“Between the Panels” is a bi-weekly interview series focusing on comic book creators of all experience levels, seeking to examine not just what each individual creates, but how they go about creating it.
For anyone who’s been reading comics in the last 20 years, Brian K. Vaughan probably doesn’t need much of an introduction. His name has been front and center on some of the most acclaimed books of the 21st century, from Ex Machina to Y the Last Man to Saga. But before that, the current superstar was a determined young writer with a professional dream in his sights.
First off, the basics…
Your specialties (artist/writer/letterer/inker/etc.): Writer
Your home base: Los Angeles
Fanbase Press Contributor Kevin Sharp: Why comics? As a writer, what’s appealing to you about specifically the comics medium?
Brian K. Vaughan: I love visual storytelling and I love collaborating with other creators, and so it kinda limits the places you can go. I could do theater, I could do film, I could do television — and almost all of those art forms are extraordinarily expensive. Show business is always going to be business first and comics takes all of those artistic elements with almost none of the economic drawbacks. You know, you don’t have to focus test anything, you’re not trying to reach the broadest audience possible; you and your small band of collaborators are just trying to get out something pure and personal into the world.
KS: Starting at the beginning, what was your access to comics growing up? Did you have a local comic shop, were you a spinner rack kid, or maybe both?
BKV: I guess it began for me with my parents picking up comic books at the drugstore for me when I was home sick from school. In retrospect, I now think that there might be something to discovering this new medium while we’re in a fever state that makes your brain more receptive. But I didn’t know where comics came from — they came from my mom and dad first. My family moved to Dallas, Texas, from Ohio for two years when I was a kid and I met some other kids who were like, “Have you been to Casablanca Comics?” And that was my first time going to a comic book store. I think it was later renamed Blue Phoenix Comics, but it was just magical from jump street. The moment I walked through that door, to just have an entire store dedicated to comic books, I was immediately smitten. There was no going back. That was third or fourth grade, and from then on, I’ve been a weekly visitor to whatever my local comic book shop is.
KS: You were born in Ohio?
BKV: I was born and raised in Rocky River, Ohio. Stony Stream in Paper Girls is a thinly veiled version of my little, suburban neighborhood. I grew up in Cleveland, moved to Dallas, moved back to Cleveland. I was there until college, then went to New York.
KS: If we time traveled back Paper Girls style and flipped through young Brian’s comic collection, what books would we see?
BKV: Almost no team books. I was not a team book guy, but I was also totally agnostic when it came to publishers. I didn’t care about Marvel or DC or Dark Horse or anything. I just liked a good story that I could fall into. I liked characters like Superman, like Spider-Man where there’s one “extraordinary” character at the center of their story, and then there is a very human supporting cast. That’s what I was into — superhero stuff. Spider-Man was my number one favorite, and then Batman. Hulk is up there, too.
KS: That’s interesting about team books, because for me and most of my comic-buying friends back in our allowance days, an issue of JLA was a better investment than an issue of, say, Detective.
BKV: I’ve heard this many times. I don’t think I would’ve been able to articulate at the time, but there was something so… artificial on top of artificial, that there was nowhere to plug myself into the story. There was nothing relatable about it. It was just a bunch of gods hanging with each other. Very little appeal for me.
KS: You mentioned liking a good story you could fall into. What was one that really rang your bell back in those early reading days?
BKV: This is a boring, predictable answer, but Watchmen was the one that changed everything for me. We were on a family road trip to North Carolina, and I begged to stop at a comic store — and it had Watchmen. It was a big, thick book, and I was like, “I’ve heard good things and this looks interesting.” [laughter] So yeah, I read that graphic novel from start to finish driving back to Ohio, and I was a completely different human being by the end of that trip. It took everything I loved about comics, but I suddenly felt the hands of the creators. A sense of there are people behind this and they’re not just telling a ripping good yarn. It was unlike anything else I’d seen — any movie, any TV show. I cannot reiterate how much Watchmen just reorganized my brain.
