Sometimes, sharing doesn't always work out easily, as has been revealed in the public fallout over the revelation of the identity of the Big Bad in the current Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight comic. Spoilers ahead.
As we reported last week, Dark Horse accidentally revealed that "Twilight," the mysterious villain behind Buffy's troubles in the Joss Whedon-driven Season Eight series, was actually Angel when an unedited version of the cover to May's #34 was released. Editor Scott Allie talked to Comic Book Resources about the revelation, and addressed what it would mean for competitor publisher IDW's Angel comic:
I talked to Chris [Ryall] at IDW last night, and I'm going to talk to him today to reassure him that it all connects and it's all going to jibe. That's one thing we wanted to reassure him of and to make clear. This isn't going to be some big conflict with the IDW continuity. It's all going to be made to work.
That wasn't enough for new Angel writer Bill Willingham, who contacted CBR with a statement about the topic:
Five scripts in, and counting, on IDW's ongoing Angel comic book series, I am not coordinating, nor have I ever coordinated stories with Scott Allie, Joss Whedon, nor anyone else at Dark Horse Comics. No one at IDW has ever instructed me, or suggested to me, ways in which I might conform my scripts to what is going on with Dark Horse's Buffy comics, which I've purposely not read, specifically to avoid being influenced by them. I've had exactly one short conversation, in passing, with Joss Whedon, which took place years ago and had nothing to do with these matters. To my knowledge I've never had a conversation with Scott Allie, beyond being introduced to him, at conventions and such, though I doubt even that much contact has occurred. I have however been told, in no uncertain terms, that Mr. Whedon is not available for contact concerning anything to do with the Angel series at IDW, because he is only working with Dark Horse. So I'm not sure how Scott Allie imagines he and Mr. Whedon plan to coordinate IDW's Angel series into their Buffy series, as is implied in the seventh paragraph of your article.
For Allie to suggest that he is in coordination with IDW, as he did in that seventh paragraph, is grossly misleading, at best. By intentionally allowing, encouraging in fact, the notion to exist among the comics reading public, that Whedon and Dark Horse are in any way steering, or influencing, the stories I help to produce in IDW's ongoing Angel series, Allie and Whedon are committing what is tantamount to taking credit for the work of others, a repugnant practice in any business, although I understand it is all too common in some.
As long as I am writing the Angel series for IDW, I will not be coordinating stories with any Dark Horse comic, period.
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Joss Whedon himself then stepped in to explain his connection to IDW's Angel:
IDW got the "Angel" license, and Dark Horse still had the "Buffy" license. Scott and I concocted "Season 8," and Dark Horse has license to use any of the characters from Buffy, including Angel, Spike, Wesley and all of that. Not that anybody was going, "Let's do it! Let's use them!" but I thought, "The other company has them. Let's not bone them. At some point, Buffy and Angel have to be in the same panel. That's a given. But we can give them literally years before that happens. There's no sense in creating confusion amongst the fans and hurting a company that's just trying to do their best and put out good comics."
This was before I got at all involved with IDW. Then I read Brian Lynch's "Spike" series for them, and I was so impressed with what Brian did, I decided to hand him my concept for "Angel" Season 6. We don't want to call it "Season 6," of course, because I'm already doing that at Dark Horse, and we called that "Buffy Season 8" because I'm literally executive producing it, which is new for me in comics and a kind of weird title for comics, but it's exactly what I'm doing. I just didn't have time for that for "Angel" and IDW. I was as over-stretched as it is, and I was beginning to realize how much work "Buffy" was going to pull out of me. So I said to Brian, "We can't call this Season 6, but I can give you what we were going to do because I think it's a fun premise." Brian and I met a couple of times to discuss ideas. He wrote out a couple of outlines, and I tweaked them. And then I sort of sent him on his way. That was my involvement with the "Angel" franchise...
Chris Ryall has been great. He was very accommodating to do whatever would work for me [in regards to involving me in "Angel"] but unfortunately, what didn't work for me was work and I wasn't able to communicate with him that much beyond outlining that initial story. And there's been some confusion about all that, but everybody that I've dealt with has been very businesslike, gentlemanly, creative and cool...and really not, what's the word I'm searching for? Repugnant.
After everyone talking about him, IDW editor in chief Chris Ryall finally answered questions from the fans at Whedonesque about the whole thing:
From the start, we've submitted everything to Fox and Mutant Enemy for approval. And when we get that approval, in my mind, that has always meant what we did was canon. I mean, it'd be folly for me to expect Joss to approve everything himself. But I also know that him getting involved more directly on After the Fall really got people to stand up and pay attention to a greater degree.
So when Willingham says Joss isn't involved in his book, he means he's writing them and submitting them for approval, but the story idea and script and dialogue come from him. When they come back approved, same as anything, that's canon to me. We're doing stories that pick up on elements following After the Fall, so short of Joss Exec-Producing our comic too, I don't really see how these are anything but canon... I've always been interested in a crossover. Angel might be appearing in Buffy now, but I'll be damned if they can use without a full crossover taking place!
The end result of this whole internet tussle? Well, Twilight's identity has been ruined just months before of the real reveal and hopefully lots more people know about the (surprisingly enjoyable, as someone who didn't really like the first few issues) Angel comic. Does that count as one of those "the fans win" things...?