Co-created and illustrated by Fiona Staples, “Saga” is Vaughan’s first ongoing series since his Eisner-winning “Ex Machina” came to a dramatic close last summer.
With Vaughan working on multiple projects in Hollywood for both TV and film, fans of the creator of such thought-provoking and genre-bending titles as “Y: The Last Man” and “Runaways” were anxious that BKV may have walked away from comic books for good.
But in this exclusive first interview about “Saga,” Vaughan told Comic Book Resources that comics remain the best medium for storytelling, and that while he loves working in Hollywood, he’s “been dying to get back to the monthly grind.”
With the launch of “Saga” still months away, Vaughan was guarded about specific details but did share that the series would follow the life and times of a family fighting to survive a never-ending war. BKV also named George Lucas’ “Star Wars” saga as an inspiration, so it’s safe to say the events of the series will move beyond the borders of New York, Los Angeles and the other locales Vaughan’s creations have inhabited on Earth.
Vaughan also discussed moving to Image Comics for his new series, away from the comfy confines of his usual creative nesting grounds — Marvel, DC Comics and the latter’s imprints Vertigo and Wildstorm. He was relatively quiet about his various Hollywood projects but did confirm there was news coming on that front, too. Just not this weekend, because Comic-Con, he said, should be about comics.
CBR News: First off, super-psyched you are coming back to comics. I know it’s only been a year since the last issue of “Ex Machina” shipped, but it feels like an eternity. So welcome back.
Brian K. Vaughan: Thank you. I’ve really missed comics.
So far, all that I’ve seen is a beautiful teaser poster by Fiona Staples for the new series that two of you are collaborating on, which is called “Saga.” The poster features two enticing characters with Spockian ears, horns and wings. Is it safe to say this is a science fiction/fantasy tale?
Yep, sci-fi/fantasy for adults. We’re gonna earn that “M” rating.
I know you’re not ready to share too many details just yet as the first issue doesn’t ship till 2012, but big picture, what can you tell us about “Saga”?
“Saga” is an epic drama chronicling the life and times of one young family fighting to survive a never-ending war. 100 percent creator-owned. Ongoing. Monthly. Fiona and I are banking issues now.
And the two characters from the poster, are they the series’ leads? Even if not, who are they?
I guess you could call them our romantic leads. Afraid I can’t say much more than that yet.
“Ex Machina” and “Y: The Last Man” were dabbled in fantasy, and story-wise each covered an extremely large canvas, but they weren’t world-building as they were both set on Earth. What inspired you to create a big sci-fi, if I may use the word, saga, and how long has this project been in gestation?
Like most weird kids, I used to daydream ongoing adventures in my own vast imaginary universe, one with rocket ships and dragons and super-villains. But unlike other kids, I continued expanding and revising this demented fantasyland in my head way past a socially acceptable age, just because I’m nuts.
I never thought I’d actually tell a story set there, but then I became a dad last year, and this entire series instantly racked into focus.
What are some of the fantasy/sci-fi worlds that you enjoyed as a youngster or still enjoy today, be it from comics, film, television or novels? Did you look to any of these sources for inspiration?
Well, every story in this genre lives in the shadow of “Star Wars,” a movie I revere, but I didn’t really look to any other fiction for inspiration, just to my own boring life.
As mentioned earlier, you’ve been away from comics — at least in terms of released projects — for a year. You have a lot of projects in the works in other media, but what drove you to create another ongoing, creator-owned comic?
Comics is the best form of storytelling ever created. I love film and TV, and it’s an honor to get to be a working writer in Hollywood, but nothing is as satisfying as comics. It’s still the only visual medium where you can have both the emotional heft of a great cable show and the unlimited spectacle of a summer blockbuster, combined in this totally immersive package that makes the reader an active collaborator instead of just a spectator. And because the overhead is relatively cheap and the collaboration is usually just between a small, consistent team, the end product can be a very pure, undiluted creative vision. I’ve been dying to get back to the monthly grind, I just needed a story I liked enough to live with at least as long as I lived with “Y” and “Runaways” and “Ex Machina.”
I believe this is the first time you’ve worked with the folks at Image Comics. You’ve worked under the Vertigo and Wildstorm banners for years, so why the move to the house of “Walking Dead” and “Chew”?
First of all, I still love Marvel and DC. I’ve always said they were like crazy divorced parents who raised me. I owe them a lot, but I’ve also been living under their roofs for almost 15 years, so I thought it was probably a good time to spread my wings a bit. Image feels like I’ve moved away to some strange community college, where I now have a lot more freedom but also more responsibility. It’s a little scary, but my classmates are amazing. They’re all cool and diverse and annoyingly young. I hope I get to room with “Orc Stain.”
Robert Kirkman and [Image Publisher] Eric Stephenson have both been very welcoming, and I also have to thank Jay Faerber, who’s been raving about Image to me for a decade now.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about the co-creator of “Saga,” the Ã¼ber-cool Fiona Staples. How did the two of you come together for this project? What is it about her style that moves you?
I think it was Steve Niles who first recommended I check out Fiona Staples’ artwork. Steve did an IDW mini with her called “Mystery Society,” which I highly recommend. Anyway, a lot of younger artists wear their influences on their sleeves, but Fiona seemed like a 100 percent original voice from the first panel she drew. Her characters jump off the page, but her storytelling is super-confident and restrained. And she even colors her own stuff. I’m incredibly lucky to have her on board as co-creator. Her designs for all these new characters and ships and worlds have completely changed the way I’d been thinking about this universe, always for the better.
You worked with Pia Guerra on “Y: The Last Man” to great critical acclaim and enjoyed similar success with Tony Harris on “Ex Machina,” who is, shall we say, not so ladylike. Does a woman bring something different to a comic collaboration, or is that too broad a stroke to make?
Sure, lady artists bring more glitter and pony stickers. No, it’s a fair question, but every collaboration is unique, and Fiona is as different from Pia Guerra as Tony Harris was from [“Runaways” artist] Adrian Alphona. Fiona’s a great creative partner because she’s smart, has perfect comedic timing and draws amazing decapitations. An artist’s gender has never really factored into the equation for me.
Before I let you go — and because I will get slayed in the forums if I don’t ask — can you bring us up to speed on your ongoing movie projects? Both your adaptations, including “Ex Machina,” “Y: The Last Man” and “Runaways,” and your original scripts like “Roundtable” and “The Vault”?
Ha, I appreciate the interest. I think there might be some cool news soon on a few of the projects you mentioned — and some secret ones that you didn’t — but that’s for another day. It’s Comic-Con weekend, who cares about anything but comics?