KS: Had you been aware of writing before then? With aspiring artists, it’s easy to look back and see what styles they responded to early on, but with writers, it’s harder to say you prefer a Mark Waid comic over a Len Wein comic.
BKV: Completely. I don’t think when I was reading GI Joe — there’s a team book I liked! — that I had any sense of who was writing that. Or if I was jumping between Web of Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man, I didn’t pay attention to the credits. Watchmen changed that; that’s where I really started to pay attention. And rather than following characters, that was the moment I started following writers. So, I went back and read every issue of Swamp Thing, everything Alan Moore did, which led me to Neil Gaiman and then to Garth Ennis eventually. That was the beginning of caring very little about what character I was reading, and even less about what publisher I was reading, and entirely about who the writer was.
KS: How about outside of comics? Did you follow writers in any other formats?
BKV: I was a big book nerd, so sure. But even there, you know, I loved To Kill a Mockingbird, but didn’t go seek out… not that there would’ve been many other places to go from there. [laughter] My dad was and remains an obsessive reader; I would see on his bookshelf, like, 13 books by this guy named Stephen King. This guy must matter. Where can I start? And my dad would gently push me towards Eyes of the Dragon, then from there, “I think you might be ready for Misery, give this a try.” I was aware of novelists before I was aware of comic book writers.
KS: Were they more excited to see you with a “real” book than a comic?
BKV: I have give my parents so much credit in that they never saw any distinction. They didn’t care if it was Hot Dog magazine or TV Guide; if we were reading and we were interested in it, we had their support.
KS: Can you look back and see when the thought kind of coalesced for you that “I want to be a writer?”
BKV: As early as sixth grade. My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Koenig, at St. Bernadette’s in Cleveland encouraged us to enter this playwriting contest. I won, I got a $100 savings bond for it, and was able to purchase my coveted Nintendo Entertainment System. I have to admit I’m pretty mercenary. From the get-go, I was like, “This is one of the first things I did, and I won a three-figure sum for it. This is spectacular!” [laughter] Especially around that time, I had a speech impediment where I couldn’t say my R’s. I was terrified of talking and communicating with other kids, so to have this outlet felt like I could finally speak and not be laughed at. It was extraordinary.
I went to a new school in seventh grade, and that teacher introduced us to something called Power of the Pen. It was a competitive writing — I don’t even know what you would call it — situation where kids from different schools would show up. They would give us a prompt, we would write in a room for about an hour, and I won something else there, too. There was so much positive reinforcement from an early age. I loved writing, but also, by the time I got to high school, I sort of figured out my speech problems. I really got into acting and I loved that. I started making short films. I guess I didn’t think of myself as a writer — I thought of myself as a creative weirdo. The writing really didn’t sort of come until college.
KS: I can’t let this topic go without circling back to that sixth grade play. What can you tell us?
BKV: It was called “I Have a Dream.” [laughter] Yeah. It was a very well-intentioned, “woke before woke” story about a white kid learning about race. I think it was probably inspired by comedian Wyatt Cenac from The Daily Show — he was my best friend in those two years I was in Texas. It was inspired by him but written in the most ham-fisted way possible.
KS: You broke into comics at 19 after dabbling in all these other media. Help me out on the timeline — where does working in that field enter your thinking?
BKV: Around my senior year of high school, I started getting into From Hell and I was deep into Vertigo, but no thought about pursuing it as a career. Because how could you, right? Where would you go? Who would teach you how to do this thing? It just wasn’t an option, but film school was. I loved every element of visual storytelling, so I went to NYU and I was really… not great as a film [student] almost from the beginning. [laughter] It was extremely frustrating, ‘cause I had all these wonderful ideas in my head and every short film was just this failed science experiment. And it would cost extra money, it would cost beyond the wild expense of going to school. It would have to buy additional physical film. I would have to take it to go get developed. I was miserable. Then, I read in Wizard magazine [about] something called the “Stanhattan Project” — a Marvel editor started this sort of informal writing program to try and find new talent. It was at NYU! Joe Kelly had graduated from it. Joe Kelly, the TA who wheeled televisions into our room? That guy got a job through this? I was breathlessly excited.
