Saga (comic book)
Cover art for Saga #1 (March 2012).
Art by Fiona Staples.
|Genre||Epic Space opera/fantasy|
|Publication date||March 2012 to present|
|Number of issues||38|
Prince Robot IV
|Writer(s)||Brian K. Vaughan|
|Creator(s)||Brian K. Vaughan and
|SC vol 1 (#1–6)||ISBN 1607066017|
|SC vol 2 (#7–12)||ISBN 1607066920|
|SC vol 3 (#13–18)||ISBN 1607069318|
|SC vol 4 (#19–24)||ISBN 1632150778|
|SC vol 5 (#25–30)||ISBN 1632154382|
|SC vol 6 (#31–36)||ISBN 163215711X|
|HC Vol 1 (#1–18)||ISBN 1632150786|
Saga is an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, published monthly by the American company Image Comics. The series is heavily influenced by Star Wars and is based on ideas Vaughan conceived both as a child and as a parent. It depicts a husband and wife, Alana and Marko, from long-warring extraterrestrial races, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their daughter, Hazel, who is born in the beginning of the series and who occasionally narrates the series as an unseen adult.
The comic was described in solicitations as "Star Wars meets Game of Thrones," and by critics as evocative of both science fiction and fantasy epics such as The Lord of the Rings and classic works like Romeo & Juliet. It is Vaughan's first creator-owned work to be published through Image Comics, and represents the first time he employs narration in his comics writing.
The first issue of Saga was published on March 14, 2012, to positive reviews and a sold-out first printing. It was published in trade paperback form in October 2012. It has also been a consistent sales success, with its collected editions outselling those of The Walking Dead, another successful Image comic.
The series has been met with wide critical acclaim, and is one of the most celebrated comics being published. It has also garnered numerous awards, including a number of Eisner and Harvey Awards in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The first trade paperback collection won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. It has also been noted for its diverse portrayal of ethnicity, sexuality and gender social roles, and for its treatment of war.
Writer Brian K. Vaughan conceived Saga in his childhood, calling it "a fictional universe that I created when I was bored in math class. I just kept building it." He was inspired by such influences as Star Wars, Flash Gordon and children's books, and has also invoked the awe and wonder of first seeing the Silver Surfer, which seemed an "incredible and different" concept to him. It was not until his wife became pregnant with his second daughter, however, that he conceived of the protagonists, the winged Alana and the horned Marko, two lovers from warring extraterrestrial races who struggle to survive with their newborn daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series. It was also at this point that the central theme that Vaughan wanted for the book emerged. Vaughan explains, "I wanted to write about parenthood, but I wanted to Trojan-horse it inside some sort of interesting genre story, to explore the overlap between artistic creation and the creation of a child." Vaughan, who intended to return to writing a comics series following the 2010 conclusion of his previous series, Ex Machina, and who notes that the publication of Saga #1 coincided with the birth of his daughter, saw parallels between the caution advised by colleagues against launching a new book in the poor economy and those who cautioned against bringing a new child into the world, observing:
I realized that making comics and making babies were kind of the same thing and if I could combine the two, it would be less boring if I set it in a crazy sci-fi fantasy universe and not just have anecdotes about diaper bags ... I didn’t want to tell a Star Wars adventure with these noble heroes fighting an empire. These are people on the outskirts of the story who want out of this never-ending galactic war ... I’m part of the generation that all we do is complain about the prequels and how they let us down ... And if every one of us who complained about how the prequels didn’t live up to our expectations just would make our own sci-fi fantasy, then it would be a much better use of our time.
Vaughan explained that the main characters' romance would be a major theme of the book. Touching upon the juxtaposition of the book's mature subject matter with its Star Wars inspirations, Vaughan jokingly described the book as "Star Wars for perverts."
The book was announced at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International, and was billed as "Star Wars meets A Game of Thrones" in solicitations. Saga represents the first time Vaughan has employed narration in his comics writing, a decision influenced by the whimsical interaction between the text and images in the children's books he reads with his children, and by his desire to try something new that he felt would work well with Saga's narrator, Hazel. It is also his first series to be published through Image Comics, whom he selected as the series' publisher on the recommendation of writer Jay Faerber, who cited the creative freedom afforded by that publisher. Vaughan elaborated on his selection of Image thus:
I love all the other companies I've worked with, but I think Image might be the only publisher left that can still offer a contract I would consider "fully creator-owned." Saga is a really important story to me, so I wanted a guarantee of no content restrictions or other creative interference, and I needed to maintain 100% control and ownership of all non-publishing rights with the artist, including the right to never have our comic turned into a movie or television show or whatever ... [Image Publisher] Eric Stephenson was the only publisher I spoke with who was thrilled to make that deal, and co-creator Fiona Staples and I didn't have to sign exclusives or agree to work on a bunch of corporate-owned titles to get it.
