[NYCC 2023] Audible Slayers: A Buffyverse Storyat New York Comic Con

Now that I’ve gotten most of my standard New York Comic Con (NYCC) posted it’s time to wrap up some coverage that needed a bit more time to organize.

As is somewhat common for me, every year I tend to separate a show or company and focus on that special item, especially when there are multiple interaction points at the show. Audible and often Prime Video often heavily promoting their content at NYCC and for NYCC 2023 one of those  properties was the new Slayers: A Buffyverse Story, is a new tale set in the Buffy universe and includes original cast along with some newcomers. The Audible Original podcast was written by original cast member Amber Benson along with Christopher Golden, and directed by Benson, Golden, and KC Wayland.

Slayers takes place in 2013, ten years after the conclusion of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. Spike (James Marsters), still in L.A., works undercover with Clem (James Charles Leary) convincing the forces of darkness that he’s evil again. There he meets sixteen-year-old Indira Nunnally (Laya DeLeon Hayes) a new slayer. While Spike tries to find a watcher for Indira, a Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) from a parallel reality where Buffy never existed and she is the only slayer comes to enlist Spike’s help in defeating Drusilla (Juliet Landau), his old flame and the big bad in Cordelia’s world. Also returning are Giles (Anthony Head), Anya (Emma Caulfield Ford), Jonathan (Danny Strong), and Tara (Amber Benson) but may no longer be who they used to be. The Audible Original podcast presents a new world, filled with horror, heart, humor, and surprises at every turn.

At NYCC Audible’s promotion for Slayers included a panel, offsite activation, and press interviews for the original podcast. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to get a look at everything that happened over the course of convention; so let’s dive right in!


NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Christopher Golden, Laya DeLeon Hayes, Emma Caulfield Ford, Juliet Landau, James Charles Leary, James Marsters and Charisma Carpenter attend as “Slayers: A Buffyverse Story” Stars And Creators Celebrate New Audible Original Series At NYCC With Panel And Visit To “The Slayers Society” Activation at Javits Center on October 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audible)

On Friday at New York Comic Con writer, director and original cast member Amber Benson, writer and director Christopher Golden, and cast members Charisma Carpenter, Emma Caulfield Ford, James Charles Leary, Juliet Landau, James Marsters and newcomer Laya Deleon Hayes came to the main stage to introduce the new Aubible Original podcast and discuss the new series and reprising their iconic roles together for the first time in 20 years.

A few panel highlight quotes included:
Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia): “I think we are an incredible team and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m so grateful that we were able to make this come alive and that Audible trusted us and that you [the fans] supported that.”

James Marsters (Spike): “I was in the booth watching all my castmates through the glass, and I had a really good view of you, Juliet. I just wanted a camera on you the whole time. The thing is, you’re fearless. You are one of my favorite actors, who are not just trying to look good or cool. You’re trying to get to the interesting, weird parts.”

Emma Caulfield Ford (Anya/Anyanka): “Juliet was right next to me and I would literally just get immersed in what she was doing…Oh my god, she is lovable, and I was just in awe.” Juliet Landau (Drusilla): “Our cast has an incredible acting chemistry, that just really picked right back up when we started this new project.”

Popverse Members can see the panel here: https://bit.ly/3ROeLaS

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 13: Audible Original “Slayers: A Buffyverse Story” Series Stars (L-R) Charisma Carpenter, James Charles Leary, Laya DeLeon Hayes, James Marsters, Kristin Russo, Juliet Landau, Emma Caulfield Ford, Christopher Golden and Amber Benson on Official New York Comic Con Panel at Javits Center on October 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audible)

Slayers Cast Interviews

If having a panel didn’t give enough insight into the show Hi-Def Ninja was lucky enough to sit down with the cast members at NYCC and discuss a few more topics not discussed in the panel:

James Marsters (Spike) and James Charles Leary (Clem)

Q: What can you tell us about coming back to these characters you know so well and giving them layers and dimension

JM: I was excited to just be able to come back at all because I told the producers when we were filming they have 7 more years if they want me to play because I’ve been playing it for 7 years and I think a 14 year window for a vampire is about enough and so just the idea that I could go back and play Spike was really exciting. The idea that the Amber would be writing with Christopher Golden is perfect because both of them know the world in and out.

JCL: To get to come back and play this it was incredibly exciting and to get to play in the world and to have the character so much more fleshed out and to get to do scenes with people I had never worked with like Tony and Emma and Charisma and watching those people work was incredible.

