Horns vs. Wings
February 21, 2013 6:46 PM   Subscribe

"Am I shitting? It feels like I'm shitting!" Thus, with expletives and the birth of a child, begins Saga, a newish comic written by Brian K. Vaughan (previously, also author of Y: The Last Man) and illustrated by Fiona Staples. It's a sci-fi epic about two soldiers from opposing sides who fell in love, defected, had a kid, and are on the run from the armies they abandoned. To date, there have been 10 issues, well received by many (including some MeFites). A four-page preview can be found here.

io9 interviews Staples and Vaughan

Interviews with Vaughan:
A.V. Club
Bullseye (Audio, relevant bit starts at 44:25)
Comic Book Resources
Newsarama
Reddit AMA

Interviews with Staples:
Mancave Daily
Talking Comics (Audio)
Wired
posted by Maecenas (28 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great series so far; hubby bought the first trade paperback. The art is gorgeous, and the characters are pretty well-written. I can't say I've come across a boring part of it so far; well worth picking up.
posted by Verdandi at 6:50 PM on February 21, 2013


Why bother with the four-page preview when the entire first issue is available free on Comixology?

And yeah, this is a great comic.
posted by dragoon at 7:14 PM on February 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm very on the fence about Saga. On the one hand it is a very gorgeous book. On the other hand it is Brian K. Vaughan, who is an amazing writer but tends to waffle on quite a bit, taking several issues to tell a story that could easily be told in one (in other words, he "writes for the trades").

SPOLER ALERT

I am also quite perturbed by the final page of the latest issue (#10), which would have been a very moving and upsetting thing in and of itself. Only problem is, old Brian decided to immediately launch (on the opposite page) into a little piece of commentary on the event, something along the lines of "Oh, I'm going to get some letters about this one!"

Something about this attitude disturbs me greatly. I read the issue last night and was like "Oh no!" but then the author's attitude to it really rubbed me the wrong way. Like he knew it was a cheap gimmick, he planned it specifically as a cheap gimmick, and now he is going to draw our attention to the fact that is is a cheap gimmick. It betrays a lack of confidence in his ability to tell an emotional, standalone story, which does not, to my mind, bode well for the rest of the series.

It just felt a lot like it would if Bryan Singer or David Fincher's head popped up at the end of The Usual Suspects or Seven and bellowed "NOW HOW'S THAT FOR A TWIST? DID YOU SEE THE TWIST I JUST DID? THIS IS A UNIVERSE WITH NO RULES! HA HA HA! PRETTY GOOD, RIGHT? I'M THE KING!" Imagine if Ambrose Bierce insisted that all printings of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" come with the big revelation pre-highlighted. Commenting on your own storytelling genius, in the same frame (i.e. the same "spread" of pages), is just a fucking lame-o move.

SPOILER ENDS

Also, the "Am I shitting?" opening is actually really silly. But still, I'll give it a few more issues, because that's just the kind of big-hearted guy I am.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 7:20 PM on February 21, 2013


I love Saga, though I admit I read the first trade on the treadmill and I felt a little awkward reading about television people having sex while I was in a public setting.

Still damn pretty, though. Staples does good work.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:29 PM on February 21, 2013


I loved Y:The Last Man, and thus Saga is the first comic I've followed monthly (it's great, although I may love Prophet more).
posted by mediated self at 7:51 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


This series is astoundingly good. Saga, Morning Glories, and Manhattan Projects are all pinnacles of the medium. Good job, Image.
posted by painquale at 7:51 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I may be in the minority here, but Y: The Last Man did not leave me favorably predisposed to any future Vaughan work. I have never seen a series so aggressively uninterested in wrapping up any of its own plot points, like, you know, why all the men died.
posted by Palquito at 7:54 PM on February 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


Palquito, you must hate zombie fiction.
posted by mediated self at 7:55 PM on February 21, 2013


Oooh, I loved Y: The Last Man and this looks fun! I just requested it from my library. Where they have it listed under Nonfiction. Ok, then.
posted by Aquifer at 8:14 PM on February 21, 2013


I'm entirely Meh on Saga, except for the art. Fiona Staples single-handedly saved the reading of this for me.

