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CSBG Archive

Meta-Messages – Brian K. Vaughan Would Like to Tell You a Useless Factoid…

All October long I will be exploring the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator using the characters in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments! If you have a suggestion for a future meta-message, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com.

Today we look at the clever Ex Machina #40, where the book’s creators Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris appear in the comic pitching a comic book starring the main character of Ex Machina.

Ex Machina stars Mitchell Hundred, a former “superhero” who quits to run for Mayor of New York City, a position he wins after becoming a national hero on 9/11.

In #40, Hundred (who is a comic book fan) agrees to let DC Comics pitch him on a biographical comic book starring him.

Tony Harris and Brian K. Vaughan meet to pitch Hundred on the comic and Vaughan quickly mocks his penchant for including “factoids” into pretty much every issue of Y the Last Man and Ex Machina…

Very clever.

Later, while they’re waiting in the hallway to see the Mayor, Vaughan metas with the best of them…


And after the Mayor mistakes Vaughan for Brian BENDIS, the two meet and discuss Vaughan’s work…

Really well done.

I won’t spoil who Mayor Hundred eventually decides on to write and draw his comic, except to note that they are both major names. Pick up Volume 9 of Ex Machina, titled “Ring Out the Old” to find out who got the job!


Yeah, when I read the credits on the final page, I laughed really hard.

Great self-deprecating humor by BKV.

probably one of my favorite one-shots in the series. (the others being the ones that JP Leon drew) I think the whole issue is a fantastic commentary on the comic book scene in general. Classy stuff, and one of my favorite series.

Hahaha, Tony Harris “sketching.” Vaughan should have had Harris taking endless pages of photo reference instead. (That’s just some random snark, I really do think Harris is a great, unique artist.)

I’ve owned this issue for years, and this is the first time I ever realized that Brian K. Vaughan dressed like the Frank Miller Spirit.

Dammit, this is going to make me rant about the incorrect use of the word factoid….

Look it up people, it’s not what you think it is.

It’s the most common use of the word and appears in dictionaries as a valid usage (it appears as the first definition of factoid on dictionary.com, followed by its intended meaning by Mailer).


Perfect irony. Thank you, Cass.

Anyway, I miss this series to death and am anxiously awaiting Vaughan’s next big project.

So, does he make Brian’s nose smaller in the last panel or not? Can’t quite tell.

Roman, you do realise that not ALL comic artists use photoreferencing in the same way that people like Greg Land do, right? The first volume of Ex Machina had a great feature in the back displaying that Harris employed his friends and others to pose for photographs that he took and then worked on. That’s a little different than Land using well-known photoshoot images of famous celebrities, especially since Harris still works on putting his own style into the pencils.

@ Nick

Considering the last panel of BKV on that page is a ‘stat of the first panel, I’m guessing not.

Vaughn’s comment on the ‘Grant Morrison “meta” thing’ is even funnier to me since he’s apparently copped Grant’s look. :p

Haha, it would be funny if from that panel on Brian were drawn with a “marvel style” girly nose…

Mychael Darklighter

July 29, 2012 at 10:41 pm

“It’s the most common use of the word…”

it annoys me that if enough people get something wrong, for long enough, it becomes ‘right’.
doesn’t anyone care? well, i do, so THANK YOU, OZ!

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