JM: The thing is that we were originally really well cast, They cast very good actors in roles that they can really shine in and so it was getting back together and effortlessly just fun and easy and I remember listening to you and being just like how is he dunking every line and I’m like oh he’s just being himself, he’s perfectly cast as Clem and you combine your warm personality with your lines and you get a great character.

Q: What could you do with your characters with a scripted podcast that you couldn’t do with a live action show?

JCL: So much more. Like a special effects kind of stuff you couldn’t budgetarily use before.

JM: It’ a good question; I guess I’ll flip it. I think the scripts that were written would probably be easily filmable… My concern was the fights…, I’ve done other audible dramas and the fights were cheesy; which is not the brand… but they {Audible] had me listen to about 15 minutes of it and I was like ‘oh my God it’s perfect,’ and the technology that they’re using is this proprietary technology that puts the audience in a specific point in the room and then blocks the actors digitally because we recorded standing still at a microphone but they’re manipulating it.

JCL: You can hear movement.

JM: Right, they are moving our voices around the room and they took the time to block all of the scenes for all of the episodes, they showed me the notes and they had me listen to it, and for those people who have surround sound you will hear us walking around you. They have to listen to it in stereo too and it’s still very effective but I had this idea that people should find the person who has surround sound in their friend group and then have listen parties. Q: What was the biggest challenge of bringing a character that you’ve done physically in acting into just using your voice?

JCL: I don’t feel like it was a challenge. There was more almost freedom to it.

JM: Thank you; you’re quick. So you’re hanging words in the air, that’s kind of your job and in a certain rhythm in a certain color to tell story and so knowing that you are doing that because when you are filming something it is about covering-up you’re feeling with your voice, trying to hide things because it’s going to be seen anyway because the cameras are so intimate and so good film acting is actually trying not to be seen. Knowing you’ll fit but you don’t want to try to communicate everything that you’re feeling cause that gets cheesy and so it is a process of putting all of the information you have about your character into the voice but for us that was so close to what we do all the time anyways.

Chris Golden (Writer/Director) and Amber Benson (Writer/Director; Tara)

Q: Where did this all begin? We’ve had comics and we’ve had some different tidbits to satisfy us but it’s always been going back to the series. So how did this all come together?

CG: It really came together because I was having a conversation with our friend Lydia an executive at Audible about the fact that they had gotten the rights to do this and immediately I jumped in as I would in a case like that and said I wanted to do that but be the only way that this is going to work is if it’s Amber. The key for me is that there’s a level of trust, that everybody involved knew that if we were doing this together, that Amber was Writing/Directing, that they would be in hands that cared, in hands that care for them, and I am 100% certain that there’s no way to do this without you.

AB: It’s been really emotional, I think for me. How we treat each other is really important and everyone getting back together and being a family was really important, the love is real. I feel like so often working on stuff I’m like I like them, they’re fine. But with these people we see each other at conventions and I hug them and I want to hold them…and to be able to give some of them that didn’t get closure on this was really wonderful. There was some rough stuff that we’ve all been through as a group and to try and make this a better experience was high on our list. Charisma keeps saying we’re people forward and I think here we are. We are people forward and I think the world should be that in general. So we try. We mess up, everybody does but we try. That’s all you can do.

Q: What is it about the Buffyverse that is kept people wanting more for such a long time?

AB: I mean there’s something about the fandom that brings people together and there’s something the about character of this Tara Maclay who’s in our Audible Original Podcast Slayers who because of what she’s been through in the relationship and the queer factor I think it brings people together, it brings families together. I think so many people in this world are like ‘I live in an insular environment. I don’t know anybody who’s different than me. So I can spend time listening to the show and I’m like oh I like all these people and they’re different than me; some of them are fierce, some of them come from a whole other way of life,” and I feel like I like them so maybe everybody’s kind of cool.

CG: I just want to wrap-up real quick on it and just say that for me I feel like no matter what you actually look like, no matter who you actually present as, or look like in life everybody feels like an outsider sometimes and some people feel like an outsider all the time and I think more than anything else this story in general and this world in general is a world where everybody can watch them and feel like oh I can be part of this. I can be with these people. I can be heroic. I can have people by my side.

AB: People listen to this and there is a character that you identify with, that you see yourself in and I think that brings people together.

Q: I think the Audible Original Series really holds true to the original universe. With this fandom and how attached we are to these characters, was there pressure in that when you were writing it?

