If you're not reading Saga yet, Book 7 proves you should get caught up RIGHT NOW
Saga is Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples' magnificent, visually stunning, adventurous, funny, raunchy, complex and provocative graphic novel; the first six volumes of collected comics moved from strength to strength, fleshing out a universe that was simultaneously surreal and deadly serious, where cute characters could have deadly-serious lives: now, with volume 7, Staples and Vaughan continue their unbroken streak of brilliance.
You know that bit at the start of The Princess Bride where the narrator's father (or grandfather, in the movie) is selling the book to the young boy? All the virtues he enumerates? "Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles."
That's Saga for you. Volume 7 fleshes out some of the series' best villains (Prince Robot is such a perfect, well-rounded baddie now!); introduces an entire new species of fatalistic weasels as well as impossibly vast, planet-eating babies; gives us vengeance and bravery; comeuppance and self-sacrifice; and heart-ripping tragedies.
Saga feels like it's hitting the balance George Lucas got so horribly wrong with his three prequels: mixing real politics (and realpolitik) with fast-paced adventure and some of the most eyeball-kicking visuals this side of Mos Eisley Cantina (or Metal Hurlant). Vaughan is nominally the writer and Staples the illustrator, but from Vaughan's own descriptions, I know that Staples is really best thought of as a co-writer, and the collaboration is so very fruitful.
I know that it's hard to imagine jumping into a series that's already produced seven collected volumes, but if there's one thing Staples and Vaughan keep proving, it's that this is a series that will repay your investment of time and attention.
Saga Volume 7 [Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples/Image Comics]
Volumes 1/2 (2013)
Volume 3 (2014)
Volume 4 (2014)
Volume 5 (2015)
Volume 6 (2016)
Kickstarting Dream Askew and Dream Apart, no-dice, no-GM RPGs about radical justice, queers and Jewish shtetl life
Dream Askew and Dream Apart are "no-dice, no masters" RPGs where players collaborate to tell stories together without dice or dungeon masters: Dream Askew uses the system to create campaigns in "a queer enclave enduring the collapse of civilization" and Dream Apart is set in "a Jewish shtetl in a fantastical-historical Eastern Europe."
In Gregory Scott Katsoulis's All Rights Reserved, we get all the traditional trappings of a first-rate YA dystopia: grotesque wealth disparity leading to a modern caste system, draconian surveillance to effect social control in an inherently unstable state, ad-driven ubiquitous entertainment as the only distraction from environmental collapse -- but with an important difference.
I found John Hodgman's Vacationland to be a genuinely moving and hilarious read; and it has stuck with me in the year since its hardcover release -- now it's out in paperback, and Hodgman is touring with it.
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