As a kid, Brian K. Vaughan would hop on his bike and pedal 10 miles to the comic-book store every Wednesday afternoon to pore over the latest issues of Hellblazer and Swamp Thing.
Good thing he did. Those days in the shop's aisles planted a seed in the mind of the self-proclaimed nerd: He eventually wrote a storyboard proposal and sent it off to DC Comics. Their adult imprint, Vertigo, bought it, and Vaughan began work on Y: The Last Man, a 60-issue series (number 17 is now in stores) inspired by his pubescent days at St. Bernadette's School in Westlake. "I used to fantasize that the cute redhead would fall in love with me, if only every other boy in the class would drop dead," says the 27-year-old writer, who now lives in San Diego, but returns this week for an appearance at Carol & John's Comic Shop at Kamm's Corners.
Y (which is illustrated and inked by some of the biggest names in the industry) begins in the summer of 2002, when a mysterious plague wipes out every organism carrying the Y chromosome, except for amateur escape artist Yorick Brown and his pet monkey. It's a common male fantasy, Vaughan says, that really would be quite a nightmare. Mindful of being the only man in this new world order, Yorick sets out on a continent-spanning quest to track down his missing girlfriend.
Vaughan says part of the Yorick character is based on his younger self. "[He's] probably a bit like me five or six years ago: a mildly annoying, self-righteous dude who thinks he knows everything."
That also describes the hotshots at New Line Cinema, who have secured the rights to the series (which was named Best New Comic at the 2003 National Comics Awards) and plan to produce a big-screen version. "I'm a Hollywood sellout," admits Vaughan. "Though I think my poor mom wishes that I wouldn't swear so much in my books."