Although Vaughan has written for television, and has endeavored to have his previous works adapted into film, he stresses that he developed Saga strictly to be a comic book and not to be adapted to other media, explaining "I wanted to do something that was way too expensive to be TV and too dirty and grown-up to be a four-quadrant blockbuster." Vaughan has also indicated that he has an ending in mind for the series and that he plans five issues ahead, having written the first six issues as the first story arc, which would have ended with the two main characters dying on the rocketship launch pad in issue 5 if the series had not been successful. By June 2016, Vaughan indicated that he knew what the last page of the series' final issue would be.
The series is illustrated by Fiona Staples, who was introduced to Vaughan by their mutual friend, writer Steve Niles, with whom Staples worked on Mystery Society. Vaughan, who did not meet Staples in person until just before their panel at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, explained his selection of Staples by describing his reaction upon first seeing her work, saying "Her artwork is incredible. [It] doesn't look like anyone else. She is very unique. When I opened up this file I was like, 'This is going to work!'" Staples is co-owner of Saga and was given first billing on the cover of issue 31. In addition to designing all the characters, vehicles and alien races in the story, she provides painted covers and hand-letters Hazel's narration using her own handwriting, which is the last thing she does after finishing the artwork on a page. Staples renders the characters in a pen-and-ink style line while using all-color settings inspired by video games and Japanese animation. At the 2012 Image Expo, Staples described the process by which she produces her art as harkening back to animation cels, in which emphasis is placed on figures and backgrounds. Vaughan has stated that Staple's style has influenced the direction of the story. The character Ghüs, for example is entirely Staples' creation. Another example is the organic forms of most of the series' technology, such as the main characters' wooden rocket ship, which is derived from Staples' dislike of drawing mechanical objects. To design the series' various planetary settings, Staples looks to the real world for inspiration and then exaggerates some elements of them. Some rooms on the planet Cleave, for example, were inspired by Cambodian architecture.
The book is priced at $2.99 and will remain at that price for the duration of its run, which Vaughan arranged as part of his contract with Image along with the stipulation that it never be less than 22 pages long. The first issue features 44 pages of story and no advertisements in both its print and digital versions. At the end of each issue is an old-fashioned letters column called "To Be Continued" which prints readers letters submitted entirely through postal mail as it does not provide an email address for this purpose. Vaughan usually handles the column himself, including responding to letters.
The book's release was celebrated with a launch party at Los Angeles' Meltdown Comics which featured a public conversation with Vaughan's former colleague, Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof, who had hired Vaughan as a writer/producer on that series in 2007. Vaughan also promoted the book by appearing at signings at Midtown Comics in Manhattan and Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn during the week of the first issue's release.
After the publication of issue 6 in August 2012, Vaughan announced that the series would take a two-month hiatus, after which the first six-issue story arc was published in trade paperback form in October for $9.99 before the series' return in November, a practice that Vaughan and Staples would continue after each successive story arc and trade paperback publication. That same month, Vaughan and Staples promoted the series by appearing together at the 2012 New York Comic Con, their first appearance together since the series' debut. Some retailers refused to display the trade paperback because its cover (a reuse of the first issue's cover) depicts Alana breastfeeding Hazel.
In December 2014, Image published Saga Deluxe Edition Volume 1, a hardcover volume collecting the first 18 issues of the series, which comprise its first three story arcs. Because Vaughn sees Saga as a story about Hazel, he and Staples decided to have each new hardcover volume feature an original image of that character at a different stage of her life. Because the first volume covers her birth and infancy, its cover features a closeup of Hazel nursing from her mother's breast, set against the backdrop of Landfall and Wreath, which recalls the first issue's cover. Eric Stephenson warned Vaughn and Staples that some retailers and distributors would object to this cover image, thus limiting the series' audience, but after seeing Staples' rendition of the image, Stephenson decided that sales would not be a problem.
Each issue of Saga is titled with a numerical Chapter, such as "Chapter 1" for the debut issue. Every six chapters comprise a story arc designated as a "Volume" and are reprinted as trade paperbacks. Every three Volumes comprise a "Book" and are collected as hardcover editions.
The opening Volume introduces the series' leads, Alana and Marko, two lovers from different worlds whose people are at war with one another. Alana comes from the technologically advanced Landfall Coalition, so named after Landfall, the largest planet in the galaxy, and Marko is from Wreath, Landfall's only satellite, whose people wield magic. Because the destruction of one of the worlds would send the other spinning out of orbit, the war was "outsourced" to other worlds. Although peace was restored on the two home worlds, the conflict spread across all the other known planets, whose native species were forced to choose a side. As Landfall and Wreath were on opposite sides, Alana and Marko met when she was assigned to guard him in a prison on the planet Cleave after he became a prisoner of war. They escaped together twelve hours after meeting. In the beginning of the series' first issue, Alana gives birth to their daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series. Their respective peoples are incredulous when it is suggested that they have voluntarily mated and they are pursued by both the Wreathers and the Landfallians, both because of the perceived betrayal of the two fugitives and to prevent knowledge of their pairing from spreading and damaging morale among their troops. On Landfall, Prince Robot IV is assigned by his father to capture him and comes into conflict with his counterpart from Wreath, a mercenary named The Will. The ghost of a dead girl named Izabel is bonded to Hazel and the four of them escape Cleave before being joined by Marko's parents.
