Joss Whedon: Geek King of the Universe by Amy Pascale

JossWhedonPascale’s biography starts off with a very brief foreword by Nathan Fillion, star of Whedon’s Firefly and Serenity, however it’s hardly worth the mention on the book’s cover given its length and lack of expression. Once the story kicks off though, we are given a history of Whedon and his creative family, along with the seeds of his love of film, comics and musicals. Joss’s own experiences are likened to later scenes in his writing, showing how he draws on these in the creation of his work.

Joss is shown to have an aura of self-assurance in his craft throughout this biography, even if he wasn’t as confident in other facets of his life, such as his romantic encounters, although he finds a wife and soulmate in Kai Cole who supports his endeavours wholeheartedly. The bonds with the women in his life such as his mother, wife and mentor Jeanine Basinger of Wesleyan College are featured strongly throughout the narrative, along with the familial ties he forms with the cast and crew who work with him over the years.

Given her passion toward her subject and his work, Pascale does provide a somewhat biased account of Whedon and doesn’t particularly portray him as taking responsibility for his failures and the not so successful start to his career, pinpointing difficulties on other parties. Perhaps I am being cynical, but it seems that Whedon can do no wrong and no one has a negative opinion of him. That being said, this is undoubtedly not a book you would read if not a fan of Whedon’s work so this is not of significant concern.

Most notably known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Whedon was a forerunner in utilising the internet to connect with his very loyal and devoted fan base. Pascale charts his popularity along with the highs and lows of his career, from his early days writing for Roseanne, through to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She also encompasses his forays in writing, directing and producing. I enjoyed reading how some of his signature programs, episodes and movies came about and the additional insight Pascale afforded these. The book also provides a fascinating insight into the art of screenwriting and the film industry.

Publisher Synopsis

“Joss Whedon is a male writer whose most famous creation is a girl-power icon; a geek who deals in classic themes of love, betrayal and redemption; and one of the first people in the entertainment industry to have harnessed the power of the internet to engage directly with his fans.

Amy Pascale became one of those fans when Buffy Summers enrolled at Sunnydale High in 1997. She has followed Whedon’s career ever since, marvelling at his ability to reimagine seemingly hackneyed genres as heartfelt human drama.

In this revealing biography she seeks out the source of that imagination, exploring his artistic liberal upbringing in New York and teenage years at an elite English public school, before tracing his journey from a bruising start in television to his status today as a blockbuster writer and director whose every new project is pored over online by millions of loyal geeks.

Using extensive original interviews with many of Whedon’s key collaborators – as well as Joss himself – Amy presents candid behind-the-scenes accounts of the making of ground-breaking shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly, and considers Whedon’s distinctive contribution to cinema through movies such as Toy Story, Serenity and superhero epic The Avengers.

The result is an intimate portrait of the man who re-wrote popular culture and gave it a heart.”

ISBN: 9781845137199