Brian K. Vaughan is a creator a unique reputation in the comic book business. “Ex Machina,” “Y: The Last Man” and “Pride Of Baghdad” are not only well-respected among die-hard comic fans, but also widely regarded as the types of books you can pass to your non-comics reading fans to illustrate to them how diverse the medium can be. With the end of his superhero-themed political thriller “Ex Machina” last year, Vaughan has been on a bit of a comic book hiatus as he moves into the realm of writing for TV and movies in Hollywood.
The writer returns to comic shops in March with his latest project: “Saga.” Described as “Star Wars” meets “A Game Of Thrones,” Vaughan is joined on the new Image Comics series by artist Fiona Staples, and the resulting comic promises to take BKV fans to places he hasn’t taken them before.
CBR News spoke with the busy creator about how his childhood imaginings spawned the story of “Saga,” his offer to refund the cover price of the first issue to unhappy readers and what it feels like to be back in comics after a brief hiatus.
CBR News: When you first spoke with CBR about “Saga,” you said you were excited to get back into the world of comics. How has that transition been and was it difficult getting back into the swing of things?
Brian K. Vaughan: Yeah, I haven’t launched a new ongoing series since way back in my 20s, so I’ve been excited to get back in the game and see if my withered old pitching arm has anything left in it. It feels great so far, but per usual, I’m hedging my bets by bringing along a significantly more talented co-creator.
How closely do you work with Fiona Staples when it comes to designing the fantastical or technological elements? Do you give detailed descriptions or reference?
I usually give pretty detailed descriptions, but I’m always open to Fiona completely ignoring them, because she’s smart. It was her excellent suggestion early on that our two heroes didn’t have to be white like so many other fantasy protagonists. She makes everything I write better, so I hope we can collaborate on this insanity for years to come.
You said that you’ve been inventing fantastic worlds like the one in “Saga” since you were a kid — are there elements from your childhood imaginings found in this comic?
Well, I stole character names, worlds and some ideas from my childhood self, but this is definitely a new story by and for adults. We routinely hit the complete checklist of obscene language, graphic violence and full-frontal nudity. Sorry again, Mom.
What was it about fatherhood that inspired you to start “Saga?”
A lot of things, but I guess I’ve been thinking about what it means to bring children into the world during a time of multiple ongoing wars, and noticing how a lot of our childhood entertainment maybe helps prepare us for a state of perpetual conflict, for good or bad.
Also, my kids reminded me that rocketships and dragons are fucking awesome.
In other interviews, you’ve played it pretty close to the vest when it comes to the details of “Saga.” Thanks to the preview you’ve provided us for this interview, we know that the leads have a baby who is narrating the story. What else can you tell us?
[“Saga’s” lead characters] Marko and Alana are a couple who fell in love despite serving on opposite sides of a brutal never-ending war. But instead of killing themselves like emo Shakespearian teenagers, they dropped out of society and had lots of amazing sex. Our story begins nine months later.
The first issue is a double-sized, 44 pages of Fiona goodness for our regular ongoing price of just $2.99. I think people are going to love it so much they’ll want to forever tarnish their flesh with bad tattoos of our characters, but in the off-chance the book’s not for you, I’ll happily buy our first issue back from you (my address is included in what promises to be a trainwreck of a letter column). Letterer/designer Steven Finch worked overtime to make this first printing of our first chapter a really beautiful physical object, from cover to cover, but Image can only make so many, so if you want one, you might want to reserve a copy next time you’re at your friendly neighborhood comic retailer.
On a similar note, what can you tell us about the world that makes up the setting of “Saga?” Is it a mix of tech and fantasy or something completely different?
Forget a world; we’ve got entire galaxies, and each planet is unique. But we’ve also got clear-cut rules, real stakes and maybe even a badass map or two to show where we’re headed. Our corner of the universe definitely combines elements of science fiction and fantasy, but I think the story will also appeal to people who aren’t necessarily fans of those genres. My goal is always to make comics that you’ll hopefully like enough to force on your significant other, especially if he or she isn’t into comics yet.
So far, how has making comics for Image different from DC/Wildstorm/Vertigo and Marvel? Is there a big difference in the writer/editor relationship?
It’s been terrific so far, thanks mostly to Image publisher Eric Stephenson really going above and beyond to help smooth the transition. I love all the companies I’ve worked for, but Image is one of the few publishers out there that’s still able to offer what I’d consider a truly creator-owned contract, and they’ve been doing it for writers and artists at all levels of their careers for twenty years now. I’m super proud to be doing “Saga” with them, but I won’t rest until we outsell everything by that Hollywood phony, [Robert] Kirkman.
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ “Saga” premieres from Image Comics on March 14.