Brian K. Vaughan: A Journey's End

BRIAN K. VAUGHAN: I'll just say it's hidden somewhere in the 60 issues. And if you really worked for it, it's there.... I think there are certain answers that the audience demands and are owed. And there are certain other mysteries where whatever answer you come up with will be more satisfying than anything I would give you. I think a certain amount of ambiguity is what brings beauty to work — which I know is scary to hear, coming from a guy who works on Lost.

Who were your major storytelling influences?
Alan Moore, first and foremost. He made me want to write comics and be a writer in general. And more recently, I would say Garth Ennis. When I first broke into comics, I tried to write like Alan Moore's retarded cousin — you know, nine-panel pages, beautiful prose captions laid over everything. Seeing Garth's early work in Hellblazer, and the later Preacher, and seeing that almost cinematic way that you can just back off and trust your artist to tell the story.... Readers love looking at the images as much as they do reading the words. So it was learning to just back off and tell a story visually. Good writing is about editing. One caption can be more devastating than 20. That was also huge influence. Outside of comics, I'm a big Coen brothers junkie.

It's almost impossible to ask you questions about the final issue, because the whole premise and context of this issue hinges an idea that would be criminal to spoil. But fair to say: It's different, no?
It's very different. I'm trying to say nothing at all. I think people are convinced that it's going to be the St. Elsewhere ending, or Yorick's been dreaming this all along. I think anyone expecting a big twist regarding the nature of the plague will be in for a disappointment. There was a reason we stopped talking about the plague and its causes a few issues earlier, because that was never the point. It's about the last boy on Earth becoming the last man on Earth. That's what the last issue is about.

Thematically speaking, what was this series really all about?
It's about how boys become men — and why it takes women to make that transformation possible.

How did you get hooked up with Lost?
Damon Lindelof was a big geek for Y: The Last Man and I met him briefly a few years ago at the San Diego comic-book convention [a.k.a. Comic-Con]. We got along well, and I had been obsessed with Lost, a big fanboy for it. Then I moved out to Los Angeles, in part to babysit the Y movie adaptation [now in turnaround at New Line Cinema]. Damon heard I moved out here and there was an opening at Lost, so he asked me to come in for a general meeting. I didn't have so much as a spec script for a TV show. That's no way to get on a bad TV show, much less the best TV shows. It's a testament to Damon's genius — or his idiocy — that he said, ''Look, you can write great stories. I don't care if they are comics or movies, you'd be a valuable asset.'' So my comics served as an ambassador: He foolishly thought because he liked my comics, he'd like working with me. But too late, he's already hired me.

What's next for you in comics?
I'm wrapping up Ex Machina; our final issue will be No. 50. It'll be nice to give that book a lot of love and attention in its home stretch. I'm thinking about new things. A graphic novel. Perhaps a new continuing series after Ex Machina wraps. I'm not a complete sellout just yet. I will never leave comics.

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Originally posted Jan 29, 2008

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