Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Don't get too excited, they're mostly review copies. Younger writers are always looking for "blurbs", one of the few words that sounds exactly as awful as the crime it's describing."
Bookgasm is right!
This glorious hardcover reprints the first three softcovers with additional process material in the back as Brian, Fiona and their various cohorts show you down to the most minute detail how a single issue of SAGA is creating from beginning to end. By "beginning" I mean Brian shutting himself off in his shed (it's probably not a potting shed: I bet it has heating at least and far fewer spiders) and maps out each page in a single sentence before sitting down to write a full script.
It's at this point he bursts into tears and pulls all his hair out. Ummm. So that's how that happened.
It's a relief to know that something that seems so effortlessly brilliant actually involves sweat and tears - actual tears. As well as a great deal of editing.
Fiona takes you through her own process from the clearest of thumbnails - you can see exactly what's happening to the fully "painted" pages minus everything than the lettering. Although young Hazel's narration? That's Staples too.
And then there's the cover and its design and the thought that goes into that blew me away. Sorry
? You want to know about the story itself,,,?
It's beautiful, funny and completely unpredictable. New readers, I present you with
previously in SAGA:
Alana and Marko are in love. She's from the planet Landfall; he's from its moon. Unfortunately their people have been at war for as long as anyone can recall. But both factions soon realised that either world's destruction would cause the other to spin out of orbit. Such an assault would be suicidal.
So what they've kindly done is they've taken their fight to other people's worlds. Which is nice.
Marko was sent to the frontline, didn't like what he saw and surrendered. Alana was his captor and freed him. Each, therefore, is now on the run from their respective species for treachery, desertion
and blasphemy. Because, worst of all, they've successfully mated to produce a beautiful baby called Hazel. This unholy union is despised by all sides and for morale's sake - to ensure no one else gets the wretched idea that love might be better than hatred - all traces of it must be eradicated.
Marko's people have dispatched The Will, a phenomenal assassin with a Lying Cat. It is a cat that can tell if you're lying. Problematically, it has Tourette's Syndrome so it is likely to say so right in the middle of your poker-faced bluff. Alana's people have dispatched Prince Robot IV from a race of walking, talking, fornicating television sets. You'll be surprised what pops up on his screen.
But Marko and Alana have at least found sanctuary in a semi-sentient, wood-based rocketship along with an impromptu babysitter from what's left of Cleave's indigenous population. She's a floating, glowing, pink ghost of a girl with her lower half missing, trailing her intestines behind her.
Finally they arrive with Marko's abrasive mother at the doorstep of monocular D. Oswald Heist, the avuncular author of the subversive romance novel that first brought the couple together. He has much to impart: wisdom, wit and cunning ways to win at board games. He's singularly smart at ensuring hot heads see eye to eye with him, even winning over Marko's mother by being candid when it counts.
"They say it's the worst pain imaginable, losing a child. But that wasn't my experience. Don't get me wrong, my son's death just about destroyed me. But if I'm being honest, nothing will ever hurt quite so deeply as the moment I heard the first person I ever really loved was gone. But I don't need to tell you that, do I?"
"I wear it that plainly?"
"I'm guessing you lost him recently. For what it's worth, your son will get better with time. And maybe you will, too. But if your spouse was anything like mine, I regret to inform you that the rest of your days will be, by and large, kind of shit."
Vaughan has enormous fun using this author scenario to poke fun at himself via Heist who first presents himself to the family outside his lighthouse lurching under the influence with a gun in one hand, a bottle in the other, and urine-stained Y-fronts splayed between a dressing gown whose loose belt trails over the rocks beneath his pink-slippered feet.
"Over the years, we met every kind of person imaginable. But no one makes worse first impressions than writers."
I cannot even quote what Heist says to earn that accolade, but you will guffaw. Like everything here it is handled with delicate - or even indelicate - aplomb by Staples, as is a later scene in which Alana has managed to strike the fear of God into Heist to the extent that his hands close weakly in tentative terror, held up almost in supplication. How has she done this?
"If you like kids' books so much, why haven't you ever written one?"
"Because it requires collaborating with an artist. And artists
The Will, meanwhile, is nursing his ship's wounds on a planet that seems like paradise, even if its flying fish are sharks which circle overhead. The age-old problem with paradise, of course, is that you have to be very careful what you eat. Haunted and taunted by his dead ex-girlfriend, The Will also has to contend with Marko's ex-fiancée who doesn't handle rejection very well. Nor unsolicited attention, for that matter. I really wouldn't do that, The Will.
They have with them a girl whom The Will rescued from sexual slavery in SAGA VOL 1. She is bright, optimistic, yet suffering from the scars of what she was once made to do. In related news: the best-ever use of the Lying Cat which will elicit the biggest of "Awwws" from each of you and maybe a few choked-back sobs.
All our protagonists will converge before the end of this chapter which, I would suggest, concludes Act One. As surprising as anything and everything that precedes it, I think you will love the punchline.