A thorough re-telling of Whedon’s career, but where’s the Whedon in it?
Joss Whedon is a very busy man: the creator of hours of classic television with the ground-breaking Buffy series, Angel, Dollhouse and Firefly, not to mention the writer, director and/or producer of Serenity, Cabin in the Woods and a number of the massively successful blockbusting Marvel comics tie-in Avengers series. He is a Hollywood power-player, a writer and director of note and the subject of something approaching worship by many of his avid fans. Amy Pascale, the writer of this biography, counts herself as one of these fans, one of the original posters on The Bronze, the fanboard dedicated to Buffy the Vampire Slayer which pre-dated the interactive show tie-ins that are so common today.
Joss Whedon: Geek King of the Universe takes a close look at Joss Whedon’s career and the creation of the shows, comics and later films that made his name, and as an analysis of his career, this book works well. There is a sometimes overwhelming cast of characters who have been involved in the inception and production of his shows, many of whom have been interviewed and given their insights into his working style. We learn how he builds up a family of co-creators around him, and as a retelling of the career progression of an undoubtedly talented and highly prolific writer, this makes for an interesting read. Less engaging is the repeated emphasis on fan contribution. While this is clearly an important facet of the public Whedon appeal, beyond the fact that he was an early adopter of interactivity, it offers us little new about the man himself.
Indeed, while Amy Pascale is able to tell us all about Joss the writer and director, in terms of personal insight and detail, the biography is less strong. One is tempted to ask, where’s the Whedon in it? Some of the problem is that, particularly with a man who has created a fan base through interactivity, a lot of the information is already out there, and while Amy Pascale has clearly done her research, we’ve heard some of these stories before. There are a couple of chapters on his early life, but they seem to skate over the details, instead focussing at times on the careers of his parents, which is a shame. You can almost feel Pascale’s relief when she gets to the end of this section, and moves on to an analysis of Buffy. This feeling, of an analysis of the public rather than the private side of Joss Whedon continues throughout. You can’t help feeling that he would have written it so much better himself.
If you want to know about Joss Whedon the writer and industry professional, this could be for you, but if you want an ‘intimate portrait of the man’ as claimed on the blurb, you’ll need to wait for an autobiography.
Joss Whedon: Geek King of the Universe, a biography by Amy Pascale is out on 24th July, published by Aurum Press.
Written by Rebecca Milligan | Follow Rebecca on twitter @ACatCalledBobs
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