One of the most surprising announcements at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con was that Brian K. Vaughan was returning to monthly comics in 2012 with Saga, a new SF/fantasy series featuring art by Fiona Staples. And…that’s pretty much all we know about it.
Vaughan, who’s proven damn good at keeping spoilers under wraps for Y: The Last Man, Runaways and his other books, proved equally tight-lipped as we attempted to extract information about his new project from him during an interview to generate some pre-solicitation buzz for the book. What we did get from him are some thoughts on why he’s returning to monthly comics, what it’s like working with Staples, why he went with Image, and the many, many, many recent comics he’s read and enjoyed. From Vaughan’s enthusiasm, it sounds like this is going to be a comics Saga to be reckoned with…Photo Credit: Kevin Knight,
CreativeSpacesBlog.comNewsarama: Brian, tell us something about Saga. Going by the material released so far, I can tell...there's a family. And it's in a SF/fantasy universe. And there's someone with ram's horns. Also, there should be a lot of big stuff happening on a large scale, if Dictionary.com’s definition of “saga” hasn’t lied to me. Anything new you can add that that assessment?
Brian K. Vaughan: It's also got boobs! Shiny robot boobs.
The series won't launch until next year, so right now, I just want to put the book on people's radars without giving away too much. I can say that it's a story about what it's like to start a family during a time of perpetual war, so it's both very personal and very political, but it's also got spaceships and dragons and the aforementioned robot boobs, so it hopefully won't be entirely boring and self-indulgent.
And the artwork is just so damn good. The color stuff that Fiona Staples has been doing is seriously like nothing I've ever seen in a comic. Killer letters and design work from Steven Finch, too. I'm excited to share pages with everyone, maybe when we're closer to soliciting our double-sized first issue. 44 pages of new worlds, new characters and new ideas.
Nrama: Why do you want to do this as a regular series as opposed to a series of GNs?
Vaughan: I just really missed monthly comics. I don't think anything connects with an audience as deeply as a long-form serialized drama, and much as I love television, I've always found a good ongoing comics series to be much more immersive. I'm thrilled Fiona was up for the challenge, too. Bring on the deadlines.Nrama: What led to your coming up with this concept? Did you and Fiona come up with it together, or was this an idea you initially had that she developed? What's your collaborative process like? Saga Promo Sketch Vaughan: I'd been thinking about this imaginary universe for a weirdly long time, but I never thought I'd tell a story set there. But then I became a father, and this whole epic story just racked into focus.
It was tough to find the perfect collaborator, but Steve Niles eventually recommended Fiona Staples from their book Mystery Society, and I knew she was perfect the second I saw her pages. Fiona and I talked on the phone about our influences and what our dream ongoing series might be like, and we clicked right away.
I sent her a sort of mini bible for the universe, and she immediately started sending back these amazing sketches that radically changed and always improved things. It's been a great partnership so far, Fiona's an ideal co-creator.
Nrama: You said this book was inspired in part by your having kids. Now, I don't want to get into your personal life too deeply, but this interested me because...well, you wrote Runaways which had a bit of a negative attitude toward parents, and you mentioned a few times that was fueled by your anti-authority attitude, just as Ex Machina was fueled by your cynicism toward politics.
So what I'm curious about is – how has having children, and consequently becoming an authority figure, but also a protector and provider, affected the perspective of your storytelling?
Vaughan: When I wrote Runaways, I was a naive kid who thought that all parents were evil. Now that I'm a wise old man with children of my own, I am certain that all parents are evil.
Seriously, having children changes you forever, as a writer and as a human being. I hope it's for the better on both counts, but I guess we'll see.
Nrama: Even when you've had fantastic elements in your previous work, there was always a sense of internal logic to them – for example, the Staff of One in Runaways being unable to do the same spell twice. So I'm curious as to what type of research you've had to do for a story like Saga, if you're looking into, say, speculative scientific journals, or historical politics, or mythology or what.