In the second Volume, more is revealed about Marko's parents and his upbringing and his initial time with Alana. Marko's ex-fiancée, Gwendolyn, joins The Will's hunt as does a six-year-old sex slave rescued by The Will and Gwendolyn who takes the name Sophie. The family later takes refuge at the home of writer D. Oswald Heist (the author of Alana's favorite novel), where they first come into contact with Prince Robot IV.
The third Voume, beginning in August 2013, which Vaughan intended as a "big tonal shift", introduces the tabloid journalists Upsher and Doff, as they pursue their own investigation of Alana and Marko, who take refuge at the lighthouse home of author D. Oswald Heist. There, the family first comes into direct contact with, and manages to escape from, Prince Robot IV and Gwendolyn. By the end of the story, Hazel has begun to walk.
The fourth Volume, which begins Book Two, establishes the family living on the planet Gardenia, with Alana acting in an underground entertainment program called the Open Circuit in which all the actors wear masks. Hazel is now speaking in simple phrases, while Prince Robot IV's son is born. A disgruntled robot janitor, Dengo, kills Prince Robot IV's wife, kidnaps his infant son and journeys to Gardenia, where he kidnaps the family. Marko and Prince Robot IV team up to pursue them. Meanwhile, The Will's sister, The Brand, teams with Gwendolyn and Sophie to acquire an elixir to heal The Will's injuries.
The fifth Volume begins three months later. The family's rocketship has set down in a frozen region of a planet, where Dengo meets with revolutionaries who wish to use Hazel as a pawn in their campaign against Landfall and Wreath. Meanwhile, as Marko and Prince Robot IV struggle to maintain their alliance while in pursuit of their kidnapped loved ones, Alana and Yuma both deal with the consequences of their use of the drug Fadeway. By end of the arc, Dengo has turned on the revolutionaries, but is himself killed by Prince Robot IV, who is united with his son. Marko and Alana are reunited, but Hazel and Klara are relegated to a Landfallian prison.
In the sixth Volume, Alana and Marko search for their loved ones who remain incarcerated in a detention center on Landfall. Upsher and Doff resume their investigation of the couple after hearing about The Brand's death. The journalists, however, are confronted by The Will, who has resumed his vendetta against Robot IV–now called Sir Robot IV–who is now raising his rapidly growing son, Squire. New characters introduced include Hazel's sympathetic schoolteacher Noreen and a transgender female prisoner, Petrichor. The arc closes with Hazel successfully reunited with her parents and the revelation that Alana is once again pregnant.
The seventh Volume—"The War for Phang"—began with issue 37 and was released on August 31, 2016. It is the beginning of Book Three of the series, and as indicated by its title, Sophie's home, the comet Phang, will be a central setting. The family deals with the addition of Petrichor to the reunited family, and Alana's second pregnancy.
- Alana - The female lead of the series, Alana is Marko's wife and Hazel's mother. She is a native of the planet Landfall, and like all Landfallians she has wings, although her wings do not allow her to fly until issue #18. After joining her planet's war against the Wreathers (one issue says she was drafted after flunking out of state college while another says that she joined the military a few months after her father remarried Alana's childhood friend, Even), she was subsequently reprimanded for "abject cowardice" for hesitating to kill civilians and was redeployed to the planet Cleave, where as a prison guard she met Marko. She developed a friendship with him and when she learned he was to be transferred to a more brutal prison from which detainees never return, she helped him escape - just twelve hours after having met him. She later married him and gave birth to their daughter, Hazel, in the series' first issue.
- Marko - The male lead of the series, Marko is Alana's husband and Hazel's father. He is from the Landfall's moon Wreath, whose people have horns or antlers and can wield magic. Marko was a foot soldier in his people's war against the Coalition of Landfall. Marko was raised since a young age with the knowledge of the atrocities that Landfall committed against their people. When Marko left Wreath as an adult, he was still "a gung-ho kid who just wanted to do [his] moon proud and kick some ass." This changed the first time he saw battle, after which he began to develop a less militant and more pacifist outlook. When he tried to share these misgivings with his fiancée Gwen, he realized from her unsympathetic and jingoistic responses that they had grown too far apart to continue their relationship. Marko surrendered to Coalition forces as a "conscientious objector" 18 months before the beginning of the series. He was a prisoner of war on the planet Cleave until his guard, Alana, escaped with him, married him and conceived their daughter, Hazel. Wreath High Command sent The Will after Marko because Marko "renounced his oath and betrayed The Narrative" by fraternizing with an enemy combatant. Though he is a pacifist who vows upon the birth of his daughter to never again to use his sword, and dislikes the practice of owning firearms, he does so nonetheless when his family is threatened and is so skilled with a sword that he can dispatch an entire squad of enemy soldiers armed with firearms, for which he is referred to by Prince Robot IV as a "force of nature".
