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Brian K. Vaughan talks Runaways launch, Saga adaptation being years away

Of all the indie comic book properties now being adapted to screen, I can't think of series I'd like to see get optioned more than Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples Saga. For those of you who've yet to read the enigmatic and hyper-sexual sci-fi comic series, Saga tells of an epic love story that unfolds in a world populated by killer robots, masturbating dragons, anthropomorphic seals, and aliens unlike you've ever seen. It would be the perfect long-form project for someone like Patty Jenkins, Taika Waititi, or Denis Villeneuve.

Recently, Y: The Last Man, Paper Girls, Runaways, and Saga co-creator Brian K. Vaughan sat down for a fireside chat with The Hollywood Reporter, and fielded a series of questions regarding a variety of his works that are currently in development for the big or small screen. During his time with the entertainment outlet, Vaughan talked a great deal about his involvement with Marvel's new Runaways series, which is set to make its debut on November 21st (today) on Hulu.

When asked about the genesis of the Runaways project, Vaughan told THR the following:

"I love Marvel Comics. I revered Stan Lee. I continue to, obviously. I really wanted to know what a 21st century Marvel comic would feel like. I love the simplicity of Marvel's concepts, and also the integrity of intent. Spider-Man is: "With great power comes great responsibility." Daredevil is: "Justice is blind." Hulk is this exploration of the monster trapped within the man. There's just such clarity and force to it. I wanted something that was simple, but also felt a little bit subversive. If the DC characters always felt a little austere and more like your dad, it felt like the Marvel characters were rougher-edged. I wanted to reverse-engineer what Stan Lee might make if he was [starting to make] comics in the early 2000s."

When asked about what it felt like to return to the characters he'd created with artist Adrian Alphona, Vaughan replied:

"It's the last thing I ever expected to have happen. It feels like it happened very quickly! In some form or another, I feel like I've been hearing about a Y: The Last Man adaptation for almost this whole past 15 years or so. With Runaways, it feels like it was just the other day that Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage sat down with me and said they were thinking about doing this — and now, pow! The red carpet premiere is any day now. It happened very quickly and very surprisingly."

Then, in talking about his behind-the-scenes involvement with Runaways, Vaughan revealed that he was pleased with the amount by which he was included in the show's production. "I have to say, they have been so generous — they give me a lot of credit — but in reality, this is very much Josh and Stephanie's show," Vaughan replied. "They have assembled an incredible group of writers that I have been lucky enough to sit in with. I have a consultant title. They certainly consulted with me at every stage. The reality is, they didn't really need my help all that much. It was a lot of asking questions about, "How the hell do we do this? How do you pronounce this character's name? What do you think about us changing this?" I feel my job was to give them the cloud cover, the freedom I guess, to make it their own. If this is going to succeed in 2017 as a television show, you can't treat the 2003 comic book as storyboards to be adapted exactly. It needs to evolve. It needs to change. I was hopeful that they would make it their own, and they very much have."

As the interview continues, Vaughan begins talking about a few of his other projects that've recently been considered for the page-to-screen treatment:

"It's certainly something I think about. I get a lot of nice offers. For right now, I'm so deep into [writing the comic books] Saga and Paper Girls. I love that those books afford me a chance to still hang out with my children. That's something television doesn't do as much. It's so time-consuming. I'll return to it someday. But right now, getting to balance little league with comic book deadlines is perfect for me."

While on the topic of his creator-owned comic book property Saga, Vaughan began speaking about his feeling that the series in unadaptable, at this point in time. "You know, I still probably think not yet," says Vaughan. "But I wouldn't have imagined what was possible with Runaways now being possible 15 years ago … so, maybe in 15 years we will have caught up. I still think for now, I flatter myself to think Fiona and I are doing something that celebrates what only comics can do, which is the scope beyond a Hollywood blockbuster in terms of the visuals, but also a challenging grown-up story like you would get in a long-form TV drama. I think it's still very difficult, with what we're trying to say and do, for that to be done in film and television. I remain not completely opposed to it. But for me, it's so not the goal. I would rather just keep my head down and keep making a great comic book, then get out there and chase a great adaptation."

Lastly, when asked about what's next for the Saga comic book series, Vaughan shared that "Volume nine is about fake news and genuine terror. Fiona and I talked about how we haven't done an arc yet that has a real horror film feel to it. This is about horror, and also about the world of news that these tabloid reporter characters Upsher and Doff come from coming to the fore with the rest of our crew. We'll be exploring news in the universe of Saga, and what that's going to mean for our family's future."

I must admit, it pains me a little to think that we might not see a film or television adaptation of Saga for several years to come, though I respect Vaughan's desire to keep the series close to his chest until he and Fiona feel that the time is right. While I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for a change of heart, I'll definitely be checking out Marvel's Runaways later this evening, and I will be in the front row for when Y: The Last Man comes to screen. 

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