Vaughan: Sorry, lovers of factoids, but I have done exactly zero hours of research for this book. It's just my meager life experience plus some crazy make-em-ups. But I'm also a huge nerd, so you can you can count on there being an obsessive amount of internal logic to all the wacky imaginary stuff.
Nrama: So I'm most curious about what drew you to a large-scale SF/fantasy story. Without necessarily talking influences, what are some of your favorite SF/fantasy stories and authors, and what do you feel is the fundamental appeal of these types of stories?Vaughan: Fantasy/science-fiction stories have been around almost as long as each genre, but every hybrid now lives in the shadow of Star Wars. I love that movie unreservedly, but I also wish that some of the people who complain and obsess about every alteration George Lucas makes to those movies would maybe just create their own universes instead, like Lucas did after he got tired of re-watching all those Flash Gordon serials.
"Science fantasy" has always been a great genre for telling spectacular escapist adventures, but I hope we can do something a little different with Saga.
Nrama: So there's a lot of companies who would want to publish your new book. Image is a place where, to be blunt, you're putting it all on the line –it’s hardcore creator-owned, with a lot of the promotion and success of the book squarely on you. But along with you, it’s managed to attract and maintain creators like Robert Kirkman, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and Scott Snyder and maintain their presence even as they’ve achieved more mainstream success. What do you feel draws creators to this company?
Vaughan: Well, I came to Image because those guys are there, so maybe this is all just some giant pyramid scheme? I don't know, any company that can publish books as diverse as Red Wing, Invincible and Orc Stain is okay by me.
I'm at Image because of how cool Eric Stephenson and Robert Kirkman have been to Fiona and me, and how supportive I've seen them be to other creators like Near Death’s Jay Faerber, who's been yelling at me to try something truly independent and creator-owned with Image for years. I'm nervous, but excited, too.
Nrama: For that matter, you're obviously passionate about creator-owned work, and while you've talked about this in the past, I figure it never hurts to remind readers what it means to you to do your own characters, and for fans to support this type of work.
Vaughan: Actually, I don't think people should support work just because it's creator owned. There are some pretty shitty creator-owned books out there. That said, I do think writers and artists tend to do their best work on creator-owned books because nothing is as creatively, emotionally, and – surprisingly – financially rewarding as working on characters that you helped bring into this world.
But I also think Mike Costa's Cobra is one of the best comics being published today, and a licensed book about evil toys from my childhood is pretty much the opposite of creator owned, so I'm not a fundamentalist. Good work is rare, so support it wherever you find it.
Nrama: What all in comics right now are you enjoying – specific books, creators, reprints, etc.?Vaughan: So many great books right now, beyond the Image guys I already sucked up to. I think Julia Wertz is awesome, I was crazy about Drinking at the Movies. Chester Brown's Paying For It was astounding.
Love the updated Dark Horse Presents, especially new Concrete. Dave McKean's Celluloid was pretty hot. Ignition City was Warren Ellis at his very best. Mark Waid is destroying on Daredevil with Rivera and Martin, same with Bendis and Maleev on Moon Knight.
Spaceman from Azzarello and Risso looks like my dream comic. Can't wait for more Tomasi and Gleason and that little shit Damian on Batman & Robin. Still loving Locke & Key, Northlanders, The Boys, Kick-Ass, Scalped. Neonomicon!
I thought Acme Novelty Library #19 was the best comic of all time until I read #20. I'm forgetting so many.
Nrama: For that matter, what's your take on the current state of comics and what would you like to see more of in the industry?
Vaughan: Seems like the industry is in huge trouble, but the medium is in great shape. It actually feels a lot like it did when I broke into comics fifteen years ago, when the market was contracting but the artform was really starting to expand again. Times will be hard for the average creator and retailer, so whatever you do, don't be average.
What would I like to see more of? I guess it would be cool if Neil Gaiman came back to monthly comics for a year or two, but he's certainly not my bitch, so I'll happily settle for more young creators making more new things.
Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga with Fiona Staples begins at Image in 2012.