- Hazel - The daughter of the two lead characters, born in the first issue, who occasionally narrates the series. She has wings like her mother, horns like her father, and green-brown eyes unlike that of either of her parents. She spends most of her childhood growing up in the organic tree-like rocketship with which she and her parents escape Cleave. She is seen taking her first steps at the end of the third story arc, and is speaking in simple phrases by the beginning of the fourth. She celebrates her fourth birthday in the sixth story arc, during a part of her life when she and her grandmother are being held in a Landfallian detention center.
- Izabel - Izabel is the ghost of a teenage girl from the planet Cleave who was killed by a landmine. She manifests as a reddish torso with her intestines hanging out from under the hem of her T-shirt. She comes from a family of resistance fighters who built tunnels to escape people who invaded Cleave. She makes a deal with Alana to save Marko's life in exchange for being taken with them when they leave the planet, but to do so has to bond her soul to Hazel's. Although Alana is initially reluctant to allow this, she finally relents and soon comes to appreciate Izabel's presence since she can act as a "babysitter" at night and allow Alana and Marko to rest. She has the ability to create realistic illusions with which she can disguise her appearance, although these do not work on machines such as the Robots.
- Klara - Marko's mother, who first appears with Marko's father at the end of issue #6. Her mother died in an incident at Langencamp at the hands of Landfallians, and thus Klara is less accepting of Marko and Alana's relationship. Brian K. Vaughan, when asked which character was his favorite, stated that Klara was the easiest to write.
The family's pursuers
- Prince Robot IV - A member of the royal family of the Robot Kingdom, assigned by Landfall as their primary pursuer of Alana and Marko in the beginning of the series when his wife is pregnant with their first child. Like others of his race, he is a humanoid with a small television set for a head, which Vaughan explains is influenced by a fascination with old televisions that he developed when he began writing for TV. He also has blue blood and the ability to morph his right arm into a cannon. In the beginning of the series, Prince Robot IV has just returned from a "two–year tour of hell" after which he had to be given a new leg following a brutal sneak attack. His brain "reboots" after he is injured confronting the family in the third story arc and is still missing when his son is born in the fourth story arc.
- The Will - One of the freelance bounty hunters hired by the Wreath High Command to kill Marko and Alana and bring Hazel back alive, not only for Marko's betrayal but also to prevent news of Alana and Marko's coupling from spreading and thus threatening troop morale. The Will is accompanied by a Lying Cat, a large talking feline that can detect lies. Vez, the woman who hires him, says she hired The Will because he shares Marko's moral relativism. When he travels to the sexually permissive planet Sextillion and is presented with a six-year-old sexual slave girl, The Will kills her pimp. The Will was once the lover of The Stalk, a female spider-like bounty hunter who is also assigned to Alana and Marko until she is killed by Prince Robot IV, for which The Will vows revenge. He develops an attraction to Gwendolyn even as he mourns The Stalk. His sister Sophie, who addresses him "Billy" and who introduced him to The Stalk, is another Freelancer who works under the name The Brand. In the third story arc, he decides to abandon his Freelancer life but suffers a near-fatal injury. Although his life is saved at a hospital, it is said that he will likely never fully recover from the trauma.
- Lying Cat - Lying Cat is a large female talking feline companion to The Will who aids him in his work. Green in color and with yellow stripes, she has the ability to detect when a verbal statement is a lie, which she indicates by saying "Lying". Her power is limited to the state of the mind of the person speaking: she can detect deliberate deception, but cannot detect a falsehood if a given statement is believed to be true by the speaker. According to Izabel, Lying Cats always play by the rules, an allusion to the fact that a Lying Cat must also admit ethical truths as well as factual ones. When Gwendolyn, who becomes Lying Cat's ally, accidentally kills a man, Izabel says that they had no right to execute that man in his home, which Lying Cat could not deny. It has been revealed that Lying Cat was the runt of her seven-kitten litter, which has caused her distress.
- Sophie - A six-and-a-half-year-old former sex slave, initially known only as Slave Girl, that The Will discovers on the pleasure planet Sextillion. He and Gwendolyn rescue her, after which the girl reveals she possesses the power of psychometry, with which she helps The Will track Marko and Alana. The Will decides to name her Sophie in issue #13, which is the same name as his sister. Vaughan has stated that Sophie, whose first appearance Staples initially refused to draw, was created to illustrate the horrific effects of war and as a critique of the sexualized portrayal of Princess Leia as Jabba the Hutt's slave in the film Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, explaining "That's that character at her least sexy. There are slave girls in the world and they don't look like Princess Leia in a bikini."
- Gwendolyn - Marko's former fiancée, who joins The Will's pursuit of the family. Gwendolyn first appears at the end of issue #8, having been assigned by the Secretary General of Wreath High Command to check on The Will and helps him rescue Slave Girl from Sextillion in order to spur him to complete his mission. Marko and Alana's wedding rings, which also function as translator devices, were originally those of Gwendolyn's grandparents, who had the rings enchanted with a translator spell because they spoke two different dialects of Wreath's native language. She wears her grandparents' translation pendant around her neck, which were forged with the rings as part of the same set. She resists The Will's advances, though she reveals she loves him while attempting get medical attention for him after he suffers a near-fatal injury.
