Comics Q&A: Brian K. Vaughan |


Comics Q&A: Brian K. Vaughan

As the final issue of ''Y: The Last Man'' hits stores, the series' author, ''Lost'' writer Brian K. Vaughan, talks with about his landmark comic: ''It's about how boys become men -- and why it takes women to make that transformation possible''

For many people, this is just another ho-hum day in pop culture. A new episode of American Idol to watch, an after-dinner showing of Rambo, nothing terribly special. But for a certain subset of the entertainment world, today brings an event as momentous as the finale of The Sopranos, one tinged with both triumph and a little sadness. We speak of the end of Y: The Last Man, which for 59 comic-book issues has chronicled the adventures, during a man-killing pandemic, of the planet’s sole male survivor and his pet monkey as they try to survive in a world that, for better and worse, has gone to the ladies. Issue 60, a double-sized capper/coda to the entire saga — completely different than any previous Y tale, and all the better for it — is on sale today.

Created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Pia Guerra, the critically acclaimed, award-winning saga (available in collected form at your local book store) has been the definition of excellence in serialized comic-book storytelling since its debut in 2002. Yorick Brown is a hero for our times, a sometimes bright, often clueless out-of-work twentysomething shlub trying to make sense of himself and his catastrophe-wracked world. He thinks if he can reunite with his girlfriend, Beth, who was in Australia when the chaos-creating outbreak occurred, everything might be a-okay. But as he stumbles and fumbles and meanders his way to her — accompanied by the mysterious Agent 355, assigned to protect him, and Dr. Allison Mann, determined to cure the mystery plague — Yorick discovers…stuff. Lots of stuff. Stuff better experienced than explained.

It’s a weird, wonderful, deep, and freakin’ funny funnybook. A romantic epic that brims with provocative ideas about gender, identity, race, relationships, power politics, art, love, and hope — all of which makes us human. Also, there’s monkey poop, occasional sex, and hilarious pop-culture references. The series made Vaughan a comics superstar and brought him to the attention of Lost executive producer Damon Lindelof, who hired him last year to be a writer on the show. In fact, next week’s episode is written by Vaughan and Cloverfield scribe Drew Goddard. (Sorry: no spoilers.) recently spoke to Vaughan about the origins of Y and its beleaguered, would-be magician/escape-artist hero, at which time he revealed his secret for writing about women as well as life on Lost.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was the inspiration for Y: The Last Man?
BRIAN K. VAUGHAN: You know, the answer always changes. I don’t remember, so I try to come up with the most dramatic, satisfying reason. But I realized recently that it probably comes from going to an all-boys Catholic high school. We had a sister school that would occasionally put on plays, and I would volunteer to help out as a cheap way to meet girls. The experience of walking through the hallways of an all-girl school and the looks of derision mixed with titillation and confusion — I’m sure that had a huge impact on me and planted the seed for my interest in gender and telling stories about gender.

And what was the inspiration for setting that exploration within this dystopian, sci-fi context?
I love a good high concept. I think for too long high concept has become synonymous with lowbrow. But I like taking a simple, striking concept and really playing it out to its most logical conclusions — which meant in the case of Y, researching everything that could happen if you removed men from global politics and agriculture and engineering. What affect would that have on the planet? Why would it have that affect? It seemed like a cool way to get into asking questions.

How much research did you do?
Wayyyyy too much. I love doing research. I’m a film-school geek. I know very little outside Boba Fett-related trivia. I feel like any writing is an excuse to learn more about the world. And it was just fun. If this plague is going to hit and kill all the men instantaneously, how many female pilots are there, and what happens to the planes in the air? And as long as we’re talking about planes…how about submarines? Are there women in submarines? Every door opened up another door, and I just of fell down the rabbit hole. It was an interesting year of solid research into questions like those before I even started writing.

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