Now, I'm not down on Brian K. Vaughan usually - liked Fables, liked Y: The Last Man, and very much very much as in addicted to liked Ex Machina.

But Saga is a little silly for me - the Planet with the Ram-Headed Boys vs. the Planet with the Fairy-Winged Girls. Couldn't quite get behind the setting and the plot.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:15 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Saga is excellent. It's a combination of stories and ideas I've seen a thousand times before, but put together in an entirely new way that, to me anyway, seems as if it sprung up out of the ground on its own. Only ten short issues and most of the characters are already people I've known for years.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:15 PM on February 21, 2013


Middleclasstool - see now, that's how I felt about Ex Machina. Great take on the superhero idea. And the art in that series is amazing also.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:19 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aquifer: "Oooh, I loved Y: The Last Man and this looks fun! I just requested it from my library. Where they have it listed under Nonfiction. Ok, then."

That's an artifact of comic books (Oh fine, graphic novels...) being really hard to catalog. Leaving aside the issue of multiple creators forcing the cataloger to make a choice about shelving by artist or writer*, there's also the fact that traditional comics readers tend to think of series as grouped by publisher. Oh yeah, also a series will go through multiple writers and artists while still being part of a single coherent work.

Consider trying to find a trade comic in a typical library collection of umpteen million books grouped under the heading "Fiction." Even the smaller genres like Science Fiction and Mystery are intimidatingly large to browse if your looking for a new comic.

So the workaround a lot of libraries use is to catalog comics by form near the visual arts section of the catalog. It's not perfect by any means, but it makes it possible for a patron to locate their desired comic in a reasonably expedient fashion.

And the really big advantage is that, given that most libraries don't have vast collections of comics/graphic novels, is that a patrons can decide that a non-specified comment will suit the day's reading requirements and root around the shelf until they find one that will suffice.

My friend who is a comic book librarian who may post here will hopefully be by shortly to explain this better. Also, I really like Saga.

*Comics are not my field. I'm certain that I'm missing a bunch of really important contributors to each individual issue of a series.
posted by stet at 8:33 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Me gusta saga.
posted by ooga_booga at 8:41 PM on February 21, 2013


"Am I shitting? It feels like I'm shitting!" [...] It's a sci-fi epic about two soldiers from opposing sides who fell in love, defected, had a kid

Pro tip: when your description of a comic starts with those words, you probably shouldn't use the words "defected" or "defeated" in near proximity even if the characters are soldiers. Sloppy readers will thank you for it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:42 PM on February 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


You've probably heard this from me if you've read any comics related thread in the last six minths or so, but Saga is fucking fantastic and you should be reading it. Go. Go now.
posted by Artw at 8:47 PM on February 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Saga, Morning Glories, and Manhattan Projects are all pinnacles of the medium. Good job, Image.

Haven't read Morning Glories, but since you lump it with Saga and Manhattan Projects, by god I will. Manhattan Projects is some really dark, extremely funny and truly exciting work. I probably enjoy it more than Saga, though I have a feeling Saga is still building steam whereas 'Projects just exploded off the starting blocks (in a good way).
posted by Edgewise at 10:42 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


in other words, he "writes for the trades"

Which is probably how you should read it. The first trade, collecting the first six issues only costs a tenner and it's a perfect way to get up to speed with the series.

I haven't read any other Vaughan comics myself, but I took a punt on Saga a while back, together with Glory and Prophet and liked it a lot. Both the art and writing made me think of some obscure, rediscovered seventies French science fiction strip.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:49 PM on February 21, 2013


My boyfriend and I always look forward to Saga or (the now on-hiatus) Multiple Warheads come in on a pull, and since he often takes some time to get through his (massive) pull, it becomes a subtle fight to see who gets to read it first.

Generally, him, because he pays for it and I react verbally to the things going on (which is annoying if you haven't read it yet, but fun if you have).