- Upsher and Doff - Upsher and Doff are a tabloid journalist and photographer, respectively, from the planet Jetsam, who work for a tabloid called The Hebdomadal, and who are also lovers. First appearing in issue #13, their speech, like all people from Jetsam, is rendered in the form of blue text surrounded by speech balloons that more closely resemble traditional comics thought bubbles. Jetsam is a partially underwater society, as its natives possess an amphibious physiology, and are capable of surviving in and out of water. Upsher and Doff experience more than one confrontation with Freelancers hired to put an end to their investigation. The Brand poisons them with embargon, a substance that will kill them if they report their findings about the family to anyone else, though they attempt to find a way around this in order to continue their investigation. After they learn The Brand is dead, they attempt to resume their investigation, but are confronted by The Will, who drafts them into his service.
Sales and reprints
The first issue sold out of its first printing ahead of its March 14 release date. A second printing ordered for April 11, the same release date as issue #2, also sold out, with a third printing arriving in stores on April 25. The issue ultimately went through five printings. By August it had sold over 70,000 copies in various printings. As of 2016, the collected editions of the series outsell those of The Walking Dead, another successful Image comic that has greater public visibility through the television series adapted from it.
The first trade paperback collection, Saga, Vol. 1, which collects the first six issues, was published October 10, 2012, and appeared at Number 6 on the New York Times Graphic Books Best Seller list the week of October 29. As of August 2013, it had sold 120,000 copies.
Although issue #7 sold out, Image Comics PR & Marketing Director Jennifer deGuzman announced in a December 12, 2012 letter to retailers that it would not reprint select comics, such as that issue. DeGuzman explained the move as a result of decreasing orders on well-performing titles like Saga, despite critical acclaim and consistently selling out at a distributor level, and pointed to orders on Saga #8, which decreased 4% from orders on issue #7. Rather than invest in second printings, deGuzman explained, Image would instead focus its attention on ensuring that the first printing garners the sales desired. This move displeased some retailers, which prompted Image Publisher Eric Stephenson to announce the following day that Image would indeed publish a second printing of issue #7 at a considerable discount, but cautioned that the publisher would not be able to reprint every issue of the series indefinitely, and implored retailers not to under-order the series.
The second trade paperback collection immediately appeared at the top of the New York Times graphic books best-seller list.
The series was met with wide critical acclaim and is one of the most celebrated comics being published. It holds an average score of 9.0 out of 10 at the review aggregator website Comic Book Roundup. This score is held by both the regular series and the collected volumes.
The first issue was widely acclaimed in publications such as Publishers Weekly, MTV, Ain't it Cool News, Complex magazine, Comic Book Resources, iFanboy and ComicsAlliance; they all praised Vaughan's ability to incorporate elements of different genres, establishing the vast setting and mythology, and introducing characters that engaged the reader. Multiple reviewers likened the book to a combination of sci-fi/fantasy works such as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings and classic works of literature such as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and the New Testament. AICN singled-out the use of the newborn Hazel as a lone individual to chronicle large-scale events from a past perspective, and Alex Zalben of MTV Geek remarking that he could hear a John Williams score as he read the book. Multiple reviewers also lauded Vaughan for beginning the story with Hazel's birth rather than hurting the story's pace with copious exposition of Alana and Marko's initial meeting and courtship. Todd Allen of The Beat approved of the book's unique "flavor", singling out the characters' motivations, the immersiveness of its surrealist setting, the strangeness of the story's various oddities and the timely nature of the story's political undertones. Both Alex Evans of Weekly Comic Book Review and P. S. Hayes of Geeks of Doom called the series a "classic"; Hayes also praised Image Comics for publishing such an "original" series. Also widely praised was Fiona Staples' artwork, which was characterized as "glorious", with Zalben predicting that readers would "fall head over heels in love" with it, and Greg McElhatton of Comic Book Resources positively comparing it to that of Leinil Francis Yu, specifically her use of delicate lines to frame characters with large, bold figures and Staples' mixture of the familiar and the foreign together in her character designs to create a visually cohesive universe. AICN singled out Staples' handling of grand, sweeping space shots and other genre trappings, as well as her mastery of facial expressions - which AICN felt was perfectly suited to Vaughan's subtle dialogue. Todd Allen of The Beat wrote that Staples' landscapes at times play as much a part in the story as the foreground.
The subsequent issues that made up the series' initial six-issue story arc also garnered similarly positive reviews, with three printings ordered for issue #2, and second printings ordered for issues 3 - 6. The series was included in IGN's 2012 list of "The Comics We're Thankful For This Year" and took the #1 spot in CBR's "Top 10 Comics of 2012". In August 2013, Douglas Wolk of Time magazine referred to the series as a "breakout hit", calling it "mischievous, vulgar and gloriously inventive."
