Bookworms: Buffy: The Making of a Slayer (2012) by Nancy Holder
“Human beings have the rare capacity to connect with each other, against all odds.” – Michael Dorris
If you missed it, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a television show that aired in the late 1990’s and affected an entire generation. The show has a funny sounding title, and a premise that seems a little corny: the young, innocent blond girl kills the monsters that stalk the night. Created by nerd icon and legend Joss Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a show that transcends genre, medium, and time to connect on a human, visceral level with those that pay attention to what happens beneath the jokes, the gore, and the first season. Whedon and his co-workers were able to capture lightning in a bottle to produce a story that over seven years showed its audience how to live, love, and deal with the most horrible realities of life. Starting with the very simple premise that high school is hell, the show grows with its cast. After high school, life gets no easier. The message is that many of the people who help a person survive to adulthood are no longer around for daily salvation. Close friends can become the strongest of enemies when all goes terribly wrong, and tragedy strikes when it is most inconvenient. Whedon never shied away from showing the horror of life, while at the same time, giving his audience a message of hope, a reason to continue, and even the skeleton of a survival strategy. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a fun, hilarious, painful, intelligent, compelling show that I believe will endure as a classic of storytelling.
Buffy: The Making of a Slayer is a beautiful volume that pays homage to and celebrates the wonder that is Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the artistic geniuses who created it. Nancy Holder excellently pulls out the major players and aspects of the series and showcases them for newcomers and old fans alike. An ardent Buffy fanatic will not find much new information, but the reprise of the beloved is a welcome journey through nostalgia. An initiate to the world of Whedon and Buffy will find a delicious sampling of the show, and plenty of information to whet their appetite for future viewing. The book moves sequentially through the series, each main character, and the themes presented throughout the seven year run of Buffy. It is replete with full page photos, illustrations, and even a full-spread map of Sunnydale, the fictional setting of the TV show. It is a joy to thumb through and the visual nature of the book is very well done.
The book itself is quite a large hardback, suitable for a coffee or end table. The volume is housed within a clamshell slipcase. Once that is opened, the book is nestled on the right side with a slender ribbon tucked behind it to facilitate easy removal. On the left there is an envelope tucked into a pocket. Inside the envelope are thirteen recreations of props as seen on the show. These include pages from mystical books, hastily scribbled spells, incantations, and notes, and even the complete blueprints to Sunnydale City Hall. The recreations are high quality, and it is very exciting to hold in your hands exact replicas of papers you can see the actors holding and reading from as you watch the show. On each prop there is a small note indicating the episode and scene in which the prop can be seen.
For the fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the collector of memorabilia, this book is a must own possession. (And, at time of writing, it is half off on Amazon, which is an excellent reason to order your own copy.)
I love Buffy, and like many fans, I can say without hyperbole that the show changed my life. It taught me how to live with the uncertainty of myself and the world I inhabit. Reading through the book reminded me of the lessons Joss Whedon taught me and just how much I enjoyed watching the show. I even feel like pulling out my remote, snuggling up on the couch, and re-watching the journey of a young, blond girl from childhood to adulthood through more heaven and hell than any person has a right to endure.
Nancy Holder maintains a website that includes links to her many books and publications and a calendar of her appearances and all sorts of other information. She is a prolific author with a love for the Whedonverse, so definitely check out her site and writings.