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Brian K. Vaughan has a message for Hollywood about his new original comic book series, Saga: It’s meant to be a comic, not a movie or TV show.
“I wanted to do something that was way too expensive to be TV and too dirty and grown-up to be a four-quadrant blockbuster,” he said of his latest creation, which was feted on the eve of its release with a launch party at Los Angeles’ Meltdown Comics and featured a public conversation with Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof.
Vaughan is a huge name in comic book circles for writing comics with appeal beyond the usual comic-book crowd. His most famous work is Y: The Last Man, co-created with Pia Guerra, which tells the story of the last man in a world where only women survive a plague. Both Y and his other creation, Ex Machina, are in development as movies at New Line, and while he also has set up original specs at studios, his most high-profile Hollywood gig was being a staff writer on the hit ABC sci-fi drama Lost.
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Saga finds Vaughan exploring the worlds of sci-fi and magic with the theme of parenthood as the undercurrent. It follows a couple from two different species and planets who have been at war with each other for centuries. They sire a child and must go on the run.
“I didn’t want to tell a Star Wars adventure with these noble heroes fighting an empire. These are people on the outskirts of the story who want out of this never-ending galactic war,” Vaughn told the standing-room only crowd.
Vaughan doesn’t shy away from profanity or copulating robots in the first issue and even described the book as “Star Wars for perverts.” (He subsequently asked, “Can I take that back?”)
George Lucas‘ creation is an overt influence on Saga, and Vaughan said, “I’m part of the generation that all we do is complain about the prequels and how they let us down…And if every one of us who complained about how the prequels didn’t live up to our expectations just would make our own sci-fi fantasy, then it would be a much better use of our time.”
The universe of Saga has been swirling in his head since he was a teenager but he finally put pen to paper while his wife was pregnant with the couple’s second daughter. He knew he wanted to return to comics and write something original, but his friends in the industry were cautioning that with the economy tanking, it was a terrible time to launch a new book. At the same time, friends he called “liberal” and “well-intentioned” cautioned about launching a baby into the world.
“I realized that making comics and making babies were kind of the same thing and if I could combine the two, it would be less boring if I set it in a crazy sci-fi fantasy universe and not just have anecdotes about diaper bags,” he explained, revealing the origins of the comic.
The evening was filled with plenty of laughs, anecdotes from Lost story meetings and tales of encounters with Stephen King.
Perhaps one of the biggest laughs occurred when Lindelof asked Vaughan if he had his series planned out or was he making it up as he goes along. “Cuz people f***ing hate when you make it up,” Lindelof said, referring to the one of Lost’s most stinging fan criticisms. (Vaughan’s response, “That would be very irresponsible of me,” drew even more laughs.)
But back to Saga and Hollywood. The cover of Saga’s first issue features a woman breastfeeding a baby while the opening panels have a woman giving birth and comparing it to defecating. The very first line of dialogue is “It feels like I’m s***ing!”
“I guess I wanted make something that if people were looking at this and going ‘Is this something we can option, they would close it right away and say ‘This is not for us,” he said.
Vaughan explained that he’s not opposed to “selling out,” as he called it, and would be open to opportunities down the road, but for now, “I just like making comics. It’s my first love.”
The room erupted in claps.
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