KS: Was there an application for it? An artist could show a portfolio, but did you have to prove your writing chops somehow?
BKV: Absolutely nothing. James Felder, who’s an extraordinary writer and thinker, was an editor at Marvel at the time. I think he just had this idea that Marvel was getting sort of incestuous, that a lot of writers were former editors, former assistant editors, and he was like, “We should look outside of ourselves. We’ve got this university right down the street where they’re teaching kids how to write.” And although this was never articulated, I suspect that part of the thinking was, too, is that we would work for cheap. That was it. And it wasn’t official. I think NYU probably would’ve been terrified if anyone found out that they were teaching a comic book course — this was the ‘90s, before they had the respectability they do today. We just meet in secret in this room after hours. There were a lot of people in the first day, probably half as many the second week. James came in, “Here are some comic script, here are some undialogued pages.” I was really, for the first time in school, happy. I felt like I belonged.
KS: If you’re able to look back with objective eyes, what you were good at then that got you in the door?
BKV: It was a really bizarre skill that almost doesn’t exist too much anymore. At the time, Marvel was still doing kind of the “Marvel Method” way of writing. So, instead of a traditional full script where you’re describing all of the action and the dialogue, it would start with just a loose plot. The way Stan Lee would do it, a writer would maybe write something as short as a page or two, sort of a Reader’s Digest version of what is happening this issue. Then, this poor artist would have to take that little bit of story and transform it into 22 magical pages. And sometimes, the person who wrote that first plot would not be available to then write all of the dialogue over this. It turned out, if you gave me 22 pages of art that I had nothing to do with, I was really good at laying something over it that would elevate it. I realized, “This artwork is beautiful, I’m not gonna cover it up with too much writing. I see an opportunity here for a fun line that I could pay off down here.” It’s a bizarre skill that wouldn’t translate to any other medium.
Aside from that, I was fast. I really think that was important. It’s a cliché, but something that I was told early is that if you’re gonna be working freelancer, it is good, fast, easy to work with — you have to be two of the three. No one’s three of the three. I didn’t know if I was good yet, but I would be fast and easy to work with. With Stanhattan, I was doing it as a student, but when an emergency would pop up where they were like, “We have this issue of Wolverine that we have 22 pages of art for. Can you get us dialogue tomorrow for it?” And I’d be like, “Not only can I get you dialogue, but you don’t have to FedEx it to me, which is expensive. I’ll come and pick it up from the Marvel offices, take it back to my dorm, then run it back when it’s done.”
KS: So, the first paycheck that you got for any comics work was what?
BKV: The first check I got was for something that wasn’t published. They gave me a $5-a-page tryout rate; I think it was an X-Men Annual or something. And they’re like, “Show us what you can do. Just write some dialogue over this.” They sent me that check with Spider-Man on it, and I had to make a decision whether to frame it and keep it forever. It was $180, which was a fortune to me, so I had to cash it in. I photocopied it, though! Then, my first published work I believe is the hilariously longly titled Age of Apocalypse: Sinister Bloodlines.
KS: This is an example of someone’s dream actually coming true in real time — you wanted to be a comics writer and now you are. What did your overall life look like then? Take us back there.
BKV: I’m a junior in college. I think I’d just been dumped by a girl. I’m broke. My short films are going terribly. I was not in the best place. Then, I met Neil Gaiman at a signing in New York, waited in [line] to meet him and I asked if he had any advice. I’ve talked with other writers about this before, but other people who’ve met Neil have gotten different bits of advice, which makes me think that Neil might have some sort of superpower where he can just look at a sad, struggling young writer and tell them immediately what they need to hear. [laughter] He looked at me and he said, “If you want to do this, get published as quickly as possible. Because nothing will make you want to get better, faster, than knowing that complete strangers are reading your work.” That’s insane advice by the way — just get published. I was like, “Yes, sir, I will do that.”
