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January 4, 2014 5:09 AM   Subscribe

Saga - Sex, Robots & Rockets, The Birth of a Sci-Fi Epic
posted by fearfulsymmetry (25 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Esperanto. The Wreathers speak Esperanto.
posted by snwod at 5:40 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


Fun article to read, though. Can't get enough news about Saga and can't wait for the newest trade paperback.
posted by snwod at 5:43 AM on January 4


I enjoy Saga. But I don't think I enjoy it as much as many people.

It seems like the declarations of epic-ness are a little premature. It needs like three more TPBs of equal surprise and wonderment to get there for me.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:49 AM on January 4 [5 favorites]


I don't follow comics but this sounds like something I would enjoy. It shoes seem early to call it epic, but enthusiasm is good and clearly the reviewer is a fan.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:41 AM on January 4


For all that's been made of its "dirty" content, Saga doesn't seem especially porny to me. I don't think I would have thought twice about it if not for stuff like the Apple meltdown over a drawing of some wangs on a TV. Spurting dicks and naked spider-women are just part of life, and I mean, if that stuff ruffles your feathers, maybe it's time to grow up, man. It's a pretty small part of the book overall. I don't think about it very much as I read the book, but thinking about it now, I guess it's not hard to see how in different hands -- clumsier, with hairier palms -- this could be a really different comic. But instead it's an "adult" science fiction comic where the "adult" doesn't mean "porn," but actually means, like, "for adults." I feel like that should probably be unremarkable, man! Like, there should be enough comics like that that it isn't at all unusual. Perhaps one day?

I'm glad I listened to the praise, much from it from MetaFilter, and checked out the book. Very little of what I heard about it made it sound like something I'd be into, but it's easily one of my favorite ongoings right now. Fiona Staples's art just doesn't even look like something humans should be able to make happen; it's almost embarrassing somehow that this is available to us all for, like, three dollars.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:48 AM on January 4 [7 favorites]


The art and the characterisation (and lying cat) is what makes the book stand out, but after that it's a pretty poor comic book.

Time and again, it's a book I'll get the latest issue for if (and only if) I've caught up on anything else. I seriously can't remember what happened in the last issue. Everyone hid in a lighthouse, and talked seriously about shit and there was a fight, but who even knows why?

So yeah - Boring as all hell, and the only reason I keep reading it is because people tell me I should care about it.

Oh - And the art (esp. the palette) is gorgeous.
posted by zoo at 6:55 AM on January 4


Saga, like all great SF, is able to create whole cultures, societies and worlds with just a few phrases or, being a comic, images. It's like your peeking through a hole in a veil at a world much larger and more colourful than this one.
posted by signal at 7:07 AM on January 4


but after that it's a pretty poor comic book.

LYING

Joking aside my one quibble is that it's a little bit too decompressed. Certainly it reads a lot better in big chunks than as individual issues. That said it's still better than at least 99% of what's out there.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:08 AM on January 4 [11 favorites]


I have hopes for Saga, but it reminds me how much I hate monthly serialization. I will love Saga a lot more when I can tear through it like Y: The Last Man, or Transmetropolitan.
posted by DigDoug at 7:23 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


I loved the first two paper backs, but I haven't been able to get back into it with the issue-by-issue format. It just doesn't have the same sense of flow. On the other hand, I don't read single issues at all anymore, so it could just be a change in me.

NOT LYING.
posted by foggy out there now at 7:25 AM on January 4


It has not unseated any of my top 5, but I fear my top 5 were formed at a particular age and may be unshakeable. Transmetropolitan, 100 Bullets, Astro City, Lucifer, and Sandman are tough to beat, sure, but I briefly had hopes for Y: The Last Man, and I loved early Ex Machina.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:31 AM on January 4


I've ingested some if the plant life and now I've gotten all stabby.
posted by humanfont at 7:47 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


It's best read in trade paperback format, yes. I've been reading it as the issues come out, but have been reading the last three or four issues in prep every single time to help restore some of the flow.

I don't think it's wrong to call it an epic now - sure, a three trade series isn't really an epic, but if the series ended after this issue, it'd feel massively unfinished. What makes it epic is more of the size and scope - you've got what, four factions? Plus the people who are steadfastly outside of them, and histories and past relationships for every character.

It's also pretty epic in its lack of fear from its own continuity. It's decompressed in the way that Game of Thrones or The Wire is decompressed. Watch one episode, read one issue, it seems like not much has happened, but relationships have a tendency to build on one another, and point of interactions change. It adds a richness that's often missing in comics, especially monthly ones - where every issue has to be a point of entry, the same way that most TV shows are written with every episode being a point of entry.

Also, Fiona Staples' character designs are amazing - whether I like hers or Cliff Chiang's in Wonder Woman better often depends on which one I've read more recently. Izabel's pinkness makes her both girlier and creepier.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:52 AM on January 4


Also, this is reminding me that I need to catch up with the Private Eye, which is also pretty compelling if not as fun and pretty.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:58 AM on January 4


On the other hand, I don't read single issues at all anymore, so it could just be a change in me.

