PW: Tell us about the four comics series you're writing right now.
Brian K. Vaughan:Ex Machina (DC/Wildstorm, 2005) is a political thriller—a story about the world's first real superhero, who decides to leave the mask-and-cape lifestyle behind to run for mayor of New York City in the aftermath of 9/11. Then there's Y the LastMan (DC/Vertigo, vol. 4, 2004, started 2003), in which a plague of unknown origin destroys every male on the planet Earth except for a young man named Yorick Brown and his pet monkey, Ampersand. I know it sounds like a late-night Cinemax skin flick, but it's really an excuse to talk about gender in comics. Runaways (Marvel, vol. 3, 2005 started 2004) is a subversive kids' story—at some point, we all think that our parents are the most evil people alive, but for these kids it's actually true. They find out that their parents are actually supervillains, they run away from home and hijinks ensue. It's collected in manga-size digests—the format kids are most familiar with these days, and Runaways has done spectacularly well. And I also do Ultimate X-Men over at Marvel.
PW: What were the political ideas behind Ex Machina?
BKV: I wanted to talk about the way the political landscape had and hadn't changed since 9/11. I noticed things like Bush in his flight suit, or Kerry running on his war record, or—I live in California now, and an action hero got elected governor. It seems like the country is hungry to have leaders who are also "heroes." The question of Ex Machina is: are heroes real, or just something that we fabricate?
PW: What sort of reactions have you gotten from Y readers?
BKV: The nice thing about writing Yis that guys come up with their girlfriends or women come up with their boyfriends and say, "Thank you—this is the first comic book I gave to my significant other." [Artist] Pia Guerra and I very consciously set Y up without very complicated layouts, so that if you only read Sunday comics you can still follow it.
PW: Any other projects coming up?
BKV: I've got a graphic novel that Niko Henrichon is drawing called Pride of Baghdad that's coming from Vertigo, probably late this summer. It's inspired by a true story of four lions that escaped from the Baghdad zoo during the American invasion. It's probably the best thing I've ever been a part of. And I got a phone call from Michael Chabon asking if I'd be the regular writer for The Escapist (Dark Horse), which is actually less about the Escapist and more about the comic creators in Kavalier and Clay, the real world. [Chabon's] probably my favorite living novelist. When you get a phone call like that, you can't say no.