And I got published, and he was 100% right. ‘Cause I’d had a few years of film school, where when you write a screenplay or something, you sit in a circle and you read it aloud to other fragile, young students, and everyone is very nice and you feel great. Then, I wrote Ka-Zar Annual ’97 and I was in a store with all these other mean strangers imagining them flipping through, being like, “How did they publish this? Why did they let this escape into the world?” [laughter] The internet was just starting then, so I wondered if anyone was talking about this online, and you see oh, they are and they hate it. So, it was brutal, but it was good. Neil Gaiman was right.
KS: If young Brian was in line at a signing for current Brian and asked for advice, what would you tell him?
BKV: Usually, I give the same advice to everyone, which is: Throw away your video game console. You don’t get to do that anymore. You can do that eventually, not right now. The reason you have to throw it away is you have to write five pages every day. It doesn’t matter if they’re terrible, or wonky journal entries, but just write five pages a day. That’s the advice no one wants to hear. I don’t think you need to go to school, or read any books, or be part of any workshops. You just need to write every day and read every day. I started doing that in high school. I took a class my senior year called Writing the Novel with [a] crazy teacher who said, “Let’s try to jam out a book in a semester. I don’t care, just write every night, write five pages, something.” I would be falling asleep at my shitty word processor at night, but it was like lifting weights — not that that was something I have ever done — in that the gains were immediate. You’re [a] senior in high school, but after a week of forcing myself to write five pages every day, by Friday you could see how much better I was already than Monday. So, that’s it. From my senior year of high school until today, I just always tried to get those pages out. That’s probably what I would’ve told young Brian, then he would’ve been like, “I’m already doing that motherf—r, so gimme some helpful advice.” [laughter]
KS: In the time that we have, rather than doing a rushed tour of all the different books you’ve written, I wanted to focus more on big-picture craft questions. You’re someone who’s had multiple titles going at once — I think you’re currently doing two, with Saga and Spectators…
BKV: There was briefly a time where I had five!
KS: Yeah, yikes. Whether it’s two or five or somewhere in between, how do you compartmentalize — mentally and/or practically — to be able to cleanly transition between storylines, characters, what’s happening here versus over there?
BKV: It’s difficult because I would like to divide it more clearly, but you don’t always have that luxury ‘cause you’re in the middle of a script and then some fire comes up with another book, or you have to proof something. For the most part, I like to work on one issue at a time, and then the second that issue is over switch to a completely other book. I know Garth Ennis, if he’s writing a six-issue mini series, he will write all six issues in a row. I find that completely incomprehensible. I couldn’t do it. I’ve never chain smoked a Saga to another Saga — I have to break it up with something else.
KS: For example, if you finish a Saga script at noon, do you start something else at 1:00, or the next day, or…?
BKV: I recently heard Jason Aaron describe it as the “refractory period.” [laughter] The older you get, the longer the refractory period is. To put it graphically, it takes a while to get it up again after you finish. I feel immense relief the moment something is over; I get a day now, and it’s usually not just a day of being lazy instead of catching up on the 200 emails that I haven’t answered because I’ve been writing. But yeah, it’s do 22 pages of something, take a break, switch to 22 pages of something else. That’s how I’ve been doing it forever.
KS: What strikes me about the books most fans will associate you with is that they’re finite stories that ended or will be ending. Were you ever drawn to the idea of doing a long run on a character like Batman or Spidey, where you’re playing in someone else’s sandbox, then passing the toys off to the next person?
