Y, the last issue

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Update: For a change, here’s Brian K. Vaughan on CNN.

In big comics media events this week, Bucky-is-Cap is definitely getting a run for its money from the appearance today of issue #60 of Y the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. (And don’t forget inker Jose Marzan!) Just about every media outlet has its own appreciation of the 5 years-and-change journey of Yorick Brown in a world where all the men have died except him–and his monkey. Whitney Matheson interviewed a bunch of folks, including Tom Spurgeon, for USA Today. Vulture interviewed Vaughan about Y and Lost, which has its own media event this week. EW also interviews Vaughan. And just to brek things up, Newsarama’s Zack Smith has a lengthy two-part interview with Brian K. Vaughan. Part one, part two.Blogger Van Jensen has a whole week of Y-related stuff up. Whitney also talks to DJ Caruso who is slated to direct the Y the Last Man movie.

It is dense. And basically, we’re not jumping off a little bit, but we took a little license with how to get a ticking clock. One of the things with Yorick and kind of going around the whole series was there is this sort of urgency, but at the same time, there’s really no ticking clock, so we’re using Ampersand in sort of an interesting way and … sort of separating them a little sooner than they might’ve been separated in the series.


I’m scanning this all a bit lightly because I have all the trades and last few issues in a big stack and want to try to read the whole thing in order when I have a spare moment (unlikely as that sounds.) I haven’t read a Y trade since the “Safe Word” story line. I guess I was saving it all up.

All of which is ironic, because I read the ending long ago.

{Don’t worry, absolutely no spoilers in the jump.]

I was the original editor on Y, and reading all the historical looks back feels very odd because…well, it was just making a comic book. At one point Brian had to write a summary of the whole 60-issue run and I did read it and comment on it…but I promptly forgot about it because I wanted to see the story unfold as a reader would and edit it on that basis. In the end, I saw it as more of a reader than I originally planned, but that’s okay.

I do remember Brian pitching me the concept for Y along with a few others, and me saying “That’s the one!” Brian had all the facts and figures — printed as the text page of Y’s first issue — on how many woman ran what in the real world, and just reading that alone, I was sold. It was a hoary old chestnut — a lone man surrounded by a world of lonely horny women, some of whom want to screw him to death, others who just want the “to death” part. It was the twist that this was taking place in the REAL world and would deal with real life issues and not just the obvious sexual tensions that excited me. Plus it was just a cracking great yarn. Brian was then little known but his work on the last few issues of SWAMP THING had mightily impressed me with his tight plotting, snappy dialog and sympathetic characters. I never had any doubts that Y would be a home run.

Getting Pia on board was great. She’d been kind of kicking around comics for a while but she had sent in some samples that blew most everybody away. I had several writers who were dying to work with her, but Brian won out, especially since the idea of having a woman artist on the book seemed so appropriate.

I have two other little memories of Y that I will share. One is the story behind the cover to #1. I was lucky enough to get JG Jones on board to do the covers, but I had broken what I consider the cardinal rule of editing: don’t hire someone to do what they aren’t strong at. For the first issue I had hopes of getting some kind of arresting conceptual image that said “No more guys!” The horrible example I kept using was a men’s room and a ladies room with the men’s symbol scratched out. Obviously, that wouldn’t make a very good cover, but I knew we had a chance for an incredibly iconic image that would make a splash in its own right. Unfortunately, those are really, really hard to come up with! JG is an incredible artist and illustrator but he isn’t Saul Bass — and neither was anyone else who was brainstorming the cover. After a lot of back and forth and rejected cover ideas, we were really getting short on time, and JG took a picture of himself in a straight jacket and used it as the basis of the cover we now all know so well. The irony being, of course, that it HAS turned out to be an iconic cover of a classic book. I do laugh every time I see JG in that straight jacket, though — perhaps it was his own subconscious comment on all the sketches we made him do.

My other memory of the making of Y is me and Brian having a story meeting while going off to see David Blaine inside a block of ice. Since both Yorick and Brian have an interest in stage magic, we decided going to check out the latest Blaine pr stunt was a good form of research. That’s all there is to the story — it was just a fun afternoon!

I’m really proud to have done my part to bring Y The Last Man into existence. When I read in USA Today that Mary Gibbons the co-owner of Rocketship said “It’s the book I always give to readers when they’re just trying to get into comics,” I couldn’t be any happier. That has always always been my goal. That will always be my goal. Congratulations to Brian, Pia, Jose, Clem and Pam for having the amazing talent and perseverance to actually make it happen, and to create a book that people will be reading and talking about for a long time.

Comments

  1. It’s a shame that we won’t see you out here on the West Coast for the Last Party but this is a great send-off.

  2. Jonathan says:

    I’ll see that my plan to leave a comment reminding everyone that The Beat was in fact the day one editor won’t be needed. Hmmm, what should I say then….?

    Congrats?

  3. radtke says:

    fascinating read, Heidi.

  4. Thanks for the plug Heidi! It’s been a busy, emotional and grand 5 years! Interesting read, with some stuff I didn’t know… Now if I would get my comps and be able to enjoy all this though this *&%@# cold!

    Jose

  5. James Van Hise says:

    Never could get into this. I read the early trades and some issues after that but found it terribly slow moving and only occasionally interesting. I dropped it a couple years ago.

  6. timothycat says:

    The Beat has been nothing but classy in the Y the last man thingee. Me, I’d be pissed as hell! I hope some one from DC had the grace to apologize.

    Best,
    TimK

  7. “It was the twist that this was taking place in the REAL world and would deal with real life issues and not just the obvious sexual tensions that excited me.”

    This is a funny sentence. The ending is almost up there with, “Eats, shoots, and leaves,” for showing what a difference punctuation can make to meaning.

    I’m a big fan of “Y”, by the by. I just read the final issue, and Vaughan does a great job putting a cap on the whole thing. It was low key, yet emotional and satisfying. The bit above about the straight-jacket made me realize, too, how the (terrific) cover on the last issue brings everything around to the first. Great work all around.

  8. Kate Willaert says:

    “where all the men have died except him–and his monkey.”

    This has me suddenly imagining somebody doing a Y-themed Beatles parody song, “Everybody With A Y-Gene Have Died Except For Me And My Monkey.”

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Incase you didn’t catch it on CNN or MTV, the last Y The Last Man  this week hit this week. [...]

  2. [...] • Heidi MacDonald, the original editor of Y, recalls some memories of the series’ early days. [...]

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