'Buffy' star Benson a study in versatility

HOUSTON Traffic is relatively light on Route 6 and driving to Midnight Comics, located on the southeast corner of Route 6 and Westheimer, turns out to be an easy journey by car.

Upon entering the store, Amber Benson offers a warm welcome, although she is determined to not start the day without a quick run to Starbucks first.

She returns to the comics store, Starbucks in hand, as the finishing touches are made for setting up the tables for a 10am autograph session. About 15 minutes remained for a quick Q&A.

Benson is perhaps best known for her role as Tara on the television series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, which lasted seven seasons from 1997-2003. She previously gained notoriety as Cheyenne in the 1993 thriller "The Crush" starring Alicia Silverstone.

Currently, Benson is promoting "Lovers, Liars & Lunatics," the second film that she has written, directed and produced. The film was screened Saturday afternoon at Alamo Draft House, located not far from Midnight Comics.

"I have learned that you should never fund your own movies," she says with a smile. "You should get other people to fund them, because it gets very expensive very quickly." Benson says she raised money selling action figures of her likeness from the "Buffy" TV series.

Benson also has written comic books. She co-wrote the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow & Tara" comics with Christopher Golden for Dark Horse Comics, She also co-wrote a four-issue comic book mini-series called Shadowplay (IDW Publishing), which was released in 2005.

When she was approached about Free Comic Book Day here in Houston, she took it right in stride.

"I love Free Comic Book Day. I think it inspires people to go down and check out things they've checked out before," Benson says.

"And maybe you get someone who has not been interested in comic books in the past. They come in, they get something for free, they read it and go, like, 'This is awesome.' So, maybe you make a new fan."

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