BKV: It’s interesting you use the phrase “someone else’s sandbox,” because that is how I look at it. Have you ever been in a sandbox before? They are gross. Someone else’s sandbox? There’s, like, an old Band-Aid in there, needles, a rusty Tonka truck. Sandboxes suck. I love Spider-Man, I love Batman, but I guess when I read Watchmen, I was like, “This is how it should be.” Again, I didn’t know how to articulate it at the time, but there felt something fake and sort of sad that Spider-Man wasn’t gonna have an ending. The illusion of a third act is what monthly superhero comics are about. When I got to that last page of Watchmen, the ending is what informs everything that came before and makes it this complete, meaningful story. I love endings. I wanted to try something like Runaways, where they let me create something of my own then pass the baton on, but even there, I wanted at least my story to have its own kind of ending. Beginning, middle, and ending is where it’s at for me. Usually, at least in mainstream comics, you have to go do your own thing if that’s what you crave.
KS: How conscious are you of a potential audience before you sit down to plan a book, recruit collaborators, and start cranking? Unlike a Marvel or DC title, you really have skin in the game when it’s entirely your baby. Do you have to stop and ask yourself, “Okay, who is this for?” or does that not enter your thinking at all?
BKV: Not at all. Something I was able to learn early is that I have no idea what the f—k people like. With Saga, it was, “This will probably be the last six issues of comics I ever write. I want to do something that is only for me, and who else would this possibly be for?” My great frustration with television is having to do all this audience testing. You have to be a responsible creator ‘cause it’s so expensive; you need to think about your audience. The beautiful thing about comics is, I think very deeply about my collaborators … whether the story works to [their] strengths. I hope the audience likes it, but I don’t know.
KS: You’ve been blessed with a Murderers’ Row of brilliant collaborators… Marcos Martin, Cliff Chiang, Pia Guerra, Tony Harris… I don’t want to leave anyone out, so I won’t try to be comprehensive. What do you think makes you a good collaborator? The track record you’ve had, you must be doing something right.
BKV: That’s nice of you. I guess you would have to ask the people I’ve worked with, but I guess it’s that I figured out early on that I’m working for the artist, they’re not working for me. Comic books are first and foremost a visual medium. It’s these images that are gonna be telling the story, so my job is to support the artist, to play to the artist’s strengths, to channel what I am trying to say through them and with them. I hope it’s because I respect them. I know how hard their job is and I want to give them a lot of space. I want to give them everything they need to do their job well, but also the freedom to know that if you see a better way to do this, you’re allowed to do that.
KS: Are you able to look back at your old comics dispassionately? Obviously, there are memories involved of the time and place where you wrote them, but as far as the craft involved, whether you nailed what you were going for.
BKV: Not dispassionately, but because I’ve been doing this long enough, I can look back at stuff that I wrote in the late ‘90s or the early aughts that I have so forgotten completely that it’s like reading another writer. I have so much distance that I can do that. But before Fiona and I started up Saga again after our hiatus, I forced myself to sit down and reread everything. That feels like drowning, to force yourself to revisit stuff that close — all I see is my failures, my mistakes, things I would like to do differently. Or, every once in a great while, to read something and be like, “Damn, that was really good. I don’t know where that came from or how I did it, but I peaked right there.” [laughter] So, downhill. Traditionally, it is nothing but misery to revisit my writing; getting to see the art is a pleasure.
KS: Nobody with a long career like yours gets to where they as a one-person show. Leaving aside the artists you’ve worked with, is there somebody who helped you at a key point anywhere along the way?
BKV: Oh, absolutely. Early on, when I was still in college, one of the first people I reached out to through AOL messenger is writer Jay Faerber, who was [also] an aspiring writer trying to break in. We were knocking on the same doors, and I would not have been able to do this without Jay. It is so hard and strange to be the freelancer looking for work. You have no one to talk to about that. Jay introduced me to Devin Grayson, another extraordinary writer. At the beginning of my career, I would never send a script to an editor without sending it first to either Jay or Devin or both. We read everything that each other wrote for a while, til eventually I could just so internalize what Jay was gonna say or what Devin was gonna say that I had my own sort of internal Jay/Devin sitting on my shoulders. You cannot break into this industry alone without someone to complain with, [and] to have those dear friends and amazing creators… I owe everything to those two.