CG: For me it’s internal pressure. I’ve been a fan since day one, I’ve wrote 13 Buffy novels, 2 video games, tons of comics. I didn’t do that just for the work I did because I loved it and I’m engaged on those characters. I’ve debated other fans and all of that so for me the pressure is internal and it also meant that we could play with things and do really fun things that we knew people were going to love and then we took risks with things as well.

Q: Why Spike to continue the story.

AB: So he’s our narrator for a number of the episodes but it’s actually an ensemble. That’s what we realized when we were putting it all together because originally it was called Spike and Dru, that’s what we had as the working title, and then as we were recording it became very clear that this is an ensemble cast and Spike and Dru are incredible but they’re part of. But having this narrator who is in your ear talking to you is so intimate.

Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase) and Emma Caulfield (Anya/Anyanka)

Q: What was it like recording this?

CC:  It is a lot of work and it is just like you said it’s a completely different skill set to do audio. It’s incredibly challenging and fun but it’s just so much fun that it’s just like oh my God the days over already. I thought it was warm and I thought it was like putting on a comfortable shoe but that you had to still break it in a little bit because it’s been a minute. But having the trust of your fellows, having that familiarity with your fellows, being cheered on or getting the immediate feedback from your peers is I feel like when you get a compliment from a fellow actor or a grip or an electrician, somebody that’s on set with professionals all the time and they’re saying ‘I like that or that was a good take or wow that really caught me off guard’ is the best feeling in the whole wide world and when you’re working with people that you really like and enjoy and trust I just really hope that we can do it again. I hope we can have a season two because there’s no reason not to

EC: I remember a take you did and you did something and it wasn’t that you were struggling or anything and it wasn’t that anyone wasn’t happy, it was just a sort of like something’s not it and you did it a few times and each time I thought it was great but then you did something and you were like no, no I just want to do one more because I think at that point Amber and Chris were like no we got it and you went I want to do one more and as soon as you were done I was like that’s the one that’s the take and they were like that’s the take and it was so good.

CC: And thank God we get a chance to do that. When you know that it’s not resonating, it’s not your bones, you sense it. You know what your potential is you know in your head how you want it to go and it’s not happening yet. Thank you I forgot about that.

Q: Anya and Cordelia, both your characters quickly disappeared and now 20 years later you’re getting to come jump back and be those characters and now we get a chance to hang out with your characters again.

EC: It’s fun working with her cause I only got the one episode and I think I maybe saw you in the prom or somewhere but I don’t think we actually talked so to be able to have so much to do with her again or even like Juliette’s working out definitely. Anya and Drusilla together was wild to be able to experience that it was old but all brand new again.

CC: Yeah I don’t know what the perfect phrasing is but I do want to say this that is why doing this project means so much to me. The show is more than just one person and I spoke out about the one person. I will always want to be Cordelia. The show is the 2 or 300 people that put their blood, sweat, and tears into it. I gave up and sacrificed a lot. I hope with the SAG-AFTRA strike people are starting to understand the image of what actors lives are like and that that’s being dispelled today. But there is a not glamorous side to working 14/16 hour days and not being able to be there for Halloween trick-or-treating with your kid, or taking your husband who cut his finger to the hospital because you’re on set, or you have strep throat and you still going to work, or you can’t stop puking and you still have to go to work. These are the realities of doing what we do and it’s not always glamorous but I think there is this idea that we are and so when I spoke out I wanted to get the commission back to the thing and I wanted people to understand that I loved this character, I loved that job, I love a lot of those people, and Cordelia is me and I am her and she is the one person that I think changed who I was to put me in a position to be able to speak out and that’s kind of a rich. It’s almost like the one person who created this character that then ended up being empowered enough to speak out about what was happening and I think that’s important and I think I wanted people to know that I love her and I love this fan zone and please know that that’s what that is about. They’re separate to me in my mind and I want to give permission to the fandom to enjoy that show and this show and to maybe give it a rebirth and re-generate and to create new positive memories.

Q: Thank you so much for that answer and thank you for coming back because it’s a difficult coming back knowing the painful parts of this

CC: And they were parts, that’s what’s integral.

Juliet Landau (Drusilla) and Laya Deleon Hayes (Indira)

Q: What is it like for Indira stepping into the Slayer role. In 2013 things look different than in the 90’s as a slayer and as a young black woman. How does that inform her choices, her experiences.

