Career-best artwork from Cliff Chiang and a unpredictable script make Paper Girls a hit
Paper Girls takes the kidsmeet-aliens aesthetic of ’80s movies like ET and Flight Of The Navigator (and recent homages like Super 8 and Earth To Echo) and turns it inside out and upside down.
You’ll find career-best artwork from Cliff Chiang, mixing elements of Art Adams and Michael Allred and making visual storytelling look effortlessly easy. The colouring by Matt Wilson takes a little adjusting to, using as it does a palette reminiscent of an aerobics instructor’s leotard collection, but it’s era-appropriate and candy-beautiful.
Our protagonist, Erin Tieng, is 12 years old and starting her first day bike-delivering the Cleveland Preserver in her Ohio hometown. She soon falls in with fellow paper girls KJ, Tiffany and rough, tough local legend Mac. But it isn’t just neighbourhood bullies or intolerant cops the four have to worry about. After discovering a weird, organic spaceship-like machine in a basement, they become embroiled in a conflict between opposing otherworldly factions, one deformedlooking and clad in rags, the other tech-armed and angelic. But which side should they trust?
If you think you know where the story is headed, you’re wrong. As ever with a Brian K Vaughan script, expectations are overturned. The guy delights in wrong-footing readers, and readers should be glad to be wrongfooted so delightfully. In this initial fiveissue arc you’ll find time travellers, giant pterodactyl-like monster steeds, and a mysterious recurring apple motif that embraces the Garden of Eden, The Beatles and Steve Jobs and a whole lot more besides.
The sci-fi touches are well thought through and sometimes sublime. For instance, the English-variant language one of the alien factions speaks, a fusion of Shakespeare and Nadsat. Issue 5’s ending is as time-twisty as anything in the Back To The Future trilogy and will leave you impatient to learn what comes next.
Paper Girls is about the coolness of being in a gang and the confusion of being on the cusp of teenhood. Ra ting
Vaughan doesn’t push period detail hard: instead going for gentle references to Asteroids, and politicians such as Reagan and Michael Dukakis.
One person is deformed-looking and clad in rags, the other, tech-armed and angelic. Who to trust?