KS: These days, setting aside whatever deadline pressure that you’re facing, how do you know when a script is ready? Who puts eyes on your writing before it “leaves the nest?”
BKV: Along with Jay and Devin, I used to send things to my brother David, who’s an amazing writer, and my wife Ruth, who’s also an incredible writer. There comes a time, I think, in your maturation as a writer where you realize, I need to stop bothering these people. It’s a lot of work to read other people’s writing and give them notes. And you don’t actually want notes, you want them to be like, “You nailed it, Brian. It was perfect.” Then, maybe they say, “This doesn’t work” and I would push back and they’d be like, “Why are you giving me this if you don’t want this?” [laughter] After almost a decade of bothering other people, I learned to do it myself. I don’t have an editor. With Saga, Fiona is the first human to read a script after myself. But when you ask how I know when it’s ready, when Fiona’s almost done with the last page of the previous issue, it’s ready. It’s time to let it go. ‘Cause if it weren’t for that, I would keep working on it forever. That is the beauty of serialized comics: It forces you to let go. The old [saying] that art is never finished, only abandoned is totally true. I’m so grateful because if I didn’t have monthly deadlines, if it weren’t for this endless treadmill of comics, I would still be working on my first comic script.
KS: Let’s finish off with some lightning round questions. An acceptable Plan B career if the writing thing had never worked out? Something where you could have been content, if not happy.
BKV: F—k. I was an auxiliary New York police officer after I graduated college, mostly just ‘cause I wanted to learn cool inside lingo that I could steal for my comics. But I would’ve been so terrible at it — I’m such a degenerate that I have much more in [common] with criminals than law enforcement. [laughter] I would’ve been just awful. I’ve had other jobs and I’m so bad at everything. I don’t know how to transfer calls, make copies… anything else other than this one highly specific thing. I would’ve been doomed.
KS: You’ve written comics, you’ve written TV, you had the various school and college projects. What’s a writing format you’ve never done professionally that you’d like to try at some point?
BKV: I love radio drama. For a while, that was one medium even deader than comics. Now with podcasts, I get offers all the time to do those things. I’d like to do of those before I die. Like every comic writer, I have my novel in me, but with each passing year, the novel sort of fades further and further away because I’m so happy doing comics. And there’s so many artists I haven’t worked with, or artists I have worked with and I’d like to do other things. It feels like I have so little time left before my liver gives out or whatever that I just wanna do more comics. That’s a long-winded way to say, radio drama, but don’t hold your breath to see one from me.
KS: I assume neither of us is old enough to have encountered radio drama in its prime. How did that medium enter your life?
BKV: There was this magazine, like an NPR/PBS sort of thing, that had these old Shadow cassette tapes with Orson Welles that I thought would be super cool to listen to. That family trip, I’m reading Watchmen until it gets too dark to read, then I would put on the Shadow tapes. The two were equally mind-blowing to me. I felt with both of them that I’m the final collaborator. Unlike film or television, I have to help out the radio drama, bring it to life in my mind, sort of make the moments happen. Both felt very welcoming to audience members.
KS: Writer’s block: myth or real?
BKV: Early on, I would always say to people, “Writer’s block is a myth, you’re just lazy.” I do recognize, being in my old age, that as kind of a neurotypical bias. I’m very lucky that I haven’t had that. It does seem to me that a lot of times when young writers say, “I have writer’s block,” what they’re saying is: “Writing is not easy or fun.” For me, writing has never been easy or fun; it’s always been a challenge. You know, it’s that Dorothy Parker thing, “I hate writing, I love having written.” Having written is so rewarding. I would much rather be watching a Cleveland Guardians game or clipping my nails or doing anything. But if you wanna get to the ‘having written’ part, you just have to do it. It’s usually gonna be a struggle. Most importantly, it’s the first draft. It’s allowed to be garbage, but having 10 pages of garbage, it’s so much easier to find a little nugget of goodness in there. So no, I don’t think it’s a myth, but it’s a surmountable challenge if you just sit there and force yourself to keep typing.