Joseph McCabe of The Nerdist included the hardcover Saga Deluxe Edition Volume 1 in their Top 5 Comic Reprint Collections of 2014. That same year, Laura Sneddon of the British Science Fiction Association's journal Vector listed Saga among her list of six groundbreaking science fiction comics.
Saga won the three Eisner Awards it was nominated for in 2013: Best Continuing Series, Best New Series and Best Writer. The Vol. 1 trade paperback won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. The series was nominated for seven 2013 Harvey Awards and won six of those: Best Writer, Best Artist, Best Color, Best New Series, Best Continuing or Limited Series, and Best Single Issue or Story.
In 2014 the series won three Eisners: Best Painter/Multimedia Artist, Best Writer, and Best Continuing Series. In 2015 the series was again nominated for the same three Eisner awards it won the previous year and won two of them: Best Continuing Series and Best Penciller/Inker.
On April 9, 2013, media reported that Apple Inc. had prohibited the sale of issue 12 of Saga through iOS, because two panels that depicted oral sex between men in a small, in-set image violated Apple's restrictions on sexual content. This resulted in criticism by artists and writers, who pointed to similarly explicit content in previous issues and in other works sold through iTunes. William Gibson and others suggested that the restriction could have occurred specifically because the drawings in question depicted gay sex. A day later, digital distributor Comixology announced that it had been they, not Apple, who had chosen not to make the issue available based on their interpretation of Apple's rules, and that after receiving clarification from Apple, the issue would now be sold via iOS.
In 2014, the series was included on the American Library Association's list of the ten most frequently challenged books that year. It had been challenged for containing nudity and offensive language and for being "anti-family, ... sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group."
In February 2016, Essential Sequential began taking orders for a posable, 19-inch tall plushy Lying Cat doll that says, "Lying" when its collar is pressed, scheduled to ship that May. Later that June, Skybound announced that at the following month's San Diego Comic-Con, it would debut action figures based on the two lead characters, Alana and Marko, by McFarlane Toys. The five-inch figures are issued together in a two-pack, and are paired with a mace and a sword. The company also teamed with Yesterdays, a Southern California collectible enamel pin company, to produce Skybound's first ever pin set, which includes two pins of Lying Cat and a pin of Ghüs, also to debut at that Comic-Con. The Ghüs pin is priced at $10.00, and the Lying Cat set at $15.00, and both were limited to 1000 units each.
In other media
Although interest has been expressed in adapting Saga for film or TV, Vaughan and Staples reaffirmed their desire not to do so in an August 2013 interview, with Vaughan stating that the point of Saga as he conceived it was "to do absolutely everything I couldn't do in a movie or a TV show. I'm really happy with it just being a comic." Vaughan has stated that they are open to the possibility, though it is not a priority for them. However, merchandise based on the series has been produced, including a line of T-shirts featuring Lying Cat, which have become visible in popular media. In "Pac-Man Fever", the April 24, 2013 episode of the American TV series Supernatural, the character Charlie Bradbury (played by Felicia Day) is seen wearing a Lying Cat T-shirt. Day, who has referred to Saga as the "best comic EVER", indicated that show writer Robbie Thompson picked out the shirt.
The controversial cover of the comic's first issue was referenced in "The Meemaw Materialization", the February 4, 2016 episode of the American TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory. In the episode, Claire (Alessandra Torresani), a new patron of Stuart's comics shop, is reading the first trade paperback of the series (which features the same cover as its first issue), and Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) responds to this by observing, "Not a lot of comics have a woman with wings breastfeeding a baby right on the cover." Though the The Big Bang Theory is often criticized for its portrayal of comic book fans, according to Comic Book Resources, a Twitter search indicated reaction to the scene by fans of Saga readers who saw it was mostly positive.
|Title||Material collected||Publication date||ISBN|
|Saga - Volume One||Saga #1–6||October 10, 2012||978-1607066019|
|Saga - Volume Two||Saga #7–12||July 2, 2013||978-1607066927|
|Saga - Volume Three||Saga #13–18||March 25, 2014||978-1607069317|
|Saga - Volume Four||Saga #19–24||December 17, 2014||978-1632150776|
|Saga - Volume Five||Saga #25–30||September 30, 2015||978-1632154385|
|Saga - Volume Six||Saga #31–36||June 29, 2016||978-1632157119|
|Title||Material collected||Additional material||Publication date||ISBN|
|Saga - Book One||Saga #1–18||
||November 19, 2014||978-1632150783|
- Zalben, Alex (March 5, 2012). "The 'Saga' Of Brian K. Vaughan: How He Went From Runaway Kids To Epic Fantasy". MTV Geek.
- "AICN COMICS REVIEWS: Brian K. Vaughan’s SAGA! FAIREST! UNCANNY X-MEN! AKA! & MORE!!!". Ain't it Cool News. March 14, 2012.
- Richards, Ron (January 30, 2012). "ADVANCE REVIEW: SAGA #1 (Spoiler Free)". iFanboy.
- Uzumeri, David (March 14, 2012). "'Saga': Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples Bring a Stellar Sci-Fi Comic Into the World". ComicsAlliance.
