So, just like Karina and Chloe and perhaps the rest of the Internet, I’m taking Popsugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge. It has a huge range of reads listed, from a book with magic to a book your mom loves (for this one, I’m afraid I’ll have to pick up the Holy Bible). And because I don’t want my first wordpress post in 2015 — and in months — to be about my damnable chicken pox, I shall write a post about Brian K. Vaughan’s and Fiona Staples’ Saga because it is an epic that deserves all the beautiful praises in all the blog posts.
First, a disclaimer: I do not know what the difference is between comic books and graphic novels. Wikipedia isn’t that much clearer either. Someone said that Neil Gaiman does not write comic books, but graphic novels, and to that the author himself said the commenter “meant it as a compliment, I suppose. But all of a sudden I felt like someone who’d been informed that she wasn’t actually a hooker; that in fact she was a lady of the evening.”
So, whatever. Graphic novels, comic books, I’m ticking that “graphic novel” box on my reading list.
Fine, so technically I read the first volume of Saga last December (oh look, yet another disclaimer), but I read volume two and three in January and I still have not read volume four because I’m a cheapskate who borrows from Amanda (THANK YOU, AMANDA, I LOVE YOU) and her volume four has not arrived yet.
Ugh, all that disclaimers and openings have muddied this post. Forgive me; it has been a long while since I wrote something more than a hundred words and coherent. Let me introduce Saga in a nutshell: in a galaxy trapped in war (and proxy wars) between two factions, prison guard Alana and war prisoner Marko run off and have a baby and then keep running. In short, it’s practically a family story. It’s even narrated by the freaking baby. Well, after the baby is grown up.
io9 has an excellent post on why you should read Saga, but I’m writing my own list here on why I adore it.
- Its cast of characters. Let me get this out of the way: there are very few characters you can truly hate in Saga. In fact, I don’t think I have hated anyone yet so far. Alana, Marko, Marko’s parents, and Izabel, the ghost who babysits the baby — told you this is a story about family — are all darlings. Distinct, well-rounded darlings. Alana is more brash, less emotionally-savvy than kind, pacifist Marko — brownie points for the beautiful gender stereotype aversion there, Brian — but when Marko enters a berserked rage to protect the family, Alana is the one to shake him out of it. Hell, even the “villains” — and I use those quotation marks to note that they’re not really villains — i.e. the people hunting down our darling family, get their own character arcs. Prince Robot IV is a noble who, due to the job, cannot be there for her pregnant wife, and he really just wants to get the job done.
The Will, a freelancer hired to do the same job, is soon distracted with freeing a child slave in the sex tourism planet Sextillion. Oh, and speaking of Sextillion . . .
- It’s unapologetically explicit. It may be a story about family, but it’s not a story you want to read in front of your family. The explicit content is not just for titillation. Sure, there is a beautiful one-page tastefully sexy scene between Alana and Marko, but most of the time it’s explicit just so it can be crazy. The orgy at the background of the scenes set in Sextillion is maybe a bit too much for most of us. One of the creatures we discover in this very, very rich world is a naked, angry giant with a huge festering penis. It brings the intended effect, which is OH GOD WHY EURGH. Not just sexually explicit, it also is violent. A scene shows The Will put someone’s head between his two hands and, well . . . splat.
- It is brilliant and beautiful and a bit terrifying. This time, let’s talk about the design, because the design and art is top-notch. Brian K. Vaughan writes it, Fiona Staples draws it, and it is magic. I don’t know who came up with the idea of the Stalk, but this is the beauty we have in the end:
Other than that, we have a rocket made of wood, a planet that turn out to be an egg of a scary space monster — and yes, of course it hatches — little baby seal people, and more. Didn’t I tell you? It’s magic. And to end this list . . .
- Lying Cat. Lying cat is the Will’s partner, a giant blue cat who hisses “Lying” if people lie within its earshot. It is amazing and annoying and I want one.
What? You can’t expect me not to put a bling cat that functions as partner and lie detector as an item of its own.
So, yeah. Saga. It is [INSERT POSITIVE ADJECTIVE HERE], go pick it up.