October 18th, 2021
By now, the idea of a shared universe (or a multiverse) is a commonly known one. Comic book companies like Marvel and DC dived into the concept that their characters did not live in a vacuum; they were neighbors, friends, lovers, and enemies, and they inhabited the same world, affecting one another just like we do in our own lives.
So I get regularly asked: do all of my books inhabit the same universe? The Vogenverse, if you will? (I just made that up, but it’s fun, right?)
I will say this: sometimes I have explicitly stated that two works are related, and other times heavily implied it. To help the inquisitive reader, I have broken down the connections by book, trying to avoid any spoilers.
Them + Us
This is where the Vogenverse began. According to the first line in the book, the present story takes place in 2011, though the timeline shifts over hundreds of years.
We know Kim is from a small, southern Minnesota town, but not until the sequel, Us, does Kim actually confirm she is from Faribault specifically, for the first time putting a name to my New York or Castle Rock.
Flip + Push
I wrote Flip between Them and Us, and I knew I wanted to give a wink to the series. During a dream in chapter 11, Liam says:
“Another is a cute redhead who’s my favorite employee at Dairy Queen.”
That redhead is Kim, thus confirming that Kim and Liam not only live in the same town, but that Liam actually knows Kim, or is at least aware of her. The name Faribault is not used in this series of books, but there are many, many references, especially in Push, including a scene where Liam and Regan walk the graveyard formally known as the Faribo West Mall, referencing at least three specific stores by name.
This book has the most explicit references to Faribault. Since the story takes place in 2020, that puts it almost a decade after the stories told in the Them and Flip series.
Ashley lives in Faribault, becomes the Flying Squirrel on the rooftops of downtown, and works for Green Comics, which is based in town. We meet Axis at her favorite fictional Faribault coffee shop, Helen of Chai, and she lives in an apartment above it.
Moe, who works at the Minnesota Zoo, lives in the south suburbs; you can see him at a church in Burnsville in a panel. However, the panel below that one has the Blue Ringer swinging from the bottom of the viaduct.
Das lives in space, duh. Though where he lived on Earth has not been revealed.
This book has the greatest possible connection to my other work, and not a single person has asked me about it.
There is a major twist halfway through the story that generally has thrown people for a loop in a really delightful way. I do very little to explain the twist, and intentionally; I don’t feel like the “why” is important to the story, and the reader can use their imagination to fill it in.
However: if you’ve read Us, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation to what is happening. Trust me. I can’t say it was intentional (the story for Theia already existed in me and I made the connection later), but that doesn’t make it any less plausible.
Though this graphic novel is still being created, some of its story elements have been revealed, including the fact that the wildlife in Brushfire live under Central Park in Faribault. There are references to and locations in the city abound.
And there you have it. There is a Vogenverse. (Name still pending, obvs.) I did not reveal all the connections here on purpose, because that’s part of the fun. I hope you’re able to make a few yourself.
And speaking of Them + Us: expect the Special Edition to be available very soon…