The Comic-Con panel for Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' comic Saga was every bit as charming as you'd expect. The pair talked about the next few issues of the comic, the importance of killing off characters, why Slave Girl is a critique of Slave Leia, and the one Saga moment Fiona Staples initially refused to draw.
And why Brian K. Vaughan thinks that more fictional characters should die.
During the packed panel at San Diego Comic-Con, the Saga writer noted that while today, Joss Whedon and George R.R. Martin are considered cultural monsters for killing off beloved characters, death used to be a more common feature of popular fiction. One problem, he believes, is that too many characters live in the hands of corporations and are therefore considered too precious to kill. Vaughn feels that takes away one of the things that makes fiction so valuable. "We read this stuff to prepare ourselves for the worst things that are going to happen to us," he said.
Death — and the implication of death — came up a lot over the course of the Saga panel. The audience reacted with horrified groans when Vaughan commented that this is Hazel's story and that while her parents are an important part of her life right now, "They may not always be." In response to the unhappy noises, he quickly added, "Or maybe they will!"
Although just because a character dies, that doesn't mean that their presence won't be felt later in the series. When asked if he would ever consider writing a side story about the freelancer The Stalk, Vaughan admitted that he was sad to see her go, especially after Staples helped make her such a badass character. "I feel like The Stalk is the Boba Fett of our series," Staples said, and Vaughan said that even dead, The Stalk will remain significant as Saga goes forward.
But there was one moment that shocked even Staples. The pair shared that when Staples read the script for issue ten where Lying Cat is sucked into space, she responded for the first time with, "Nope, not drawing that."
For the most part, though, Vaughan says that his job increasingly consists of getting out of Staples way. He credits her with the multiracial look of the people populating their universe. He confesses that he, unfortunately, tends to view white people as the default when creating characters. When he and Staples were discussing Alana's character design he told Staples that he didn't want Alana to be a redhead because there is a glut of redheads in science fiction. "Well," she told him, "she doesn't have to be white either."
He also said that Staples' drawing preferences helped shape the fantasy nature of their space opera. When the two first talked about collaborating on Saga, Staples told him that she preferred not to draw technology. At first, Vaughan that might be a problem in a world filled with spaceships and robots, but then he realized, "This is a world of make-believe bullshit." Plus, he said, "Wooden rocket ships are way cooler."
Saga may have a bit of Star Wars in its science fiction/fantasy mashup DNA, but one character was inspired by a Star Wars image that always bothered Vaughan: Princess Leia in that slave outfit. "That's that character at her least sexy," Vaughan said to thunderous applause. "There are slave girls in the world and they don't look like Princess Leia in a bikini." Vaughan and Staples created the character Slave Girl (now Sophie) in part because they wanted to show the horrific side effects of war. "I'm glad that Slave Girl gets to be Sophie," he said.
Naturally, there were a lot of questions about how the Saga world will develop over the coming issues. Will we ever see a planet full of Lying Kitties? "Imagine their conversations," Staples quipped. We will be learning a great deal about the Robots, Vaughan promised, and we may meet King Robot next month. We'll also start to learn about the meaning behind the images on the Robots' screens and why they sometimes fill with static. (If you have an issue with the Robots' choice of porn, Vaughan said, you should take it up with Staples.)
In Chapter 24, we'll also learn more about The Will's sister The Brand and her canine companion Sweet Boy. It means they also get to star on one of Staples' stunning covers.
Speaking of covers, the pair shared the cover image for the first Saga hardcover, collecting the first 18 issues of the series, plus bonus materials. The cover turns Alana's breast and Hazel's head into two globes amidst the cosmos:
Yes, Vaughan said, this is their "fuck that" response to the breastfeeding controversy that prompted some shops to censor the cover of the first issue. "It bothered me when people were uncomfortable with it," Vaughan said. "There's nothing more beautiful." Apparently, this is a point on which Vaughan feels quite strongly; Staples revealed that, for this cover, Vaughan had sent her quite a bit of reference material that he had collected.
Top image is for all of you who didn't make it to Comic-Con. Sorry.