FlickDirect: "What exactly is an 'action comic?'"
Jeff Shuter: "An action comic is a video translation of the comic book [in this case Joss Whedon's Buffy comics] where the action in each panel is animated and brought to life with voices and dialog instead of printed text."
FlickDirect: "You're essentially 'shooting' the Buffy The Vampire comic? What did you do with the voices?"
Jeff Shuter: "We worked very hard to get people who sounded correct to the parts. In the comic, Buffy is going through a transition in her life and we worked to get a voice actress that would both sound like Sarah Michelle Gellar, and sound appropriate to what she's experiencing."
FlickDirect: "An action comic is, in terms of video, very, very faithful to the comic (it's panel-for-panel). How did you add your own vision to this production?"
Jeff Shuter: "For an action comic, part of what you have to do is transition between the panels in a way that keeps the sense of motion but also illustrates the emotions that the scene is portraying. We've done some amazing things with the transitions from panel to panel like having them break apart when we need to illustrate the way that emotions are surfacing."
FlickDirect: "What can you tell us about the process of making these action comics?"
Jeff Shuter: "Well, the first few episodes had us learning a lot. I'm very pleased with how we hit our stride around episode five. That was where I think we really understood our process, and it gave us deeper insights into the story itself. I have no insight into Joss's thinking but it wouldn't surprise me if that issue was his turning point as well. I'm very proud of how we handled that and what we've done."
FlickDirect: "Has Joss Whedon seen these?"
Jeff Shuter: "We sent him a disc. I expect that if he wasn't happy with them we would have heard something. I haven't spoken with him on this project, but I think we're true to his vision. Perhaps we'll get to!"
FlickDirect: "When will fans be able to get this?"
Jeff Shuter: "You can get the first episodes right now through iTunes, and more come out on about a weekly schedule."
Jeff then proceeded to show FlickDirect the action comic on his iPad. The comic featured a panel turning in space, and coming closer as it animated with the dialog playing over the motion. The characters on the screen move within the confines of the panel's singular action--it really is an "animated" version of the comic.
On the iPad's screen it was crisp, vibrant, and fascinating to watch. It isn't a cartoon in the traditional sense, and it is well more than a comic's page simply rendered on a screen. This is a relatively new art form, and we're looking forward to seeing where it takes us.
To coincide with the launch of the action comic, there is also a release of a 6 or 12 pack of Jones Buffy The Vampire Slayer Spellcasting soda. The soda is currently being given out on the streets outside the convention center at Comic Con.