Vaughan, Brian K. 1976–
Vaughan, Brian K. 1976–
Born 1976, in Cleveland, OH. Education: New York University, B.A., 1998.
Writer for comic books, graphic novels, and television, 1999—. Voice actor, "A Letter for the Western Front," 1999; writer and executive story editor, "Lost," 2007, co-producer, 2008.
Received Eisner, Harvey, and Shuster Awards; "Ten Best Works of Fiction" citation, Entertainment Weekly, 2005 for Ex Machina; named "Writer of the Year" by Wizard Magazine, and one of the "top ten comic writers of all time" by Comic Book Resources.
"Y: LAST MAN" SERIES; GRAPHIC NOVELS
Y: The Last Man: Unmanned, illustrated by Pia Guerra, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2003.
Y: The Last Man: One Small Step, illustrated by Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2004.
(With others) Green Lantern: Circle of Fire, illustrated by Norm Breyfogle and others, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2002.
Ex Machina, WildStorm (La Jolla, CA), 2005.
Pride of Baghdad: Inspired by a True Story, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2006.
Runaways: Pride & Joy, Panini (Tunbridge Wells, Kent), 2007.
Also author of other comic book series, including Ex Machina, with artist Tony Harris; Runaways; Mystique; The Hood; and a prequel for the X2 series. Author of issues for comic book series, including Batman, Swamp Thing, and Chamber. Also author of For Art's Sake.
Comic book writer and scriptwriter Brian K. Vaughan, author of the "Y: Last Man" series of graphic novels, became interested in writing for the comics genre when two editors from Marvel Comics came to visit New York University, where Vaughan was studying filmmaking. The editors met with students and taught them about comic book script writing, and Vaughan submitted some writing samples. In an interview with Nolan Reese on the Movie Poop Shoot Web site, Vaughan recalled: "[The editors] liked some of my samples, so they threw me little assignments, scripting gigs and whatnot. And I sort of crawled my way up the latter after that."
In Y: The Last Man: Unmanned, Vaughan presented the first of his ongoing novels about "Y," or Yorick Brown. In the novel, which is composed of the first five books of a comic series and illustrated by Pia Guerra, a mysterious plague has wiped out every male animal on Earth except Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand. Although Yorick has survived, he is on the run from an Amazon-like tribe formed by women who want to make sure the last man on Earth is captured. As he tries to evade his pursuers, Yorick searches for a cloning researcher to find out why he survived and who can help him repopulate the world. In an interview in Titan Magazine, Vaughn noted: "Y was inspired by something I used to daydream about in third grade, that the pretty redheaded girl who sat across from me would fall madly in love with me … as soon as every other boy in the class dropped dead." Writing in Booklist, Gordon Flagg noted that the "yarn introduces a large number of intriguing characters and plotlines as it lays the groundwork for what promises to be a compelling series." Library Journal contributor Steve Raiteri said the book's "appeal is its fine story, well scripted with dryly humorous touches by Vaughan."
The next book in the series is titled Y: The Last Man: One Small Step, once again featuring Yorick and Ampersand. Yorick is still being hunted, this time by a group called the Culper Ring, whose aims are to study Yorick. As they track him across the country, they protect him from an Israeli strike team that wants Yorick for its own unsavory purposes and that is being aided in its hunt by the female president of the United States. In addition, a space station carrying two male astronauts is about to fall into a Kansas cornfield. The plot is further complicated when Yorick and his bodyguard from the Culper Ring appear to be falling in love. Writing in Publishers Weekly, a reviewer commented: "The stakes are high, and Vaughan masterfully interweaves story lines." The reviewer also noted, "This book is complete and utter comic gold."
Vaughan published his first graphic novel in 2006. Entitled Pride of Baghdad: Inspired by a True Story, it tells the story of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq from the point of view of four lions who escape from the Baghdad zoo during the bombing of the city. "For a while, I'd wanted to do an anthropomorphized animal comic," he explained to PW Comics Week interviewer Douglas Wolk, "because it was so different from anything else I was working on. There's a tradition in comics, from [Walt Disney's] Scrooge McDuck to [Art Spiegelman's] Maus, of using talking animals—it's something that's specific to comics. I'd wanted to do a story like that, and I really wanted to write about Iraq, because it was all I was thinking about at the time. So when I read the story about the zoo, it was a convergence of these things that I really wanted to experiment with."