- Johnston, Rich (February 5, 2016). "Saga Appears On The Big Bang Theory Over *That* Cover… (Art Ops UPDATE)". Bleeding Cool.
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- Bauman, Nadia (March 20, 2015). "The Hidden Message of Saga". Women Write About Comics.
- Kit, Borys (March 14, 2012). "'Lost' Writer Brian K. Vaughan Debuts New Comic With Damon Lindelof and Friends". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Wolk, Douglas (August 5, 2013). "Masters of the Universe. The space story Saga is the comic world's big hit". Time. p. 54.
- Lewis, Shane (February 26, 2012). "IMAGE EXPO: Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' "Saga" Panel". Comic Book Resources.
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter One" Saga 1 (March 2012), Image Comics
- Dietsch, T. J. (December 12, 2011). "EXCLUSIVE: Brian K. Vaughan Starts His 'Saga'". Comic Book Resources.
- Hayes, P.S. (March 13, 2012). "Comic Review: Saga #1". Geeks of Doom.
- Renaud, Jeffrey (July 23, 2011). "CCI EXCLUSIVE: BKV Builds 'Saga' at Image". Comic Book Resources.
- Rogers, Adam (April 24, 2007). "The 2007 Rave Awards: Print: The Storyteller". Wired
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Six" Saga 6 (August 2012), Image Comics
- Cunningham, Joel (June 22, 2016). "Brian K. Vaughan Talks Saga, Paper Girls, and Why We’ll Never Get That Lying Cat Series". Barnes & Noble.
- Armitage, Hugh (March 13, 2012). "Brian K Vaughan's 'Saga' launches". Digital Spy.
- Howard, Ben (December 1, 2015). "The epic return of ‘Saga’ #31". PopOptiq.
- Kepler, Adam W. (October 26, 2012). "Graphic Books Best Sellers: Fiona Staples Talks About 'Saga'". The New York Times.
- Allen, Todd (March 12, 2012). "Advance Review: "Saga" By Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples". The Beat.
- Gilly, Casey (November 20, 2014). "Brian K. Vaughan On the Expanding Universe of 'Saga'". Comic Book Resources.
- Dawidziak, Mark (January 19, 2009). "'Lost' writer Brian K. Vaughan is a Cleveland native". Cleveland.com.
- "Brian K. Vaughan signs "Saga" #1 @ Midtown Comics Downtown". Comic Book Resources. March 15, 2012
- Solan, Colin (March 14, 2012). "NYC – Saga Signing". Convention Scene.
- MacDonald, Heidi (August 14, 2012). "INTERVIEW: Brian K. Vaughan on the first SAGA collection". Comics Beat.
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- McCabe, Joseph (January 1, 2015). "The Top 5 Comic Reprint Collections of 2014". The Nerdist.
- Renaud, Jeffrey (August 31, 2016.). "Brian K. Vaughan Takes Saga to War in Issue #37". CBR.com.
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Thirteen" Saga 13 (August 2013), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Fourteen" Saga 14 (September 2013), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Three" Saga 3 (May 2012), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Two" Saga 7 (November 2012), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Eight" Saga 8 (December 2012), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Ten" Saga 10 (February 2013), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Nine" Saga 9 (January 2013), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Twelve" Saga 12 (April 2013), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapters Thirteen - Eighteen" Saga 13-18 (August 2013 - January 2014), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Nineteen" Saga 19 (May 2014), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Twenty" Saga 20 (June 2014), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Twenty-Three" Saga 23 (September 2014), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Twenty-Four" Saga 24 (October 2014), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapters Twenty-Five - Thirty" Saga 25-30 (February - July 2015), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapters Thirty-One - Thirty-Six" Saga 31-36 (November 2015 - April 2016), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Eighteen" Saga 18 (January 2014), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Fifteen" Saga 15 (October 2013), Image Comics
- Sava, Oliver (November 16, 2012). "Saga #7 and the year of Image Comics". A.V. Club.
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Four" Saga 4 (June 2012), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Five" Saga 5 (July 2012), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Thirty-One" Saga 31 (November 2015), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Two" Saga 2 (April 2012), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Seventeen" Saga 17 (December 2013), Image Comics
- Davis, Lauren (July 27, 2014). "Brian K. Vaughan And Fiona Staples Reveal What's Ahead For Saga". io9.
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Sixteen" Saga 16 (November 2013), Image Comics
- Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter Thirty-Three" Saga 33 (January 2016), Image Comics
- "THE START OF AN EPIC SAGA SELLS OUT: SAGA #1 gets a second printing". Comics Bulletin. March 13, 2012.
- Armitage, Hugh (March 14, 2012). "'Saga' #1 sells out, goes to reprint". Digital Spy.
- "THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM FOR SAGA AND THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS". Image Comics. March 21, 2012.
- Collis, Clark (August 6, 2012). "Walking Dead' writer Robert Kirkman and 'Harry Potter' star Tom Felton to appear at New York Comic Con -- EXCLUSIVE". "PopWatch". Entertainment Weekly.
