Brian K. Vaughan’s first Image series, the fantasy-romance Saga, is only a few weeks away from debuting in comic book stores, and his excitement is clear.
"I've never done something for Image before, and always wanted to, so it's cool to be here” Vaughan said Saturday afternoon at the inaugural Image Expo in Oakland. The Runaways and Y the Last Man writer said he was convinced to do a project at Image after hearing from colleagues that “If you're going to do creator-owned ongoing series, there's nowhere else to go.”
Saga artist and co-creator Fiona Staples also appeared on the panel. Vaughan said that Staples first caught his attention through her work on WildStorm titles like The Secret History of The Authority: Jack Hawksmoor.
“She doesn't look like anyone else,” Vaughan said. “It doesn't look like she's trying to ape [another artist]’s style — it's so uniquely her own.” Staples responded by saying that it’s good Vaughan didn’t see her art five years ago, which she described as an “Ashley Wood clone.”The depiction of breastfeeding on the cover of Saga #1 has caused some amount of controversy since the release of the image, and Vaughan and Staples addressed the issue directly.
“Even before the first page, this book might not be for you,” Vaughan said. “It's really going to be for some other people, and they're going to want a story like this.”
The Saga team took the gathered fans inside issue #1, where the first page shows female lead character Alana giving birth, and asking “Am I sh*tting? I feel like I’m sh*tting!”
“When I come up with an idea, I always ask, ‘Am I sh*tting, or is it a baby?’” Vaughan said. “This is what Saga is about: Why do we bring new things into the world, when sometimes the world doesn't want new things?”
Accompanying the dialogue on that page is the narration “this is how an idea becomes real,” which is integrated within the panel rather than appearing in a conventional narration box. Vaughan said it was important to him to have the text “playfully interact” with the images.
Staples said she was heavily inspired by animation and Final Fantasy games for Saga, and was motivated to change her style a bit. "I wanted to do something with the artwork where I could real dig into the backgrounds, use all the colors instead of three.”
For Vaughan’s part, he said he was definitely influenced by his love of Star Wars, even though the story in Saga is quite different.
"I really wanted to do something wholly original, like Lucas did,” Vaughan said. “I think this is a very different kind of story from Star Wars, but that's part of its DNA.”During the audience Q&A portion of the panel, Vaughan briefly compared Saga to Y the Last Man, saying, “Sometimes when I'm writing the two leads, it is the most fun I've had since Yorick and 355.” Vaughan contrasted the two dynamics, though, in that Yorick and 355 were platonic friends, and Saga’s Marko and Alana are married.
“It’s nice to have an opportunity to write about a married couple, and have that still be dramatic,” Vaughan said.
And like Y the Last Man, Vaughan started Saga with an ending already in mind though if he’s not exactly sure how he’ll get there, stating that even the first issue contains a hint about how things might turn out. Staples, however, said she likes to keep things spontaneous.
“I don't know where the story is going,” she said. “I've only read like one issue ahead of the one I'm working on.”
“I'm thrilled when I get a new script,” Staples continued. “It's like watching a new episode of your favorite TV show, but way better. The scripts themselves are very entertaining."
Vaughan countered those remarks a bit, saying that Staples has had a major influence on the story already.
"She's being humble," he said. "Even her designwork has influenced the story."Saga, Vaughan's first regular comic book work since Ex Machina ended in 2010, was described as an otherworldly Romeo & Juliet-esque story where it would be "unthinkable" for the two leads to be together. "Everyone has horns on one planet, everyone has wings on the other planet, but they're not all the same kind of wings or horns," Vaughan said, adding that whether or not Alana's wings grant her the ability to fly will be revealed as the series progresses. Like the best science-fiction and fantasy, Vaughan said that he’s approaching Saga as something of a metaphor for some very grounded real-world issues.
"Even though this is a far-out, crazy universe, I did want to talk about what it's like to bring up a kid during a time of perpetual war in the world, and race," Vaughan said. "All of those things that I think are kind of boring and didactic if you approach them head-on, we're hiding behind our ray guns.”
The 44-page Saga #1 is scheduled for release on March 14.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!