"Y: The Last Man"

We Stand on Guard: in 100 years, America seizes Canada for its water

Brian K Vaughan's varied career in comics has had numerous and diverse hits like Saga, the epically weird and sexy space-opera; Y: The Last Man, an end-of-the-world story; now, with We Stand on Guard, Vaughan dramatically ups his body count in a tale of an American resource war that's a lot closer to home than the invasion of Iraq.

Black women are already superheroes

What can game developers do to better represent black women in games?

College student wants graphic novels banned: "I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography"

Tara Shultz, 20, of Yucaipa, CA along with her parents and friends are protesting the inclusion of four award-winning graphic novels that are taught in an English class at Crafton Hills College because they feel they are too violent and pornographic to be read by college students. On Thursday they assembled outside the campus administration building to express their outrage. The four graphic novels are Fun Home by Alison Bechdel; Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1 by Brian Vaughan; The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman; and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography,” Shultz told the Redland Daily Facts Newspaper. But Shultz was provided with complete information about which books would be covered in the class. Because Shultz did not pay attention to the syllabus, she and her parents and their friends now want to prohibit everyone from reading the books at the college.

From the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund:

Shultz, who is working towards an Associate of Arts in English at the public community college, signed up for English 250: Fiction because it fulfills one part of her degree requirements. She was apparently aware that the specific focus of the class was graphic novels, but she told the newspaper that “I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography.” Shultz says that Associate Professor Ryan Bartlett, who has taught the course for three terms without any other complaints, failed to adequately warn students about the books’ content. Her father Greg Shultz said that “if they (had) put a disclaimer on this, we wouldn’t have taken the course.” Tara Shultz agreed, saying that Bartlett “should have stood up the first day of class and warned us.”

Of course, Shultz and her parents did have complete information about which books would be covered in the class – the school requires instructors (p.

Read the rest

Saga Deluxe Edition Volume 1 hardcover

Saga, the creator-owned gonzo science fiction comic from Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples may be the best sf comic since Warren Ellis's Transmetropolitan, and the three collections published to date are already canon, with the long-awaited number four around the corner. To get all your friends ready for it, there's a new gorgeous, massive hardcover volume collecting the first three installments.

Behind the scenes at Saga

Hey, Brian K. Vaughan here with an exclusive excerpt for my friends at Boing Boing of the creator roundtable between artist Fiona Staples, letterer Fonografiks, and Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson featured in the back of SAGA: BOOK ONE, a new hardcover collection of our first eighteen issues. As the writer, I have arguably the easiest job of any of my collaborators, but check out how much I whine and complain at the scripting stage of our twelve-step process...

Humble Image Bundle: name your price for Walking Dead, Saga, Chew and more; benefit CBLDF too!

The latest Humble Bundle teams up with DRM-free indie comics leader Image Comics, offering nine digital titles from Image on a name-your-price basis. You can also divert some or all of your payment to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a vital free speech organization that helps comics publishers, creators and sellers who face censorship and even jail for daring to create cutting-edge media.

The bundle includes some of my favorite comics, including the comics version of The Walking Dead (even better than the TV show); the spectacular Saga (a delightfully unhinged effort from Brian Vaughan, who also created Y: The Last Man); and the genuinely demented Chew.

As with all the Humble Bundles, the Image Bundle is an object lesson in the trustworthiness of audiences, and the value of giving people what they want at an unarguably fair price (since you get to name your own) with a creator-friendly deal that lets readers and creators connect more directly than ever before in publishing history. I just bought in!

Humble Image Comics Bundle (pay what you want and help charity) Read the rest

This Day in Blogging History: Jaw-sink; T.Rex skeleton for sale; Y: The Last Man

One year ago today Sink that looks like a gap-toothed jaw: the mustardy tiles, and the ornate, gilt-framed mirror.

Five years ago today Buy a full-size T. Rex replica: $100,000 gets you a STAN museum-grade T-Rex replica, a whopping 40' long and 12' high.

Ten years ago today Must-read comic, Y: The Last Man: It's the story of a mysterious plague that sweeps the earth, instantly killing every man (and male beast) -- except one: Yorick. Read the rest

Saga: visually stunning, sweet and exciting space opera comic from Brian "Y: The Last Man" Vaughan

Brian K Vaughan is best known for creating the wonderful apocalyptic adventure-comic Y: The Last Man. His new project, Saga, is a significant departure from Y in setting and tone, but it is every bit as great -- and a little bit better, if you ask me.

