Brian K. Vaughan first conceived Saga when he was a child, though it was not until his wife became pregnant with his second daughter that he began to develop the series in earnest, as the underlying theme of parenthood is central to the series. The comic focuses on Alana and Marko, two lovers from warring extraterrestrial races who struggle to survive with their newborn daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series. Vaughan, who intended to return to writing a comics series following the 2010 conclusion of his previous series, Ex Machina, saw parallels between the caution 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.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 first announced at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International as "Star Wars meets A Game of Thrones". Saga represents the first time Vaughan has employed third-person 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 Vaughan's 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, a decision he explained 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's] 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 to be strictly to be a comic book, and not 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."
The series is illustrated by Fiona Staples, who was introduced to Vaughan through their mutual friend, writer Steve Niles, with whom Staples worked on Mystery Society. In addition to designing all the ships and alien races in the story and providing painted covers, Staples also hand-letters Hazel's narration.
The book's release was celebrated with a launch party at Los Angeles’ Meltdown Comics, which featured a public conversation with Vaughan's former co-worker, Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof, who in 2007, had hired Vaughan as a writer/producer on that series. 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.
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 featured 44 pages of story and no advertisements, for both its print and digital versions.
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