Brian Lynch interview

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(WoW SEP 07)

Brian Lynch is the writer of IDW's Spike: Asylum and Spike: Shadow Puppets. Beginning this month, he's writing, and co-plotting with Joss Whedon, the new IDW series Angel: After the Fall, which continues where the TV show left off. Westfield's Roger Ash recently spoke with Lynch to find out more about this book.

Westfield: How did you become involved with Angel: After the Fall?

Brian Lynch: I wrote a series called Spike: Asylum for IDW. The day before it came out, I accidentally ran into Joss Whedon at a restaurant and I introduced myself. I said I had the book coming out the next day, and if he got the chance, I hope he could read it and if he did, I hope he liked it. I didn't hear from him for a couple weeks, so I figured he either didn't read it, he was too busy, or he read it and he didn't like it, which was scary.

Then I got an email from Chris Ryall, Editor-in-Chief at IDW, told me he had received an email from Joss saying how much he liked it and that it got him thinking about continuing the Angel series with in-cannon continuity - a direct continuation of the show. And he thinks, based on Spike: Asylum, that I would be the guy to write it. Chris sent me Joss' email. We talked for a while. Then we met up and he told me all his ideas.

That was the best breakfast ever because I got to hear a thousand ideas from the guy who created my favorite show of all time basically saying what he would have done if the show kept going. I threw out some ideas. He liked some of them. We picked and chose and then I wrote a big, big treatment. He said "that's great" and we fixed it a little bit and here we are.

Westfield: How much say does Joss actually have in the final product?

Lynch: It's cool. The big story arcs and the broad strokes I ran by him beforehand. I told him all my ideas based on the direction he wanted me to go. He would email me back and tweak it or come up with a new idea based on what I came up with. Sometimes he would say, "Wait. How about this way?" A totally new direction and, of course, it was great. It's a huge story arc and his voice is all over it.

Westfield: To borrow what Dark Horse is doing with Buffy, are you looking at this as Angel Season 6?

Lynch: It's not so much a season. It's one giant story as opposed to a bunch of smaller stories that build up to a bigger arc as the series goes on. This is one big story arc that goes for over a year. It feels more like the Angel movie, but it's actually so long it's probably the Angel trilogy of movies. A lot happens. It's like our Lord of the Rings, except we'll only have one ending.

Westfield: How many issues is this planned to run?

 height= Lynch: So far it's 12. If the story dictates it, we're gonna go longer. I think we're gonna go a little bit longer than that. Every five or six months, we're going to do specials that spotlight the characters that don't have a huge part in the arc.

However, it also involves characters that do have a big part in the story. It's the same storyline, but from their point of view, so you're going to find out all sorts of stuff that you wouldn't know if we didn't release this. It's kind of cool. Characters are saying one thing, and when you read the book, you'll go, "Oh. This is why they're doing it."

Westfield: Will people need to know what's happened in the Angel TV series, or can they just pick this up and enjoy it?

Lynch: I just finished the script for the first issue and it does the best job I could in terms of bringing people up to date if they don't know the characters. So yeah, they could pick it up and through the narration in the story and through characters interacting, they can kinda gauge what everyone's relationship is, but it's definitely going to be like Christmas morning for people that know the series. It's so jam packed with references and callbacks and character moments that are rooted in the show. I'd say it's more for the people that like the show, but if new people want to read it, I will not fight that.

Westfield: What can people look forward to in the series? I'm pretty sure you want to keep some surprises, like who survives.

Lynch: Right. Well, they all die. I shouldn't have said that. [laughter] We're definitely keeping a lot of it a surprise. It's basically the TV show on steroids. The budget is unlimited and the story arc is the biggest Angel story that could be told. It's definitely an epic storyline. It's basically all your favorite characters back for the first time in a long time and put into a situation that is just insanely bigger than anything they've ever faced before.

Westfield: You're working with artist Franco Urru on this. What do you think he brings to the series?

Lynch: Before Spike: Asylum, we had only seen him do the action beats when he sent in pages of work that he had done previously, and sketches of Spike. So we knew he could draw him and we knew he could draw monsters and action, but there are a lot of moments in Asylum that were literally just people talking to each other and he has the best eye for character moments. He finds the quiet moments and finds the best way to make them interesting.

 height=Also, just the facial expressions are so expressive. I'm a huge fan of Kevin Maguire from the old Justice League. I love everything he does, but man, the facial stuff. These people looked real. You really got what they were thinking. It's that way with Franco. The little things to the big epic, monster battles, he knows what to do. For Shadow Puppets, which is the series we're doing now, there are a lot of comedic beats. He even gets that. He gets the pacing for comedy. That's kind of important in the Angel series, because as dark as it gets, it's always got character and it's always funny. If it's a reaction or just a quick throwaway, that's really important too. It's not all downbeat.

Westfield: Are there any other projects you're working on that you'd like to mention?

Lynch: Shadow Puppets #3 comes out in a couple weeks. That's followed by Shadow Puppets #4 and then we're done with that.

I have another series from IDW called Everybody's Dead. I think fans of Buffy and Angel would really like it in the sense that it's a bunch of normal people reacting this supernatural occurrence that puts them in way over their heads immediately. It was a script that I wrote that sold to Artisan a couple years ago and they were going to make it, but they decided to make Blair Witch 2 instead as their big horror movie for the year.

I got the rights back and I've been waiting to find some way to tell this story for a couple years now. I'm thrilled to be able to do this. That's a five issue series. It's coming out in early 2008.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Lynch: I gotta be profound now, right? I just want to say I hope everyone enjoys it. I know everybody has an opinion as to what happened after the series ended. Trust me. I've read a lot of them on the internet. There have been certain people that are like, "If Gunn gets turned into a vampire, I'm going to kill myself." I read that post yesterday. I was like, "Well, that's extreme." [laughter] Now I feel this responsibility to have that never happen. I think we're going to meet expectations and then rise way, way above them. I hope we please everybody that's been looking forward to this for years, because I'm one of them.