KS: Who’s a comic artist from any point in history, either retired or no longer with us, that you’d love to write one story for?
BKV: Alex Toth. [He’s] everything that I like about storytelling and economy of line and saying a lot with a little. Some of the most extraordinary comics I’ve ever seen. That would’ve been incredible to work with him.
KS: Like radio drama, Toth was mostly offstage before your time.
BKV: I’d probably seen a Zorro sketch or something, but it’s not until after college — after I was a professional probably — that I started really forcing myself to have more of a comics education and to expand my horizons. Guys like [David] Mazzucchelli… you just see how many other artists I love who came from Toth. So, definitely not a childhood favorite, someone who came to me later.
KS: The Saga letters page is known for being exclusively reachable via physical mail. How often do you personally mail things using a stamp?
BKV: Never! It’s insane. Who would possibly do that? I can’t believe anyone does that.
KS: A hobby of yours that gets you away from the computer, that has nothing to do with what you do for a living?
BKV: This is a problem, because my current addiction hobby is collecting original comic book art, which doesn’t fulfill your question. During the pandemic, there was that shortened baseball season. I’m not an athlete, I never liked sports, but I was absolutely losing my mind with anxiety and terror, so I watched this entire shortened baseball season. I watched every pitch of every then Cleveland Indians, now Cleveland Guardians game. It brings me great peace. It’s really hard to sit down and watch an hour-long drama, or even to read other comics. It feels like work. Weirdly, baseball has become my new non-comics hobby.
KS: You cited Watchmen before, so other than that, what’s a comic or graphic novel you’d hold up as an example of this medium at its peak?
BKV: I’m thinking about. When I started getting into artwork what’s some art I wanted to go get immediately. An Alison Bechdel Fun Home page. Reading it, I felt almost like Watchmen again, that leveling up of what the medium is capable of. So extraordinary and so outside my own experience, yet I’m drawn in, I’m living in this fully immersive story.
KS: To wrap up, please let readers know what you have out now and what’s still to come this year.
BKV: I have so little going on. If you’re a fan of my work, you’ve got it easy now. [laughter] For Saga, October brings our tenth collection in 10 years, and then we’ll be returning in January. Then, we’ll be back with another six issues next year. Then, Nico Henrichon — my Pride of Baghdad collaborator — and I are doing our longest graphic novel yet: a ghost story called Spectators, extraordinarily graphic in terms of sex and violence. It’s gotta be over 300 pages long. It’ll be in print eventually, I hope, unless it’s just so pornographically filthy that we can’t find a publisher. If you don’t wanna wait to see whether or not it’ll be in print, you can follow along with us as we create this book in real time, two to three full color pages every week. That is being released through our Substack, Exploding Giraffe — named in honor of a moment from Pride of Baghdad years ago. If you just want the comic, that’s free. If you want more goodies and you want to help subsidize the creation of this book, you’re welcome to subscribe. We appreciate it, but it’s not required.
In the background [there’s] Panel Syndicate, which is the site I created with Marcos Martin — in reality, Marcos did all of the heavy lifting. I’m eager to return there someday, but while I’m not putting out any new work there, Private Eye, Barrier, and the Walking Dead story Marcus and I did are all up there, 100% free to read. If you want to throw us some coins, you’re welcome to do that, as well. I have some annoyingly secret film and TV things in the background, but they’re my side hustle. Saga and Spectators are most of my life, and I am so slow in my old age that it’s troubling how long it takes me to write those two things.