While the author gives the animals the power of speech, the comic is far from a simple talking-animal story—the characters, according to Charles de Lint of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, are animals endowed with the power of communication rather than people wearing animal masks. "Vaughan anthropomorphizes his characters to some extent," de Lint stated, "but while they speak and express individual worldviews and values, they remain very much the animals that they are." "The lions' particular viewpoints—male, female, old, young—," declared Booklist reviewer Francisca Goldsmith, "allow moral questions to be considered from several experiential bases." "I think that, like [George Orwell's] Animal Farm, on the surface it's this simple true-life animal adventure, but then there's a complex political allegory lurking underneath," the author told Brian Michael Bendis in an interview published in Wizard Entertainment. "It's really different from anything I've ever done before."
Vaughan, critics agree, has created a story that goes into deeper issues about war and its effects on the powerless. The use of animal protagonists allowed Vaughan to tap people's feelings about animals and victimization in ways that human protagonists could not have done. "It's weird," Vaughan stated in his Bookslut interview with Liz Miller. "You can threaten and kill a baby in a movie, but put a dog in jeopardy and people will walk out. You make a more immediate connection to a giraffe than a person. It sounds psychotic, that you can feel more for an animal than a human." Mostly, however, Pride of Baghdad is about the civilian experience of war. "I wanted to write a book from a non-combatant's perspective, and talk about war from the civilian point-of-view," he told Miller. "It's really difficult for Americans to sympathize with ‘the other,’ and I wanted to cross that culture gap. Emotionally, we're maybe not able to feel for [Iraqi civilians] the way we can feel for talking animals. So I was looking to exploit our universal sympathy with animals to tell a story about the suffering of Iraqi civilians." "An allegorical tale with compelling and believable characters," Erin Dennington concluded in School Library Journal, "Baghdad makes it clear that without self-determination, there can be no freedom"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2003, Gordon Flagg, review of Y: The Last Man: Unmanned, p. 970; September 1, 2005, Ray Olson, review of Ring of Truth, p. 77; August 1, 2006, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Pride of Baghdad: Inspired by a True Story, p. 62; April 1, 2007, Ray Olson, review of Motherland: Y; the Last Man 9, p. 37.
Entertainment Weekly, December 6, 2002, review of Y: The Last Man: Unmanned, p. 102.
Houston Chronicle, May 15, 2007, "POP CULTURE; Storyteller Bridges Genres of Comic Books, TV and Films; Brian K. Vaughan Enjoys Collaboration as Member of Writing Team of TV's ‘Lost,’" p. 1.
Kliatt, January, 2007, Jennifer Feigelman, review of Pride of Baghdad, p. 33.
Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Steve Raiteri, review of Y: The Last Man: Unmanned, p. 100; September 1, 2004, Steve Raiteri, review of Runaways: Pride & Joy, p. 129; July 1, 2005, Steve Raiteri, review of Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days, p. 62.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 2007, Charles De Lint, review of Pride of Baghdad, p. 40.
New York, November 14, 2005, Ben Mathis-Lilley, review of Ex Machina, p. 98.
New York Times, September 3, 2006, "The Feelings of Life, Illustrated," p. 21.
Publishers Weekly, April 12, 2004, review of Y: The Last Man: One Small Step, p. 41; June 28, 2004, review of Runaways, p. 33; April 18, 2005, "Super-mayors, Gender and Evil Parents," p. 27; July 10, 2006, review of Pride of Baghdad, p. 60.
School Library Journal, January, 2007, Erin Dennington, review of Pride of Baghdad, p. 163.
Teacher Librarian, February, 2005, Michele Gorman, review of Runaways, p. 58.
Times Literary Supplement, April 20, 2007, Malu Halasa, review of Pride of Baghdad, p. 29.
Wisconsin Bookwatch, May, 2005, "Ex Machina."
Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (December 16, 2007), Liz Miller, interview with Brian K. Vaughan.
Brian K. Vaughan Myspace Page,http://www.myspace.com/briankvaughan (December 16, 2007), author bio.
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (December 16, 2007), "Brian K. Vaughan."
Movie Poop Shoot Web site, http://www.moviepoopshoot.com/ (December 16, 2007), Nolan Reese, interview with Brian K. Vaughan.
PW Comics Week—Publishers Weekly,http://www.publishersweekly.com/ (December 16, 2007), Douglas Wolk, "Brian K. Vaughan's Roaring Pride."
Suicide Girls Web site, http://suicidegirls.com/ (December 16, 2007), Daniel Robert Epstein, interview with Brian K. Vaughan.
Titan Magazine Web site,http://www.titanmagazines.com/ (December 16, 2007), interview with Brian K. Vaughan.
Wizard Entertainment,http://www.wizarduniverse.com/ (December 16, 2007), Brian Michael Bendis, interview with Brian K. Vaughan.