Image At 25: What ‘Saga’ Meant To My Relationship
Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, is one of those comics that seems to have almost universal appeal. I've recommended it to so many friends who have never really tried comics, and the feedback is almost always the same; "Where do I find more?" There's a simplicity to its premise that is powerful, in that the power of love can unite even the worst of foes.
In my relationship (a grand old age of seven years), comics have always just been my "thing." I'm sure some of you have relatable stories of trying to get other halves into comics and it not sticking. The same is true with me --- I've tried many times to get Helen reading comics, and the closest I came was a run of Ms. Marvel comics. She was fully invested until the inevitable artist switch --- which we comics fans know as just a part of the medium --- kicked her out, and she gave up on it.
Then we tried Saga. I think there's something to be said about the usual Image Comics trait of keeping an artist on for the majority of the run, and there's very few exceptions to this rule through most of the publishers' series. It seems like a silly little thing, but for non-comics fans like my girlfriend, it actually contributed a lot to her enjoyment of other series. I think it's true of a lot of non-comic people, as you don't get that change in other mediums as noticeably. You don't, for example, have actors change character half way through a film (which was how the effects of the Ms. Marvel change was explained to me).
After the first volume of Saga we started to talk about it; what we thought might happen, where we thought the characters would go; and suddenly this little comic had opened up a world that was otherwise alien to Helen. It opened up what was just my little niche, and it became something we could engage with together.
So we started getting excited about buying each new (to us) volume of Saga, and it was during volume two we started to read it together. It's weird, maybe, but we snuggle up and read a few issues at a time. We even started doing voices (sorry Helen). It's taken on something a little more than just a communal interest, or a shared thing we read together. It's overtaken "event TV," where we'd sit down a Monday night (in the UK) and watch an episode of Game of Thrones in near silence, waiting to talk about it at the end, or seeing a film and chatting about it over a drink. It's become an interactive, back-and-forth experience that I don't think you can replicate in any other medium.
It sounds silly to say that Saga had a profound effect on our relationship, but what it did was give us something else to engage with. In a world full of staring at smartphones or passively watching TV series, reading a comic together meant we could sit together and laugh, chat, make stupid noises and silly faces... and just exist together in that space. It meant we could be 'present' in a way few other mediums allow you to be when vying for your attention.
And it all comes down to a book that couldn't exist at any other publisher, and a creative team working together for years, keeping it fresh, and appealing to an audience base that isn't just about 60+ years of lore.
For that, to Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples and Image Comics, I can only say: never stop.