Before I even laid eyes on the first collected edition of Saga, by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples, I had it pegged as a certain nominee for and potential winner of the 2013 Best Graphic Story Hugo. The online comics commentariat had greeted the series rapturously. The internet was awash with folks calling it the best sf comic of 2012, and there were plenty calling it the best comic of any kind.
I already knew Brian K Vaughan has some remarkable technical gifts as a comics writer, and therefore pretty much believed the hype. I was prepared to be entirely blown away by Saga. When I did read it, though, I was not blown away. I liked it well enough, but was not struck dumb by its awesomeness.
Then I thought about it for a bit, I read it again, and – belatedly – I got it. Saga is very good, just not in quite the dramatic ways I was half-expecting. It’s not wildly innovative in technique or narrative; it’s not a revolutionary statement of new possibilities for comics. Rather, its goodness – perhaps even greatness – is of the comparatively quiet, unshowy sort, making the difficult and sophisticated look simple and effortless (and thus, perhaps, invisible). It’s all about the craft, this one.