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The Making of a Cult Phenomenon
(from Vixen the Slayer:
The Unofficial Journeys)

by Greg Cox

From the start, she made an indelible impression on everyone lucky enough to catch her startling debut: charging out of the misty English (or was it Australian?) countryside astride her magnificent chestnut stallion, her silver rapier catching the moonlight, her scarlet tresses dancing in whistling wind like the very fires of Perdition. "Evil wakes!" she warned us huskily, as her unsheathed blade swiftly dispatched what would turn out to be merely the first in an endless parade of hell-spawned ghouls and revenants. For those of us who tuned into that first episode out of curiosity, or even by accident, it was clear at once that this was a woman to be reckoned with—as millions of devoted fans would soon discover.

Who would've guessed that the first great TV heroine of the 21st Century would be a feisty, indomitable demon-hunter straight out of the Elizabethan era? Certainly not Gloria McArdle, the incandescent former Olympic gymnast who brings "Vix" thrillingly to life every Friday night, or so it seemed from the shell-shocked expression on Glory's face when she received a standing ovation from a veritable horde of adoring fans (many decked out in full 16th-century regalia) at the first official Vixen the Slayer Convention in New York City. I was there myself, frantically scribbling notes on the back of my program book, and can testify that the sheer amount of devotion, excitement, and, okay, out-and-out lust that filled that crowded convention center when Glory took the stage was enough to fuel a full-fledged crusade against the forces of darkness, or at least sell out every piece of licensed merchandise in the dealers' room. The Beatles may have been more popular than Jesus Christ, but Vixen has certainly got Lucifer beaten hands-down.

But if McArdle was slow to realize the full enormity of her kohl-eyed counterpart's impassioned fan following, then she was probably the last person on the planet to do so. All you need to do is look on the Internet, where you can quickly find enough evidence to fill even Father Diavolo's Book of the Damned. Fan-generated Vixen web pages abound (despite the pernicious efforts of Full Earth's over-zealous legal department), with even Adrian the Wonder Horse receiving a score of tribute sites. Pseudo-scholarly web magazines like Camrado: Ye Olde Journal of Vixen Studies publish earnest treatises on such provocative topics as "Vixen: An Inspired Fusion of Red Sonja and Solomon Kane" and "Whither the Beast?: Biblical Imagery in 'Vixen'."

Speaking of provocative, let's not forget all the fan fiction out there, an endlessly growing archive of semi-apocryphal "Vixen" adventures that are generally a whole lot steamier (and more explicit) than the exploits that actually air on the television series. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of these unsanctioned narratives have Vixen and her arch-nemesis, Lilith Kane, the Duchess of Darkness, taking their love-hate relationship to a whole new level. (Sometimes Sister Bernadette joins in as well, vows or no vows.) And don't get me started on all the "Mary Sue" stories out there, in which thinly-disguised versions of the authors are mystically transported through time to join Vixen the Slayer in her never-ending battle for truth, freedom, and the way of the ninja. (I refuse to comment on all those anonymously authored stories teaming Vix with "Gerg Xoc," journeyman scribe.)

Meanwhile, in dozens of chat rooms and newsgroups, Vixites from around the world argue incessantly about what really happened in the infamous "dream" episode, or who would win in a three-way fight between Vixen, Xena, and Buffy? (The general consensus on the latter was that Buffy would win, but only if she was allowed to import a missile launcher from the 20th century.) In all, there's enough Vixen material on-line that, in theory, you could spend 24 hours a day in the world of our favorite ninja vampire hunter without ever watching the show! But who in God's name would want to do that?

Every fan has their own favorite episode, of course. Some prefer the nonstop demon-fighting action of such classics as "To Hunt the Hunter" or "Thirteen Minutes to Doomsday," while others groove on moodier, more atmospheric fare like "The Haunter of Crimson Cove" or "Behowl the Moon." Hardcore romantics pine for more episodes like "A Slayer in Love" (with Christopher Marlowe, no less!), while still others (you know who you are) can't get enough of such, er, stimulating episodes as "Corsets and Catacombs" or "The Duchess's Delights." From a strictly historical standpoint, few shows are more fascinating than "Across the Veil of Worlds," in which the ever-frugal folks at Full Earth Productions incorporated footage from the original, never-aired pilot for Ninja Vampire Hunter starring Doreen Liu, thus providing an intriguing glimpse of an alternate reality featuring a very different Slayer.

Granted, there are a few episodes that most of us would prefer to forget. Did we really need to watch a sixty-minute flashback to Sister Bernadette's halcyon days at the nunnery in "The Trouble with Anglicans"? Or watch our usually fierce Slayer baby-sit that obnoxious urchin in "Mother for a Day"? Oh well, I guess even the Anointed Champion of the Light can have an off day. Or two.

How much longer can the Vixen phenomenon thrive and flourish? From where I'm sitting, the sky's the limit. As of this writing, the first official Vixen novel, The Warslayer by Rosemary Edghill, is sitting atop the New York Times Bestseller List, while First Lady Tipper Gore just cited Vixen as "an outstanding role model for America's youth." Not bad for the bastard child of an English lord and a Japanese geisha!

Now you'll have to excuse me. It's nine o'clock and a brand new episode has just begun. On my TV screen a full moon is rising, the Duchess and her fiendish lackeys are plotting new devilment, and justice, in the form of a flame-haired female privateer, is riding into the dark and unholy night.

I may never go out on Fridays again.

* * *

GREG COX is the author of numerous books, including Vixen the Slayer: The Unauthorized Journeys. He has never missed a single episode.



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