw most of my favourites already, I’m just waiting for the chance to draw Faith next.

Bellwoar: Why do you feel Anya was a better fit for this roadtrip over Xander?

Gilley: I love writing Anya! Her humor, skill, experience, and humanity are some of the best parts of Buffy and I always want her voice in my stories. She’s a huge part of my Last Vampire Slayer books–I deeply identify with her. I never viewed it as a “one or the other” thing, I just never really saw Xander fitting into this story. Intuitively, I knew I wanted the trifecta of Willow/Giles/Anya because those are the folks Spike would tell about “a dangerous book.” I don’t think he’d ask for Xander’s help, y’know?

Bellwoar: A big component of this issue is Buffy’s relationship with her sister, Dawn. What made you want to explore their dynamic, and what was it like to portray their interactions?

Gilley: Writing Buffy feels so natural for me. It’s like unfurling this hidden language in my brain that I forgot I was fluent in and the more time I spend writing Buffy books, the more I uncover the stories, scenarios, and dynamics I want to use that language to explore. I’m SO lucky that I’ve gotten to be a part of this series and I treasure the moment Elizabeth Brei asked me to sign on for it–it’s truly enhanced my life in such unexpected ways and I will always be grateful I’ve gotten to do all of the weird, silly, heart-felt things she’s let me do. Buffy and Dawn? Definitely one of those things.

I love Dawn and Buffy together–Dawn brings out a side of Buffy that we don’t see anywhere else. She’s unconventionally maternal, individually protective, and deeply sarcastic in the way that only older siblings can be. Buffy wants to show Dawn the world, to expose her to all of the amazing things life has to offer, but slaying gets in the way and none of those experiences are as incredible as Buffy hoped they’ll be (deeply relatable, who among us hasn’t set out on a trip with high expectations only for it to be fine, right?)

My favorite part about Buffy is her relatability. She is this woman with anxiety, depression, massive responsibilities, a desire for normalcy, so much loss and grief competing with the irrepressible nature of life to just keep on going. She has no time to stop and mourn, no time to chill, and the extra emotional energy she has? It goes to Dawn. I think that’s something so many people can connect with, can identify with, and I really wanted to showcase the bond they have.

Bellwoar: Dawn ultimately uses her pull to get the Scooby Gang to pose for old timey photos. What was it like, trying to decide which costume each character would choose?

Knight: Casey had some amazing insight into what each character would wear, she even provided references which is always a huge help. Giles as a cowboy and Willow as a 1920s gangster is perfect and Anya definitely already has a fancy feathered robe at home, I couldn’t have picked better costumes for them if I tried.

Bellwoar: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Casey and Lauren!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Lost Summer #1 is on sale now from Boom! Studios.

While summer is still a few weeks away, things are already heating up in writer, Casey Gilley, and artist, LaurenCOMICONRead More

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