- Meylikhov, Matthew (December 13, 2012). "Image Responds To The Reprint Decision In Open Letter, Saga #7 Gets Second Printing". Multiversity Comics.
- Meylikhov, Matthew (December 12, 2012). "Image No Longer Publishing Second Prints Of Select Titles". Multiversity Comics.
- "Saga". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- "Saga, Vol. 1". Publishers Weekly. October 8, 2012.
- Serafino, Jason (March 16, 2012). "Review: 'Lost' Writer Brian K. Vaughan Combines Sci-Fi And Fantasy In Image Comics’ 'Saga'". Complex.
- McElhatton, Greg (March 13, 2012). "Review: Saga #1". Comic Book Resources.
- Evans, Alex (March 15, 2012). "Saga #1 – Review". Weekly Comic Book Review.
- Zalben, Alex (April 2, 2012). "'Saga #2' Continues The Most Exciting New Series In Comics". MTV Geek!
- Thompson, Kelly (April 16, 2012). "Saga #2". Comic Book Resources.
- Zawisza, Doug (May 16, 2012). "SAGA #3". Comic Book Resources.
- Finnigan, Kevin (May 15, 2012). "ADVANCE REVIEW Saga #3". Comic Book Therapy.
- McElhatton, Greg (June 20, 2012). "Saga #4". Comic Book Resources.
- Zawisza, Doug (July 18, 2012). "Saga #5". Comic Book Resources.
- Esposito, Joey (July 18, 2012). "Saga #5 Review". IGN.
- Salvatore, Brian (July 20, 2012). "Review: Saga #5". Multiversity Comics.
- "Review: ‘Saga’ #5". Bloody Disgusting. July 18, 2012.
- Makries, Gary (August 3, 2012). "Comic Review: Saga #5". Geeks of Doom.
- Nguyen, Minhquan (July 24, 2012). "Saga #5 – Review". Weekly Comic Book Review.
- Esposito, Joey (August 15, 2012). "Saga #6 Review". IGN.
- Johnston, Rich (August 19, 2012). "Review: Saga #6 – Being Tucked Into Bed". Bleeding Cool.
- Nguyen, Minhaquan (August 18, 2012). "Saga #6 – Review". Weekly Comic Book Reviews.
- Finnigan, Kevin (August 14, 2012). "Saga #6 Review". Comic Book Therapy.
- Esposito, Joey (November 21, 2012). "The Comics We're Thankful For This Year". IGN.
- "CBR's Top 10 comics of 2012". Comic Book Resources. December 31, 2012
- Hennon, Blake (20 July 2013). "Comic-Con: 'Building Stories,' 'Saga' top Eisners (winners list)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
- Standlee, Kevin (September 1, 2013). "2013 Hugo Award Winners". The Hugo Awards. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
- "2013 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
- Mart, Seifert (September 7, 2013). "Saga Wins Big at 2013 Harvey Awards". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- "2014 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Winners". San Diego Comic-Con International. July 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
- Lovett, Jamie (April 22, 2015). "2015 Eisner Awards Nominees Announced". ComicBook.com.
- "Saga, Lumberjanes, Little Nemo Are Top Winners at 2015 Eisner Awards". San Diego Comic-Con International. Retrieved November 25, 2015
- "Best Graphic Novels & Comics". Goodreads. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
- Robertson, Adi (9 April 2013). "Apple bans 'Y: The Last Man' creator's new comic from Comixology over sexual content: The distinction between app and art breaks down". The Verge. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
- Kovach, Steve (10 April 2013). "Comic Book App Comixology Holds Off On Publishing Comic Depicting Graphic Gay Sex Fearing Apple Would Ban It (AAPL)". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
- Blakemore, Erin (September 30, 2015). "In Honor of Banned Books Week, Here Are the Most Challenged Books of 2014".
- "Frequently Challenged Books". American Library Association. Archived from the original on October 1, 2015. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
- Marie, Christine (November 26, 2015). "I Swear I’m Not LYING: Saga’s Lying Cat Statue Taking Pre-orders". Bleeding Cool.
- Melrose, Kevin (February 16, 2016). "'Saga's' Lying Cat is getting her own talking plushy (honest!)". Comic Book Resources.
- White, Brett (June 20, 2016). "'Saga' Action Figures Anchor New Wave Of Skybound SDCC Exclusives". Comic Book Resources.
- Davis, Brandon (June 27, 2016). "New Skybound The Walking Dead, Invincible, & More SDCC Exclusive Pins Revealed". comicbook.com.
- Ratcliffe, Amy (April 26, 2013). "Felicia Day’s Character Wore An Awesome Saga T-Shirt On Supernatural". Fashionably Geek.
- White, Brett (February 5, 2016). "'Big Bang Theory' Judges Vaughan & Staples' "Saga" By Its Cover". Comic Book Resources.
- Fowle, Kyle (February 4, 2016). "The Big Bang Theory wastes a visit from the legendary Meemaw". A.V. Club.
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