In the end, it turns out that there was some confusion all around when it came to “Dollhouse” comics, so today we went straight to the source for clarification on the series’ past, present, and future in the comics world: Dark Horse Comics editor Scott Allie.
The main man behind the growing Whedonverse presence at Dark Horse, Allie offered up a complete breakdown of what’s out now, what’s coming up, and where it all fits in the greater “Dollhouse” mythology. Oh, and it’s probably not a spoiler to say that the story is far from over for Whedon’s mind-bending house of dolls.
MTV NEWS: Before the angry mob of “Dollhouse” fans gathering in Times Square sets fire to the MTV Newsroom, can you clarify Dark Horse’s plans for “Dollhouse” comics? What did we miss in our interview with Eliza? Which comics are out now, who’s in ’em, and so forth?
SCOTT ALLIE: [Laughs] Well, The “Dollhouse” Season Two DVD just came out and that had a little insert comic, something that fits inside the Blu-Ray case. That was a 20-page story written by Jed Whedon and Marissa Tancharoen, a husband-and-wife writing team that’s part of the “Dr. Horrible” team with Joss and a bunch of other stuff. They wrote the last episodes of each season of “Dollhouse” — both of which leap forward in time to show you what happens with the Dollhouse technology after it goes global.
You don’t see a lot of detail about how it happens in the show, so this mini-comic we did for the DVD is an original story by them that shows how the technology went public and turned most of the population into these zombies — or what they refer to as “butchers.” People’s brains just get shut off and they become hyper-violent, wreaking havoc on each other and everything around them.
MTV: Got it. I’m actually a fan of the show myself, and guessed that it might make the jump to comics after it ended. What can you tell us about the process of bringing it to the comics world and the decision to explore that future, post-apocalyptic “Epitaph” environment instead of the series’ primary continuity?
ALLIE: We’d been talking to Joss since before even “Dollhouse” was announced about doing a “Dollhouse” comic, and he kind of vacillated on that. At one point, he thought it was never suitable for a comic, and then he got an idea for how we’d do a comic, which was basically when they wrote the “Epitaph” episode, he said it would make a cool comic. We talked about it, but in the midst of continuing “Buffy: Season Eight” and him doing “Dollhouse” Season Two, we decided to hold off.
But when the opportunity to do it with the DVD came up, we jumped at it. Joss said it was okay, Jed and Marissa ran the story by Joss, and it was sort of what they considered doing earlier as a comic anyways. We jumped at the chance, because this was our foot in the door to doing “Dollhouse” comic, and my hope was that it would lead to something bigger — and it has.
We have the 20-page mini-comic in the DVD that’s out now, and then we’re doing a one-shot that expands upon that story in April, and then two days ago I got an outline for a 5-issue limited series that we’re going to launch later, spinning directly out of the one-shot. Stuff that’s set up in the mini-comic and DVD, and then further set up in the one-shot, that’s the crux of the five-issue miniseries. I don’t have a release date for that yet, but it would be at the earliest July — probably a little bit later, though.
MTV: I assume there’s a lot of paperwork involved in these licenses, so has that complicated things at all?
ALLIE: The cool thing is, when we’re working with Joss and the writers from the show, there’s not much of that to worry about. They know that we’re doing it with Joss and they’re happy to have it done.
MTV: So, with the five-issue limited series, will that also be in the future “Epitaph” environment? Will it involve the characters we know from the show?
ALLIE: Yes… and yes. [Laughs] All of the comics that we’re doing take place in the “Epitaph” scenario the post-apocalyptic environment from those episodes. We start out dealing with Felicia Day’s character and the other characters we’ve seen there, but just like in “Epitaph Two,” other characters come into it in different ways. For example, the mini-comic focuses mainly on Mag, Zone and Griff, but another character from the show makes an unusual entrance.
We’re working on balancing both telling a totally standalone thing and making it accessible to people who either didn’t see the show or don’t have the show memorized.
MTV: Well, the question that started all of this discussion on our site still needs to be answered: Will we see Eliza Dushku’s character in any of the comics? Does Echo get illustrated?
ALLIE: [Laughs] It’s funny, because if you look at the cover really, really close — it’s a really complex cover by Steve Morris — there’s a bunch of L.A. architecture in the background and there’s a Dollhouse billboard with Eliza. [It’s] really small. We talked about that and the obvious market downside of that, but this was the story that made sense to do and Echo, at this point, needs to be separate from what’s going on with everybody. Part of what’s still a mystery and what’s still interesting about the show is where she’s at and what she’s doing at the time everything goes to hell. We’re focused right in on that moment.
In the 20-pager, there are three moments when a scene starts with a timestamp, and it’s the same timestamp every time because it’s that moment when the cellphone signal comes through. We’re really narrowly focused on that moment when everything goes to hell. We get to see exactly who Mag and Zone and Griff are before everything goes to hell, because we’ve seen them in “Epitaph” in their post-apocalyptic mode, but now we see them at the exact moment when everything fell apart, and we get a good peek at who they are before they lose everything.
MTV: So is it accurate to call the comics prequels to the “Epitaph” episodes, or something else entirely?
ALLIE: It’s all in the same time period. It’s all the situation we see in “Epitaph.” I would say the five-issue miniseries takes place either right before or right after “Epitaph One.” It does hook up directly with that stuff. I have a three-page outline for it right now, and it’s very much “Dollhouse: The Movie,” because we get to do some huge stuff. We get to tell a story with a certain kind of structure that resembles a film structure, and the thing about “Epitaph” episodes was, “Okay, to make this look right, you need to destroy L.A. and you need thousands of butchers running around,” which is obviously going to be easier to pull off in a comic.
And there you have it, readers: The past, present, and future of “Dollhouse” comics, straight from the source. Apologies to Whedon fans the world over (including the Whedonesque.com crew) for any misunderstandings/inaccuracies in our earlier interview with Eliza. We’re big fans here at Splash Page HQ, too!