Thursday, November 22, 2012

Two Sagas of Cosmic Dimensions

It’s the season for sagas! Fantasy meets sci-fi in a new collection from Brian K. Vaughan and in an animated Kickstarter campaign from Québécois illustrator Michel Gagné.

Fantasy is a genre I don’t usually gravitate to. I told that to the helpful attendant at Labyrinth Comics when he suggested I check out the latest work by Brian K. Vaughan: Saga. He said he wasn’t a big fan of fantasy either, but that the book had him hooked. Vaughan is an incredible writer (yes, he made me cry at the end of Pride of Baghdad) so I’d follow him through some fairies and gnomes. Turns out, Saga is fantasy meets sci-fi, with a bit of space political intrigue thrown in to keep things intergalactic.

The protagonists are a couple of lovers from different planets who have a baby and are now the target of a relentless hunt from both sides. It’s as if Romeo and Juliet had a baby, and now the Capulets and Montagues were after them with a vengeance. Oh, and the baby narrates the story. From the future, I suppose. There’s magic and rocket ships, robot princes, a flying tree, nudity, a disemboweled ghost and a lying cat (which might be a reference to Joann Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat.) Fiona Staples’s art serves the story well and her coloring palette really pops.

The relationship between the horned father and winged mother of the baby anchors the plot with realness and the scale of the story points at much bigger repercussions from their union - it’s supposed to be a saga after all. A departure from what I came to expect from Vaughan, but in a good way. The first 6 issues were just collected by Image Comics.

The other saga in the works is Canadian artist Michel Gagné’s The Saga of Rex. His plan is to produce a short animated film inspired by a book he originally self-published in 1998 and based on a series of stories published in the now-defunct, whimsical comics anthology series Flight (and collected in a 2010 graphic novel). Rex is a cute little fox who is abducted to another planet with a colorful cast of characters - a mix of sci-fi and fantasy, much like K. Vaughan’s Saga. Gagné calls it a “cosmic love story” and he will be able to produce it thanks to his successful (and engaging) Kickstarter campaign, which raised enough to produce a 4-minute short film plus a theatrical trailer.

Gagné is a renowned illustrator and animator who has worked for all the big studios but has lately been dedicating himself more to personal and independent projects. On his campaign page, Gagné says that “The Saga of Rex is labor of love that reflects my deep love for science fiction, strange creatures, otherwordly concepts, and classical animation.” This saga is only beginning.


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