The setup is that two posthuman species -- a moon-dwelling tribe of horned magic-users and a planet-based race of high-tech winged people -- are locked in an endless war that spills out across the galaxy, embroiling all the races of all the planets in a series of vicious, permanent proxy-wars. In the midst of this, Marko and Alana, soldiers from opposite sides of the war, fall in love, desert and have a baby, and kick off a sprawling space-opera as they flee from their respective armies and the bounty hunters they hire.

Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples let their imaginations run wild with this story, giving us a galaxy populated by creature-shop aliens that are somewhere between Duchamp and Disney, a Mos Eisley Cantina times a million. Vaughan weaves a splendid romantic adventure around this, with sweet Nick-and-Nora dialog that never feels forced. But the story transcends mere pace-pounding, and manages moments of sweetness, sorrow, and sentiment that will have you daubing your eyes between laughing and gasping over audacious battles. It's like The Incal, but with a more straightforward (and more self-disciplined) storyline, and it's a reminder that as a visual medium, science fiction has tricks that are just stupendous. Read the rest

Sweet Tooth: gripping, post-apocalyptic graphic novel off to a killer start

Jeff Lemire's Sweet Tooth Vol. 1: Out of the Woods is a great post-apocalyptic graphic novel in the tradition of The Walking Dead and Y: The Last Man, featuring likable innocents walking a blasted, ruined America, helped and hindered by good people gone bad, and bad people gone worse.

In Sweet Tooth, we meet Gus, a 9-year-old boy living in a shack in the woods with his dying, deeply (and crazily) religious father. Gus isn't like other boys: he lives in the woods and has never seen a living soul apart from his father (and his mother, who died when he was an infant).

Oh, and Gus has antlers.

Some sort of plague has destroyed the world; a plague that made some children born part animal, a plague that is killing Gus's father. All Gus's father wants from his boy is for him to stay hidden once he is alone, to stay in the woods and avoid the fires of hell that burn outside their woods. But when his father finally dies, Gus is hunted by evil men from beyond, and then rescued by a strange, dour fellow who promises to take him to The Reservation, where other children like Gus are kept.

So begins the road trip, spattered with violence and slow revelations about the hell that has been visited on the earth. This first volume only gets the story started, gets us to a place of extreme and intense suspense, and then cuts off. If you can't wait to find out what happened next, you can try your local comic-shop for the singles that follow, but I'm going to wait for next December, and volume 2 of the bound graphic novels. Read the rest

Y: The Last Man, the triumphal last volume of a fantastic graphic novel

It's a measure of how far behind I am in my reading that I've only just gotten to read the final volume of Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra's graphic novel "Y: The Last Man," which I've been following for years now, eagerly awaiting the resolution of the series' many storylines and subplots (for those of you who have the good fortune to be discovering this for the first time -- here's the first issue -- I'll sum up quickly: a mysterious event simultaneously kills every man on earth except for Yorick Brown, a down-on-his-luck escape artist whose fiancee, Beth, is on the other side of the world in Australia; he spends the next five years touring the planet's many brave and terrible places looking for her, while he is pursued by geopolitical powers of varying types and character).

Endings are hard. Vaughan and Guerra nailed it.

After six years of following this story, there were times when I despaired for it. The world of Y was so broken, the storylines so convoluted, and some of the hints at resolution were so off-kilter (particularly the last volume, which hinted at a quasi-mystical direction that really left me cold) that I seriously doubted that the creators would be able to end it all in a way that made it all come together with dignity, credibility and real love for the principle characters.

This last volume, called "Whys and Wherefores," does it all. It opens with a rocketing storyline that tears towards a massive and gripping climax, and then moves into a denouement that is one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Read the rest

DMZ Friendly Fire: reinventing war comics, making them better and more important

I've just finished DMZ: Friendly Fire, the fourth collection for Brian Wood's incredible, next-gen war comic that is busily redefining the genre as something more relevant and important than it ever was before. In the DMZ storyline, America is plunged into civil war, a war between the redneck Free States movement and the authoritarian, Iraq-shocked US military. The two armies meet in New York, turning Manhattan into a giant, rent-asunder demilitarized zone, where only one reporter, the unlikely young Matty Roth, tells the real story of what goes on in the latest, endless war.