Friggin' love Saga. He has all the issues of Manhattan Project except for #2, so I guess that's next on my list now. Especially since the artist and writer of the Glory reboot are leaving after #34, even if the series does manage to continue after its poor numbers.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 10:56 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


in other words, he "writes for the trades"

Which is probably how you should read it.


Well, sure. I guess the difference is nominal: wait one month for a five minute read, or wait seven months for a thirty minute read. Kinda defeats the purpose of "comics", though, which are fun because they are a regular monthly thing, and you get your pile of favourites and you've got a lot of nice little nuggets of different adventures. I guess I'm just more of a fan of regular intervals. Like, a cigarette every hour, or Breaking Bad once a week. Nobody smokes their weekly ration of cigarettes on a Monday, or is happy to wait a year to watch a season of Breaking Bad all in one go. I just think monthly comics should remember what they are.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:56 AM on February 22, 2013


Only ten short issues and most of the characters are already people I've known for years.

Same! Marko really reminds me a lot of Yorick except with horns, and Alana really reminds me a lot of Yorick except with boobs and wings! So many facets! :D

Okay, okay, I'm being trollish. Saga is still better than 90% of the stuff on the shelves at the comic book store right now, and it's certainly better than literally anything DC is currently publishing. Hell, it is even better than the recent collection of just about everything Alan fucking Moore wrote for DC*.

*Hint: this book is a piece of shit not because of Alan Moore.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 3:05 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Palquito, you must hate zombie fiction.

I'm with Palquito--I'd feel exactly the same way about a work of zombie fiction that spent fifty-odd issues saying "Maybe it was a rogue satellite!", "Maybe it was a virus!", "Maybe it was a supernatural curse!", "Whatever it was, what caused the zombies was really important!"...and then spent the last few issues saying "Meh...where the zombies came from doesn't really matter, and we're not going to tell you anyway".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:24 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I may be in the minority here, but Y: The Last Man did not leave me favorably predisposed...

Me neither. And come to think of it, I don't care for zombie fiction either*. But I thought Ex Machina was great, and I really enjoyed Vaughan's sense of humour, and how he was able to balance superhero angst with sharp writing about life in the big city.

*I'm a biologist, and I see no reason for zombies. Plus the movie of "The Serpent and the Rainbow" was crap.
posted by sneebler at 6:40 AM on February 22, 2013


Also, the "Am I shitting?" opening is actually really silly

Er...not to those of us who have given birth, yo. Can't imagine if the little buggers had had the nerve to have horns! That one scene says it all: birth is messy, like life. We're all just walking around wondering whether we're doing this thing right or if we just inadvertently shat ourselves. It was actually reading that scene in the first trade (along with the killer art) that made me think it was going to be something that might actually engage me, might actually deal with complex inner struggles that aren't neatly resolved in sit-com time with some superficial combination of aggression and stubborn decisiveness. Though I must admit. the omnipresent ghost-babysitter whose eternal soul is tied to your child's safety is a convenient crutch and of course every parent's wet dream. Still, love Saga. Can't wait to pick it up today!
posted by SinAesthetic at 7:34 AM on February 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


If youre talkung actual comics as a creative mediuk and not as a way of shuffling some IP and trademarks around to keep them alive then Image really is where it is at right now, and to a certain extent other indies like IDW and Oni.
posted by Artw at 8:04 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Amazon has the first trade paperback for $5.55!
posted by dayton2600 at 10:02 AM on February 22, 2013


Er...not to those of us who have given birth, yo.

No, I get that probably all women yell that all the time, I'm just saying it's not an amazing way to start off something that calls itself Saga and is (already) billed as this forever-memorable sci-fi masterpiece.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 3:59 AM on February 23, 2013


Poop happens.

I do thing it's kind of funny that something our birthing instructor billed as "a thing no-one talRks about" is now the first page of something that calls itself Saga and yadda yadda yadda.

Also if Saga doesn't win a Hugo then it's going to be final proof of the utter uselessness of their Graphic Novels category.
posted by Artw at 6:51 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


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