Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples
The London Graphic Novel Network heads off into outer space! Only instead of having fun with spaceships and ray-guns they get all embroiled with class and genre and the worst Wolverine picture of all time. Typical. Questions raised include: Should you try and separate books from their context? What’s the best way to play the fatherhood game? And what does it mean to say that something doesn’t have a story?
Space flunky, four on the floor
Fortified with the liquor store
This one’s down, gimme some more
Gimme toro – gimme some more
Gimme toro – gimme some more
Gimme toro – GIMME SOME MORE!
And yeah yeah – I get how we don’t have to choose between dualities and that the world is a big enough place that the we can all have the things that we love and get along like one big happy family: but – man: in the current climate mentioned above where it seems like most comic’s main ambition is to be a buttoned-down and middle-brown as possible: it’s such a euphoric relief (like getting a blast of sunshine during a year when all you thought you were due was dull rainy grey) to have a comic that manically rushes along from one outlandish image to an even-more outlandish image to omg – that’s amazing.
Hmm, I’m frowning here, and I don’t need that from this
Weeeell, I’d say it’s more complicated than that.
Now let’s talk about SAGA!
That it’s narrated by the older Hazel would normally annoy me because you know the babies safe no matter what but I was more invested in the other characters whose fates were question marks.
They never ring false to me as characters or as a couple. Their atypical character dynamics is a nice counterpoint to the one in the cheesy romance book that bought them together.
Also note that this is a thread to talk about books and my avatar is Alana recommending a good book.
For now I will just comment on this one part.
That it’s narrated by the older Hazel would normally annoy me because you know the baby’s safe no matter what but I was more invested in the other characters whose fates were question marks.I thought this was quite clever, and that Izabel might have been the key here. As she knew (knows) Alana and Marko, even if they were killed and the baby (Hazel) sent to some horrible prison camp (I am David?), Izabel could come out every night and comfort and protect Hazel. Thus the narrative from Hazel is still possible even if Alana and Marko ARE killed. I can’t say it added a LOT of tension as, SPOILER despite what Joel told us, I still assumed Brian Vaughn wouldn’t kill off his protagonists.
Also are Marco and Alana literally superhuman? or making liberal use of magic? because if you really peek behind the scenes, is Alana running through the sewers WHILE doing(?) the afterbirth? or did that happen before the fight scene. I think if you wanted to be picky it is quite ridiculous to have someone trekking through the forest for three days solid straight after giving birth. On the other hand, we did cover a paragraph in history of a woman herding cows all day before the birth, and the very next day, back out herding cows with the baby on her back.
So I can’t decide: is stuff happening between the scenes (yes), is Alana really quite tough, but no more so than us, are they using a lot of magic or is Alana superhuman compared to us?
A further point that struck me in this first book. Izabel is young women with several younger siblings and parents who were off busy fighting the war. This would suggest Izabel spent a lot of time bringing up her siblings (i.e. she knows exactly how to burp Hazel). How come someone who has brought up 7 children by the time she is a young women, know so much. “I think they preferred freedom fighters”, that recognition of the terrorist/freedom fighter dichotomy requires some education/schooling. In a war zone, who from? I’m quite curious to see if more will turn up about Izabel.
A D Jameson website
At the risk of seeming like a horrible person, if you want to read even more by me in addition to the links Joel kindly sent, here’s something I did on the X-Men:
Also, I drew a picture of Wolverine once. It’s here:
Barbican Comic Forum
Welcome to the network Adam. That’s a nice picture of Wolverine btw.
Regarding your exposure to Saga; you weren’t reading it right. This series definitely has something worth deciding to commit to. Especially when you get into the later volumes.
Picking up on a point that Christine made, I’d be tempted to think that Alana’s people may be “super”human based on how Alana is able to get up and go right after giving birth in the first few pages. However, I’d suppress that thought by remembering that;
1) I’ve zero experience of how quickly a woman can do things right after childbirth and
2) Alana (and Marko) aren’t humans. So can’t we suspend our potential disbelief of the exaggerations of some of the more relatable aspects of the story (i.e. childbirth) with this in mind?
Given that this is only Volume one that we’re discussing, is it necessarily bad if we conclude that there’s no real story here? If one were to read the Volume as effectively scene-setting for the whole saga, then what kind of reading do we make of it?
I’ve been drafting this in my head like hundred times over and over (and boy in my head – I’ve gotta say it all sounds really smart and cogent and insightful and all the rest of it: but then saying words to yourself in your head is easy – actually typing them down into emailness is much more difficult): but what the hey right?
Although – that’s a good image of what I think the London Graphic Novel Network should be about (if anything): Batman and the Joker and Poison Ivy and the Penguin and Bane and Catwoman and Ra’s al Ghul and Talia al Ghul and all the rest of them sitting around and talking about comics and sharing their ideas about stuff.