Me too. This, as well as Prophet and the sadly cancelled Glory, are the only regular superhero(ish) comics I still read, but only in trade format. Even if the money is roughly the same, paying fifteen bucks for something that ends up on my bookshelves rather than in a longbox seems the better deal.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:21 AM on January 4


I love Saga. It's the first BKV comic I've managed to stick with (all the others I've tried, I've read the first volume or so and then asked friends "Does this get better?" and they sort of shrug at me, like "If you don't like it now, well ..."). Because of my track record, I wasn't going to pick up Saga, but comics friends were all "Shut up and just read the first issue!" So I did and I enjoyed it very much, much to my surprise.

Do I think it's the best comic ever created? Nah. Do I think it's a ton of fun and a delightful soap-opera space-adventure romp? Yes. Do I love Staples' art? Yes, because I can see with my eyes.

I'll read it until I get bored with it but that hasn't happened yet. I think I still need to read the last issue (holidays and stuff have put me a bit behind) but it and Adventure Time are the two comics I read monthly.

I do think it will have some staying power, but only time will tell there. It's maintained a good consistency and I think both Vaughan and Staples have found their rhythm (I also imagine the book is more hers than it is his -- I am willing to bet she has quite a bit of influence on where the story is going and such, and that's a good thing. It feels like a collaboration). I'm still always excited to see what it goes.
posted by darksong at 8:30 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


darksong, you should try Y: The Last Man again. It does get better. Generally any long running comic will improve after a few volumes, I find. I think it's usually better to have a friend let you read a book from, like, the middle of a series to see if you'll like its style first; reading from the first volume on is often a surprisingly terrible idea. Especially a series like Y, which is more about its characters and tone than the premise no one ever shuts up about (geez, okay, so all the men ever died, move on, that's what the thing's about). The first few volumes have to set up that premise, though, so there's less room for characterization; it settles into itself. A lot of the comics I enjoy, being serial character driven things, kind of do; you can run into the same thing in different media. I love Community, but, apart from a few wonderful moments, the earlier episodes are really not as good--the characters haven't had time to grow yet, so it's an unbaked cake.

I haven't read much Saga yet, and will probably wait until more is in a collected form before really trying to get into it, but I like the playful weirdness of it. I like weird, character driven fantasy. And Lying Cat. I'm sure I'll still like Y better, but it is kind of a nice thing to know it's being made. Not many comics can get my attention anymore.
posted by byanyothername at 9:49 AM on January 4


I love Saga, as a coming of age story about two naive kids who are stupid enough to become parents. In a way, it reminds me of looking at my own parents' photo albums from the 70s. Except, you know, with robots.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:19 AM on January 4 [6 favorites]


Saga is the only current ongoing comic I would recommend to people who don't read comics without being at least a little bit embarrassed or apologetic about some aspect or other.
posted by painquale at 11:57 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


the Apple meltdown over a drawing of some wangs on a TV

Except, as the article points out, Apple didn't have a meltdown about Saga's content:
Initially, a host of news outlets stormed the web claiming that Apple refused to release the issue on any iOS Apps. [...] The problem turned out to be a miscommunication between digital comic distributor ComiXology and Apple; the latter platform interpreted Apple’s policies to ban the risqué visuals from its services. Ultimately, Apple didn’t care and ComiXology apologized, releasing the issue within days.
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:39 PM on January 4


Ian, that's been gone over a lot here on MeFi; Apple basically set a vague policy that allows them to ban whatever/whenever and Comixology had to fall on its sword when Apple claimed not to care about the book later on, is how I read it. It's Apple's policies that started the mess. But ultimately that's all pretty irrelevant to the comic.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:56 PM on January 4


Ooh another Saga post (previous and previous)! I'm happy as hell this series is getting the love it deserves. As a comic reader, I follow writers over artists but have to admit that Vaughan's point that it is Staples' work that has sold Saga to a larger audience is likely true.

P.S Loved "Y" but Saga is still really a big step up.
posted by jeffen at 3:04 PM on January 4


It's best read in trade paperback format, yes.

Oh come on, it's not Bendis bad.
posted by Artw at 3:28 PM on January 4


My reaction to the article is along the lines of, "Comics: still not just for kids any more." Don't get me wrong, I think that BKV is a good comic book writer, but he tends to be a bit overpraised, with the result that I tend to end up dropping his series out of simply not being interested enough in them to follow them through, not because there's nothing there but because there's less there than I've been lead to believe. Contra to what dinty_moore says above, I do not think "that Game of Thrones or The Wire [are] decompressed"; I'm on the first book of the former and the last season of the latter, and there's a tremendous amount that goes on in them, and even the quieter chapters/episodes can have things going on in them that become very, very important later on. I just don't get that same feeling from Saga; again, don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the series so far, but I really don't find them comparable to the examples that were mentioned.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:18 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


"Epic" appears to be synonymous with "long".
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:57 PM on January 4


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