Comics

Recommendation: Saga, an utterly compelling comic series

Have you ever had something–a movie, an author, a TV series, or similar–repeatedly mentioned in passing, over a period of time? And despite its repeat presence in conversations or videos or internet browsing, you don’t bother to look it up? I experienced this situation with the comic series Saga, and now that I’m completely wrapped up in it, I wish I had looked it up sooner.

Saga follows Alana and Marko, lovers from opposite sides of a giant war taking place on multiple planets. As they journey through space with their daughter Hazel, they meet unique creatures and characters, and find themselves in situations of distress, desire, and duplicity.

It’s a vague summary, but I don’t want to give away any more than that. What I will say is that it’s a wonderfully written and illustrated series. Written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Fiona Staples, the graphics plus the story keeps you captivated as you feverishly turn every page. Each monthly issue introduces a concept that is equal parts shocking and compelling, and you’re constantly put on the edge of your seat.

According to Image Comics, the publisher of Saga, the series is “heavily influenced by Star Wars, and based on ideas Vaughan conceived both as a child and as a parent.” (Source) This is very apparent in the story, which takes place in an entirely imagined universe, both beautiful and terrifying simultaneously. Alana and Marko as characters not only grow and evolve, but Mr. Vaughan peels back the layers of their personalities through flashbacks, drug trips, and confrontations, giving the reader an intimate view into these characters’ true cores.

Some of the most tender moments in the series are narrated by Hazel, offering an innocent perspective on what can occasionally be very horrific events. She seems to reach through the page directly to the reader, until your heart feels intricately linked to this small family.

When I first looked up Saga, I ordered the first Volume (available online here or here). As soon as it arrived, I began to read it . . . and completely devoured it, very quickly. Suddenly, I was ordering all of the available volumes. Once I had raced through those, I went to my local comic book shop and set up a box for the monthly issues.

Of course, not everyone has the same reaction to the same things, but I do recommend Saga for anyone who likes comics, enjoys stories in space, or wants to have their imagination stretched. It’s for adults, i.e. there are drugs, sex, and violence. However, it’s never gratutious and it always supports the story in full. (Which is not to say the drug trips or sex scenes aren’t completely and totally fun.)

I think my favorite quote comes from Entertainment Weekly, which called Saga “[the] kind of comic you get when truly talented superstar creators are given the freedom to produce their dream book.” (Source) It’s high praise that is very much well deserved.

Check out Saga, and see if it captures you the way it has for so many other readers!

Magazines

Essential vs. Wishlist – The pricetag war

This past week, while perusing the April 2017 issue of InSTYLE magazine, I flipped to the “my style” page, which generally features a stylish person with ties to the fashion world in one way or another. The page mashes up pictures of their favorite items, pieces, and destinations, giving you an extremely condensed lookbook for their style.

April’s featured person noted, “A key piece in my wardrobe is Cartier’s Tank watch.” I looked to the corresponding numbered picture (3) and saw the plain square watch from Cartier (a high-end brand), with the lofty pricetag of $4,600. Woof, I thought. That’s a lot of cash for a watch.

Unbothered, I pushed on.

“Sandals from Aurora James’s line, Brother Vellies, are high on my wish list.” My eyes traveled to the matching number (5) and the sandals, with a price of $584. I immediately stopped in utter shock.

It was the words “wish list” that confounded me. The $4,600 watch was “a key piece” but the $584 sandals were on the “wish list”? Logically, it didn’t compute for me. I couldn’t look at these two very different numbers and associate “essential” with thousands of dollars, but “maybe” with the comparatively low $584.

I initially tweeted about it, stating that perhaps the person had saved for a long time to obtain that “key piece.” Yet even that bothered me, and I’ll admit it’s most likely a “just me” issue. I personally can’t imagine spending that much on a watch, but I have my own emotional struggles with money and spending it. I can accept that!

I quickly came to the conclusion that I was in the wrong economic class to be flipping through InSTYLE, much less receiving a monthly subscription. (Note: I receive it for free, I did not pay to subscribe. It was part of a deal from ShoeDazzle, which has now become customary–make a purchase, get a free magazine subscription.)

With all that said, I was disappointed to be looking at these very different numbers and feelings. I couldn’t relate to this person, their style, or their priorities. Not to say that’s the intention of the page–surely, they mean it to be inspirational or just something pretty to look at–but it’s still a bit stinging to realize you are definitely not the intended audience, and for economic reasons.

Unfortunately, I feel this way frequently and not just with InSTYLE. Even in a fitness magazine, it’s confusing for me to see $180 exercise leggings lumped in with a $30 water bottle, or any combination of high-low prices. In my head, I try to imagine the person spending money on both items, and I reach a dead end where it just won’t compute, it’s illogical, and I can’t figure it out. Who is the audience? Where is the person who buys both items and what in the world does their life look like? Is it a dual income household? How old are they? How long have they worked? How high up in their career are they? The list of questions drags on, and I can never answer any of them because it just does not make sense.

Even with unanswered questions about marketing, potential audiences, and bothersome pricetags, I continue to look through all kinds of magazines and do my best to ignore the rollercoaster of varying price tags for products. As someone said to me, “It’s like window shopping.” Indeed it is–you just have to choose to admire and move on.