Barbican Comic Forum
I’m tempted to go back to Joel’s earlier assertion that he aims to leave the world a better place than he found it. The only way I see it happening is if he writes that suggested ‘1984 Redux’ version – where poor Winston Smith is tortured into denouncing Truth, Mathematics & Ramona Flowers…
(Back to the Main Event)
Its already been mentioned that Saga is a great looking comic. Its won all the critical plaudits going, but its super accessible for new readers too, and I think the art has a lot to do with that. Whoever mentioned the Alice In Wonderland-angle is definitely onto something, it seems very immediate and relatable, despite its obvious eccentricities.
Sure, its beautiful to look at (which helps [cue argument about the philosophy of aesthetics]), but the consistency of the visuals really helps contribute to keeping the more exotic/ ostentatious/ “out there, man” elements bound together. The story is a curious mix of fairy tale (someone mentioned the Princess Bride?) and sci-fi/ space opera, and I think the artwork reflects that. (NB I know nothing about art, so I’ll leave it to someone else it comment more knowledgably on this. Although it wouldn’t be the LGNN if we didn’t allow people to have free reign on subjects they know NOTHING about…)
Does anyone else feel that a discussion of a space opera of this sort (packed full of lovingly rendered characters, loyal pets, robot families, and oh-so-many domestic concerns) wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Halo Jones…? I’m reminded of it, but its just too damn late in the day for me to bother working out how…
… Helpfully, I’m sure Joel has an opinion on the subject… (*smiley winky sarcastic emojii*)
Also, even though I happily suspended disbelief, I also kind of want to know. CAN you really go on the lam with a tiny new-born baby? So re my question earlier about walking for three days, I asked a nurse at work who had worked in South Africa, and yes, there woman would regularly walk far enough to get blisters on their feet, give birth, then be shunted out to walk home. So I guess Alana is ‘only’ normally tough and not superhumanly tough.
I don’t have Saga in front of me so I’m limited to the things I remember, and I just remembered a good joke.
So Saga is fantasy, with all kinds of weird stuff, like ghosts with their intestines hanging out that we can quickly accept as cool characters.
Yet when Marko woke up out of his coma, he was all ‘AARGH what the hell is that!’
Also the pictures included here are such fun, the part about ‘cuhhing thu mbilical?’ is really funny (you are WEARING a sword, neat segue into the vow), and it’s a pity (albeit topical) to include the bit about Marko saying ‘no more barbaric religious nonsense!’ without including Alana’s look: ‘it’s not religious it’s cultural’.
So I would go on to point out that this series is such enormous fun. Not just well written, fast pace, lots happening, but really fun.
Ok. So yes – Saga. Let’s talk about Saga.
Barbican Comic Forum
But since fatherhood transpires to be such key theme it turns out Saga is not so out-there after all! On with the marigolds and back to the kitchen sink (which Malcolm also mentioned) – hooray!
First, I notice there is a shortage of midwives on this planet, too. Also, this couple were not reached by antenatal services and we need to look at why they were excluded: not to pick up Hazel’s horns on a scan – no wonder the birth was so uncomfortable! However, the horns act to bring us in on the guy being the biological as well as the social father.
I like the way our heroes are trying to forge their own parenting together, breaking swords and the bloke admiring the foyer decoration – I am on for all of this. However, I notice a couple of things heading in a potentially less progressive direction:-
We are given the breakdown of time the father holds Hazel compared with the mother– although breastfeeding is clearly an element at Hazel’s stage, this could set a pattern impacting on which parent returns to full-time employment after SPL (Shared Parental Leave).
- characterising all dads who have ever existed so far as losers is an artificially low bar to raising the fatherhood game today and
- why are we even so sure that raising the fatherhood game is necessary, given that privileging caring over earning sits within a wider pattern of gendered measurements of parental involvement?
- The irony is that the growing acknowledgement that dads of the past were more closely involved than is commonly now supposed, and not just in earning, is not to rehabilitate patriarchy – it actually contests it.
- Yet more strange is that some progressives really hate this idea. They hold to the need to undermine Patriarchy as the rationale for parenting being the property of women. But this is called Matriarchy – simply another form of social conservatism.
Lastly, turning to this point made at the beginning of the thread, “Of course the fact that it’s about fatherhood is maybe a bit of a black mark against Saga’s PC/right-on credentials”, well, I reckon this is true only to the extent fatherhood is understood as a gendered term carrying the baggage of patriarchy, rather than as the observation of parenting by men… and this guy is really getting stuck in on his own terms – but has he bitten off more than he can chew?