LDH: It informs everything doesn’t it. You can even feel it by the first scene where we’re introduced to Indira. Like there is no fear here. She’s also looking at Spike and Clem to help me out, like I’m the leader in this type of situation and she takes complete ownership of that from the very beginning. Of course then you see there are certain stakes in being a Slayer that she’s not the most aware of yet but the fact that she’s already coming in with a lot of exuberance and confidence I think shows and says all that it needs to say and then for me as an actor it’s exciting to be a part of this world. You don’t get many opportunities like this, being people of color, so I just wanted to make sure that I was doing the show justice but also make sure that I was adding my own flavor my own spice.

Q: Drusilla is such an iconic character. What was it like bringing her back?

JL: I don’t necessarily think differently when I’m working with voice, theater, movies, or television. I basically do the same work and then of course there’s a different technique in different craft in each media and if it’s close up your obviously doing something a little bit different than your whole body working in theater but for me It’s really about creating or bringing back a fully well-rounded character and all the nuance and the development of the character and the contradictions of that character and then that will inform your voice vocally and will be fulsome in your portrayal. So I think that in terms of stepping back into Dru I think when you’ve inhabited a character for a long time and whether it’s on series television or in doing a long run of a play it gets sort of into your tissues in some way and it’s sort of there so I actually found it surprisingly easy to slip back into Dru. Not that I hopefully am like her in my own day-to-day life because that would be a bit scary but to pick her back up came pretty effortlessly.

Q: Is it a big change with the character from before?

JL: She’s definitely more ambitious and also she is not an appendage, she’s not subservient to anyone. She really does drive a lot of the action and so that was very interesting.

Q: Buffy has a rich history and you are stepping into a new character. How has been that experience been as you’re potentially ushering in a whole new fandom into the universe.

LDH: Yeah, it’s just amazing. You can’t put a price on that type of experience as an actor; just to be able to witness the talent of Juliet, James, James, Charisma, and Emma has been like a dream and I think that’s what’s so great about like this Audible podcast is whether you’re a veteran fan or if you’re coming into this with fresh ears fresh eyes there is something here for you to relate to an Indira, my character, she represents that in a lot of ways and even someone in my position who wasn’t very aware of the show you can come into and step into this magical world and still be able to be taken out of whatever craziness is happening in your own world.

Q: So you re-opened the Buffy door, the world has started up again. How long do we think this is going to last. Are we going to be going for years? Can my grandchildren listening to it.

JL: You tell us!

A small aside from Audible Slayers but Juliet also made her directorial debut for her movie A Place Among The Dead a genre-bending, elevated-horror film, which explores the repercussions of growing up under the sway of narcissism and psychological abuse. The movie premiered at NYCC and is now available worldwide.

The Slayers Society” Activation

One of the few offsites at NYCC Audible rented a space, which they previously used for their Sandman activation, to host “The Slayers Society” audio led, immersive activation. Upon entering the building there was a quick introduction in an entry way set-up as mausoleum with placards for the various characters in the series. Once you get inside the activation there were a few different areas that attending fans could immerse themselves in the new podcast.

The Poison Bar

The bar area was where fans were served show-themed non-alcoholic beverages.

Tarot Reading and Listening Stations

Fans that waited were able to get a quick Tarot Reading and hear different clips from the Audible Original podcast as well as get a photo-op. Luckily, I went on Friday when it was raining and there were not a lot of people at the activation so I was able to get a quick reading.

Slayer Training Room Photo-Op

A training room set up allowed fans to grab a quick photo and gif of themselves at the event.

Multiverse Portal

While most everything fit into one room there was a second room that contained a ‘multiverse portal.’ What was essentially a glass room from the outside projected images and sound from the podcast on the inside felt like a set of infinity mirrors that made you feel as if you were travelling through a multiverse while sound and audio clips played.

Mystery Swag Booth

Upon entering the experience fans were given a Slayers themed poker chip and a scratch card and had to find clues hidden within the are such as a basket of kittens, a chickens foot, or an eye of newt. Once you found the six clues it was time to go to the mystery swag booth where fans were given an assortment including stickers, pins, a hat, and to a very select few lucky fans a Slayers bomber jacket.

Overall Audible continues to host solid activations for their content, though an adult beverage for those old enough to partake would have been a welcome surprise. The cast even stopped by the activation to participate. Slayers: A Buffyverse Story made all nine episodes available exclusively on Audible on October 12, 2023.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 13: Audible Brings New Audible Original Series “Slayers: A Buffyverse Story” to Life with “The Slayers Society” Activation at NYCC at Javits Center on October 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audible)

About the author

Media Journalist | Michael loves all things pop culture and has an opinion about everything whether you ask for it or not. Michael collects steelbooks, posters, convention exclusives, LEGO, Transformers, and everything in between.