Sep 02

Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Posted on September 2, 2021 at 12:57 PM by Zach Berkley

Saga, Volume 1 - The Art of Reading September Read

Saga, Volume 1 - Cover

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.


Why are we reading it?

The short answer is because it’s popular… But it’s popular because it is so good!

It’s Star Wars and Romeo and Juliet and The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones all sort of mashed together around two new parents just trying to do the best they can for their new baby girl. It is also as graphic, violent and profane as it can be beautiful, sweet and hopeful and manages to be very real in a very unreal setting with a lot of bizarre characters. 

All of that seems to resonate with readers, since it is one of the most lauded comics in print today. In 2013, the year it was first collected as a trade paperback (the single issues began printing in March of 2012), Saga, Volume 1 won three Eisner Awards for Best Continuing Series, Best New Series and Best Writer. That same year, it also won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, the British Fantasy Award for Best Comic/Graphic Novel, and six of the seven Harvey Awards it was nominated for, including: Best Writer, Best Artist and Best New Series. That was just the first year! Subsequent volumes have gone on to win several other awards in the following years, including seven more Eisner Awards and eleven more Harvey Awards!

And it is still going, sort of. So there should be more for everyone to enjoy… eventually. The creative team decided to take a break when the series reached its half-way point (54 of a planned 108 issues). In the fall of 2018. Still, they are working on it. So you have plenty of time to catch up and familiarize yourself with the story and then, if you like it, more to look forward to as well. It’s a great situation (if you look at it just right and squint a little). 

About the Authors

Brian K. Vaughan is the writer and co-creator of comic-book series including Saga, Paper Girls, Y the Last Man, Runaways, and most recently, Barrier, a digital comic with artist Marcos Martin about immigration, available from their pay-what-you-want site Vaughan’s work has been recognized at the Eisner, Harvey, Hugo, Shuster, Eagle, and British Fantasy Awards. He also sometimes writes for film and television.

Fiona Staples is a Canadian comic book artist known for her work on books such as North 40, DV8: Gods and Monsters, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Saga. She has won multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards. In 2015, Staples was voted the #1 female comic book artist of all-time by readers of Comic Book Resources.

Aug 30

And that’s August (and March) done.

Posted on August 30, 2021 at 7:16 PM by Zach Berkley

We are wrapping up March: Book One this week. It’s a book that seems like it should be bigger - it encompasses big events and big personalities and big ideals. 

March: Book One - Change

Physically it avoids being a daunting length using the two strategies available to the format. The first is obvious from the ‘Book One’ part of the title – the story continues in further volumes. The second is that you can get a lot of storytelling done quickly with pictures. Aside from the actual physical dimensions of the book it still feels big though, weighty even. At least it did to me. 

March is one of those books that is informative without being bogged down in dates and names and facts. It manages to flow smoothly despite the danger of it being stifled by its own gravitas. In short, I think it does what it meant to – to tell a genuine and heartfelt story about a bleak and challenging time in our history, about an anger and a struggle that needs to be remembered, but to do so with kindness and hope at its core.    

March: Book One - Liberated

For those that are interested in reading on, I strongly recommend the second and third books in the March series. When you are done with those you can move on to Run: Book One, out just this month. Follow John Lewis into the next stage of his life, his entry into political life as he battles against the inevitable backlash that always come after times of great change. 

For The Art of Reading though, September will be Saga month.  

Saga, Volume 1 - Cover

Stay tuned for more info!   

Aug 23

March: Book One: The Questions

Posted on August 23, 2021 at 3:26 PM by Zach Berkley

How was it? What worked for you about the story and/or the art? What didn’t?

As out first non-fiction graphic novel there are different ways we could go with the discussion. Do we focus on the story telling or the history? Or, so that I don’t have to decide between the two, do we do both? I’ve never liked having to make decisions like that, so both it is. 


“We have to march,” says John Lewis after the bombing of the Loobys’ house. Marches certainly play a role in the book and in the history of the civil rights movement, but why was it an apt title for this book? And why marches in general? How did an activity that was most frequently associated with military contexts become a major part of protests and non-violent movements? What is the power and purpose of a march?


Nonviolent resistance has been to bring about social change but how does it compare to other methods? Can it always work or do certain conditions need to exist within a society before non-violence can be deployed as a protest method successfully? Is religious background and values, like John Lewis’s, an integral part of non-violent movements? Does loving one’s attacker make more a stronger and more effective nonviolent resistance? Do you think that you could be a part of such resistance when confronted with the same levels of hatred and violence?

Other Leaders

What do you think of the depiction of the other civil rights leaders in March? When reading the story, you get to be a fly on the wall for meetings of some of the most influential people of that time. Do the interactions feel genuine? How do you feel about the very human and perhaps somewhat critical depiction of Martin Luther King Jr. in the book?


The Art

I know people that won’t read black and white graphic novels. For someone it is because it feels unfinished or rough, for others it just seems dull in comparison to the bright colors of the graphic novels and comics that they are used to. In the case or March, many of these people weren’t bothered by it. Sometimes a certain aesthetic just works with a story and an art style. What did you think of the art and color (or lack of)? Does it work? Do you think that it adds to or takes away from the story?


Not Just Superheroes

Graphic novels have grown to fill every niche and genre available. Non-fiction graphic novels are not new and have already proven themselves. In the case of this acclaimed example, what is better about it in the form it has taken? What does it do better than it might if it were written in a more traditional format? Is there anything that might have worked better in as written word rather than drawings?  


Have an answer to one, some, or all of the questions above? Please, comment below. I will try to respond to all of your comments. Maybe someone (other than me) will comment on your comment as well. Alternatively, you also have the option of writing about whatever other tidbits, topics and/or questions you’ve thought of while reading March.