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What would the world be like without men? Comic book writer Brian Vaughan posed the question in his soon-to-end comic book series, Y: The Last Man, and tells us why it would be better than living without women

Imagine that the only chance the human race has of surviving is a wise-cracking escape artist, his pet monkey, a lesbian geneticist with relationship issues, and a black double agent deadlier than Bond. All this in a world where the entire population of men--save for Yorick Brown, the last man on Earth--have died from a mysterious plague.

Throw in some religious fanatics, plenty of humor, pathos, a love story worthy of a chick flick, killer cliffhangers, and you have what comic book writer/creator Brian K. Vaughan calls a "feel-good postapocalyptic series." That comic series, Y: The Last Man, will be ending its five-year run on January 2 with issue number 60.

Call it hip. Chic. Social commentary. Sci-fi. Women's-lib lit. A comedic tragedy. At its most frenetic and challenging, Vaughan's monthly comic book is a little of all these things. Born from a sci-fi staple sprinkled gingerly with post-9/11 angst, Vaughan, with artist and cocreator Pia Guerra, has realized a unique vision of the ultimate "what if?" tale. Over the past five years, our hero, Yorick, has grown from boy to man in a world run entirely by women. Some people think he's a myth; others want him dead. But if the scenario was reversed (one woman in a world of men), Vaughan doesn't believe existence could have lasted as long as it has in Y.

"If all the women had died, I don't think there would be a society one year later," Vaughan says. "I think pretty quickly the bombs would start flying as people made accusations about who caused it. Yes, the world would be much worse off."

Vaughan had just started writing Y when from the roof of his apartment he watched the Twin Towers fall. "That day had a profound effect on the tone of the series. I think the way that we dealt with our fear, anger, and frustration was humor," says Vaughan. "You can't have horror without humor. There's always that balance."

Vaughan hopes to end the series it as explosively as he started. He's currently writing the film adaptation of the comic for New Line Cinema.

"It's difficult. There are days when I'm certainly excited. It's been this five-year journey, and part of me wants to desperately reach the finish line. And there are other days where it's kind of heartbreaking to think that it really is going to have this definitive ending and these characters that I've spent nearly every day with for years are going to be gone."

Vaughan has never shied away from exploring a wide range of characters, both straight and gay. But he rather his characters not be defined by whom they sleep with.

"Certainly, I have many friends who happen to be gay, and I'm sure that's helped inform my writing, [but] I think my imagination has always been a better guide than trying to pilfer from the real world," he says. "All writing is putting yourself in other people's shoes and sitting at the typewriter and making up lies until it starts to sound like the truth. That's what I've always done, whether it's a straight character, a gay character, a man, a woman, a plant, whatever."

When he's not writing comics, Vaughan serves as an executive story editor on the TV show Lost.

"I wouldn't necessarily rule out that you haven't seen a gay character on the show yet, (but) I think just like Dr. Mann (Y's queer geneticist), it was years before it was even brought up that she happened to be gay. I didn't want that to become her entire identity," says Vaughan. "So I would say that the possibility exists that yes, characters you've already seen happen to be gay. Stay tuned."

The 31-year-old Vaughan is part of a new generation of comic book writers who are following in the footsteps of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Frank Miller. Born in Cleveland, Vaughan earned a degree in film and dramatic writing at New York University, where a special class on comic-book writing opened up his first opportunities in the field.

Even with a recent relocation to California, Lost, and the film adaptation of Y, Vaughan doesn't plan on abandoning the medium that made his career. He says, "I'll always be first and foremost a comic book writer."

To read the first issue of Y: The Last Man, visit www.vertigocomics.com, or Brian K. Vaughan's website at www.bkv.tv.

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