One of the books I read this week is Saga #1, from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. This is exactly how a comic book should open up, POW! Life in extremis right in your face as we get a close up of a character giving birth in a garage. The narrator’s words “This is how an idea becomes real” running down the heroine’s profile to her word bubble “Am I shitting? It feels like I’m shitting!” Yes… yes most likely you are shitting, I thought to myself.
Being of the age when friends start feeling that ancestral tugging at their loins to reproduce, and in conjunction with being born and raised in The Woods, I am familiar with the birthing process. I have been informed that it feels like you’re taking a large poo, and that often in the process of pushing, a good sized pile of feces can come out on the table before the baby. Using the Big Poop as a metaphor for idea creation has got to hit home for anyone who has ever tried to be creative, ever. Vaughan and Staples really nail it on the very first page. Vaughan has two ankle biters of his own, so I’m guessing he was present for at least one of those births and he saw the parallels between bringing an idea to the page and a person into the world. Sometimes writing does feel like a big bowel movement, sometimes all that comes out is loose and runny and it stinks, and maybe it burns a bit. Sometimes it’s solid and you think it might tear you up, but when it’s over the sense of relief is overwhelming. We are all born in the midst of blood and shit, and if you’re lucky maybe in the end only one of those things will be present.
The narration isn’t boxed or bubbled, but incorporated into each panel’s art. It runs through and around each panel, interwoven along the dialog of our cover-heroes. It disappears right when it should and when it comes back it is seamless. I don’t think anyone has doubts that Vaughan can write. I was at the Image Expo back in February and in a panel there was a question posed “when did you know you had it, that you were writing well?” (or at something to that effect) and Vaughan said something like around the back half of Y the Last Man-again not a direct quote. His time since then with comics and in the television writer’s room has done nothing but sharpen his skills. He has said the title was chosen on purpose to be grand. Saga is supposed to be a real saga. I am eager to see his world building again.
I know of Fiona Staples through North 40, DV8, and Jonah Hex. She signed my Jonah Hex #66 at the Image Expo. She smiled and was pretty and I thanked her and could think of nothing to say. I’m a loser. She was there with Vaughan promoting Saga. Her lines are beautiful and fluid. Her palette is perfect. The shadowing scales add depth and highlights. Saga is visually exquisite. The Lying Cat is just great.
I got two problems: 1) The friggin gunpowder bag and 2) The Vagina-face guard dog. The Vagina-faced dog almost makes up for the gunpowder, but c’mon! It’s labeled gunpowder. One could argue the dog had a problem with the bag too, and that’s what makes Boba-Solo’s intro so cool. That’s not fair, he is called The Will, and the cat is my giant cat fantasy put on paper. I want to know which one of them (Vaughan or Staples) came up with the idea. Who exactly said to the other hey, I got this idea, this dog looks like a giant bull dog and has a mouth like a vagina.
There is no doubt I’m going to get the next issue or the series, if not for any other reason than the potential for graphic robot sex alone. If what we see is just a taste of gray-skinned ugly bumpin' to come I'm down to party.