It’s not Summer any more, so I know you’re not spending too much time on outside activities (Remember the outside world? Before Netflix and scrolling down the same Facebook feed 3 times a day?). There is definitely a few hours of the week you spend watching TV you don’t REALLY enjoy or HAVE to watch, or maybe you spend it reading some piece of trash gossip magazine. We’re all guilty of one of those two sins. Don’t lie.
Well, I’ve come to preach to you my children. To avert your gaze from such wasteful ways. You should throw away the remote and the OK magazine and go pick up the first volume of SAGA. Already reading/read it? Then find a friend who hasn’t and lend it them. No idea what I’m going on about? Then read on.
SAGA is a comic published by IMAGE and has been running since 2012 . It's an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples. The comic follows two characters who are fleeing both sides of a galactic war as the romance between their two species is forbidden, and so is their newborn child. The husband and wife meet many characters, beasts and fantastic places along the way. Think Star Wars meets Game of Thrones meets Romeo and Juliet.
I’ve not just discovered this comic. Our own Chris Wakefield alerted me to it a couple of years ago. About 6 months after that, I eventually heard enough people talking about it within comic circles to take a chance on it, and may I say that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Now, I have decided that I want everyone to be reading this, whether you’re into comics or not, because quite frankly, there’s a lot of garbage out there and you deserve better. If 50 Shades of Grey can find its way into everyone’s houses, so can this.
“Comics are for children” “I don’t read/like comics”, I get that, however this is one that could be the exception to your ‘rule’. This isn’t a read for kids, this has various adult themes and scenes. There’s sex, racism, war and the portrayal of gender in social roles. Action Comics this is not. But what makes this comic come to life, and an awesome read for each and every one of you, is how relatable the characters are.
I don’t just mean the main leads. Each character is genuinely interesting and relatable. You get attached to everyone from the ex-girlfriend of a poacher to a couple of journalists, documenting the story from their planet. On top of this, heart wrenchingly, after a few pages you really don’t know if these characters are going to be in future issues of the comic. It’s like the Walking Dead with some of these books!
Comics aren't all Spider-Men and lads running around dressed as bats. If more people took a chance and tried reading a comic, a large amount of those people would find something they didn't realise they liked. And this is where SAGA comes in, as it's a perfect title to start with.
The main reason SAGA is heralded and regarded as a great title to start your journey into comics is its simple story and diverse motley crew of characters that are strewn throughout it.
Take Alana. The female lead and one of many very strong females in this story. Her relationship with husband, and male lead Marko, is extremely entertaining to watch. There’s no sugar coating their love and their feelings. Yes, the entire space/sci-fi setting is fantasy but what and how they talk to each other is very real. I’ve never read a page and thought “No one would do/say that”, which is insane for a story that involves dragons, ghosts and aliens. Our heroes aren’t perfect, caped symbols of freedom. They are a young couple who are passionately in love. They are two victims of war, trying to piece together what they can of a normal life, whilst constantly battling with skeletons of their past lives.
Not only are our leads relatable, so are their enemies. If there is one thing this book knows how to do, it is to make you see both sides of the story. Yes, the bad guys are threatening our heroes but they have their reasons. They have their demons and whilst you are cheering on Alana and Marko, you can’t help but feel some empathy towards the people after them. Prince Robot IV is more human than most people on TV. His struggle is as much an integral and interesting read as Alana and Marko’s. Not to mention the whole story is narrated by the baby in a kind of ‘How I met your mother’ kind of way. There is no evil side and good side. Just two sides of war.
On top of that you have great background characters like 'Lying Cat', Izabel the teenage ghost and Ghüs :
Did I mention it is insanely violent and funny as well? The first page of the comic is Alana screaming “AM I SHITTING? IT FEELS LIKE I’M SHITTING!” as she is giving birth, this is one of many moments that will have you laughing out loud. Again, that’s all thanks to the honesty in the script. Vaughan writes from the heart with each character and it is a credit that the comic can hold in high regard, making it stand out on its own. But it isn’t all laughs, the drama and battles that our heroes must face are amazingly entertaining. The fight scenes are brutal, and in no way glorify war, yet each battle has an epic look to it thanks to the artistry of Staples. Throw all these parts together and you’ll find that each ingredient compliments the other.
In fact I would bet money you end up binging on each volume like a new series of Stranger Things. You will find yourself sad when you reach the end of a book as the realisation that you haven’t got any more to read will set in. Yes, I think you’ll find it that good. What Staples and Vaughan have created is lightning in a bottle and you need to read it, because it isn’t becoming a film.
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have no intention of letting SAGA get turned into a movie or a TV show. Vaughan created SAGA specifically for the comics medium, a tale he could only tell in this format, thanks to its epic scope and its outrageous content. So no waiting around for ABC to pick it up or IMAGE to start a film company with SONY. If you want to experience this, you need to read it, and from just £2.84 on kindle, it’s kind of hard not to find the money. The book itself is £6 and if you are unsure on taking a gamble on it, you’ve probably spent more than that on a movie ticket which ended up sucking, or on a meal in a restaurant that ended up tasting crap. So why not give this a try?
Once you’ve read it, lend it to a friend so you can talk about it together. Then another. And another. As I publish this, it’s Black Friday so why not pick up a copy dirt cheap? Christmas is coming up, why not add it to your list? 2016 has been a very trying year, finding a reason to smile each day is hard for some people at the moment. Why not give yourself something to look forward to? Why don’t you join us all on this SAGA?
By Jay Burdett