The DMZ stories manage to combine the tough, thrilling character of golden age war comics with sharp and complex analysis of the big questions underpinning the modern age of politicized, commercialized warfare.

In Friendly Fire, Matty is charged with covering the military tribunal for the squad who conducted the Day 204 Massacre in which nearly 200 peaceful protesters were gunned down by a hair-trigger force who thought they saw a gun (or did see a gun, or planted a gun). Wood's tight, super-focused storytelling never tells us what exactly happened on Day 204, and manages to make heroes out of the worst villains and villains out of the biggest heroes.

DMZ keeps getting better and better. Between this and books like The Walking Dead, Fables and Y: The Last Man, it feels like we're living in a renaissance of amazing comic book storytelling. Link

See also: DMZ: graphic novel, a worthy successor to Transmetropolitan DMZ Public Works: New collection of moving, thrilling graphic novel Cory and DMZ's Brian Wood interviewed on iFanBoy DMZ comic t-shirt Read the rest

DMZ: graphic novel, a worthy successor to Transmetropolitan

Once in a long while, a new comic book series comes along that just kicks the hell out of you, melding words and pictures in a way that is impossible in any other medium, telling a story that you can't put down, one that changes the way you see the world.

I've just finished the first two collections from Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli's DMZ, and its really, really goddamned great.

DMZ is set in a near-future America torn apart by a new civil war. The "Free State" army is a band of redneck insurgents, sick of an America in decline, who've brought Iraq-style asymmetric warfare to the streets of America. Starting in small towns and sweeping across the country, they are fought to a standstill in Manhattan, the DMZ, where they face off against the US military.

Matty Roth is a kid journalist in Manhattan, the sole survivor of an abortive attempt to drop a Geraldo-like journalist into the DMZ to get the "real story" for Liberty, a politicized TV network with the ethics of Rupert Murdoch's FOX. Matty is the intern, but he's got the gear, and the guts, and he sets about telling the stories of a Manhattan under siege, where all the rich people have gotten out, leaving the poor behind for target practice by both armies.

DMZ has the guts and verve of Transmetropolitan, and a similar structure, too -- episodic slice-of-life views into a city in glorious, self-devouring ruin, shot through with an overarching plot about the fight of average people and brave journalists to expose official corruption. Read the rest

Fan video-game treatment for Y: The Last Man comic

Mike has created a treatment for a video-game adaptation of the kick-ass graphic novel Y: The Last Man. It's clear that somewhere in reading the series, a thunderclap sounded in Mike's head, and this whole game thing appeared as if in a vision. It's got the vibe of a bolt out of the blue.
GAMEPLAY: As much as YTLM is a story about Yorrick's struggle to survive, get to the bottom of the plague mystery and re-unite with his girlfriend, he is always surrounded by others vital to his quest, most importantly Agent 355, Ampersand and Dr. Mann. This lends itself beautifully to squad-based gameplay with the user able to control in realtime which character they control (more on this in a minute). To do justice to both those times when the story develops more deliberately as well as those when split-second action dominates, we see an Action/RTS hybrid.
Link (Thanks, Mike!)

See also: New "Y: The Last Man" collection Must-read comic, Y: The Last Man Y: The Last Man - Kimono Dragons New "Y: The Last Man" collection: great sf adventure Read the rest

Y: The Last Man - Kimono Dragons

The new collected volume of the Y: The Last Man graphic novel series is out and it has left me on exquisite tenterhooks. This is one of my favorite graphic novel serials, about the travails of the last man left on earth after a mysterious plague wipes out every male animal on the planet save for Yorick Brown (the slacker magician son of a minor politico) and his pet monkey, Ampersand.

As civilization rebuilds itself after the death of 48 percent of the world's population, it confronts the possibility that the last generation of humans is alive today. Some turn to acts of heroism, others to barbarism, and Yorick sees them all as he travels incognito with a secret agent who has been charged with getting him to a lab where the secret of his survival can be uncovered.

In the new edition, Kimono Dragons, Yorick and Ampersand end up in Tokyo, which is miraculously unscathed -- or at least, so it seems. As they explore further, it becomes apparent that the Yakuza has been taken over by ruthless Japanese subculture teenagers -- Harajuku Bridge meets the Sopranos -- and that the vice industry continues to thrive.

The storytelling in Y is perfect for a serial -- tight, intense, and riddled with cliff-hangers. This installment is no exception. I am dying to read the next one!

Link, Link to every Y: The Last Man Collection

See also: New "Y: The Last Man" collection Must-read comic, Y: The Last Man New "Y: The Last Man" collection: great sf adventure comic Read the rest

New "Y: The Last Man" collection: great sf adventure comic

Y: The Last Man is one of my three top favorite comic book series, and the latest bound collection has just hit the shelves. Y is the story of Yorick Brown, the last male survivor of a mystery plague that has wiped out all the men on Earth. The seven (and counting) volumes in the saga chronicle his encounters with mysterious espionage rings, homespun farm communities, radical Amazon warriors, government thugs and civic heroes, and there's never a moment to stop and catch your breath on the way.

Volume 7, Paper Dolls, picks up the story with Yorick on a sub docked in a heroin-wracked Australia. Yorick convinces his minders to let him slip into Sydney to try to track down his long-lost fiancee. About half the book is told in flashbook, filling in the fascinating life's stories of characters we've come to know and love. The artwork is expressive -- sometimes moody and sometimes comic, but always sharp. The dialogue is likewise sharp: the wisecracks in Y are some of the best reasons to pick this series up.

Y makes me wish I had a time machine so I could jump forward six or eight months and pick up the next collection. Every one of the Y books has left me wanting more. Lots more.

Book 7 Link, Book 6 Link Book 5 Link, Book 4 Link, Book 3 Link, Book 2 Link, Book 1 Link

See also: The first Y collection The fifth Y collection Read the rest

New "Y: The Last Man" collection

Back in 2003, I blogged about the must-read comic book/graphic novel series "Y: The Last Man." Yesterday I picked up the fifth collection in the series, Ring of Truth, and read the whole thing on the way home on the tube.

The plot of Y: The Last Man is a pretty straightforward apocalyptic tale: one day, every man on earth drops dead, blood gushing from their noses and mouths, leaving no one behind but women, and one man, and one male monkey (his pet -- a helper monkey he's been training). The setup rapidly progresses into a gripping, funny, sad and lovely tale of the post-apocalyptic world.

Book five seems to be firmly on the downhill side toward a conclusion, something we don't get nearly often enough in the world of funnybooks. The art is tremendous, too -- there's a page 60 showing a teenage girl storming away from Thanksgiving dinner that is possibly the most expressive bit of comic book art I've ever seen. Book 5 Link, Book 4 Link, Book 3 Link, Book 2 Link, Book 1 Link

Update: Javier sez, "The first issue of 'Y: The Last Man' is available as a PDF file from the DC Comics website." Read the rest

Downloading comics: threat or menace?

A comics fan who thinks downloading comics is immoral posted a long rant to a message board, urging readers to shun comics-trading sites. The debate that follows has several excellent posts -- but the most interesting ones come from fanatical comics-buyers who download books they already own in hardcopy because it's a "good way to be able to go back and reread a book without running the risk of damaging it" and so forth.

The comics industry has been creaking and threatening collapse for as long as I've been reading funnybooks. One thing that's always frustrated me is the incomprehensible lag between the monthly books and the bound collections: if you wander into a bookstore and discover issues 1-5 of Y: The Last Man or Issues 1-5 of Fables (both stone brilliant; run, don't walk) and fall in love, why you can go on to pick up the subsequent collections, three or four books each in all. Now, say you've read up to issue 20 of Fables and you don't want to wait for the next collection to come out: you want to take the plunge and become a regular, monthly comics reader. You go down to your local comics store and say, "Please sell me issues 21 through the current issue of Fables, and put the current ish aside for me every month: I'm hooked!"

What usually happens is the comics person will say, "Sorry, we've got issue 25, which is the current one, and number 24, but that's it -- the older ones are out of print." In other words, you got on the Fables boat too late and you're not going to be able to catch up with the book in comics form without buying issues from collectors or off of eBay. Read the rest

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