Why It’s Time to Add Paper Girls to Your Pull List

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Imagine you took a group of girls with the camaraderie of the Lumberjanes, but you handed them a carton of cigarettes, a gun, and sprinkled in a good amount of teenage edge and profanity. OK, so that would end up being nothing like the Lumberjanes, but this mix comes pretty close to describing Brian K. Vaughan’s latest comic, Paper Girls. With hugely successful books like Saga and Y: The Last Man among his credits, it’s starting to seem like Vaughan can do no wrong. And judging from issues #1-3, it’s looking like we can add Paper Girls to his list of successes. Image Comics describes their new release as “Stand by Me meets War of the Worlds,” and to be honest, it’s a pretty apt description. Throw in one part JJ Abrams’ Super 8, and you’ll start to pick up on the vibe of Vaughan’s latest work.

Throughout the titles Vaughan has been involved with, you can see a trend of strong female characters (my personal favorite is the ass-kicking Agent 355 in Y: The Last Man). Paper Girls centers around four twelve-year-old girls delivering newspapers in the small town of Stony Stream, Ohio. It’s Halloween, 1988, which is why we can actually find a story based around kids delivering newspapers at 4:30 in the morning believable (between this and We Can Never Go Home, is it too early to say we may be seeing a trend of comics set in the ’80s?). Cliff Chiang’s art hints at the time period without hitting readers over the head with it—a poster for The Monster Squad, a Far Side calendar, a walkman.

Our girl gang is made up of Erin, Mac, KJ, and Tiffany. Erin is the main character (so far), as we’ve seen the story from her perspective and had a look at some of her inner-thoughts. Erin is the newest member of the paper girls’ crew, joining up with them the morning the story begins. The first few issues have also given us a look at tough-girl Mac’s family life and background. So far, KJ and Tiffany haven’t had quite as much character development, but remember, we’re only on issue three.

That brings us to one of the most impressive (and fun) parts of Paper Girls; only three issues in, we’ve already seen a number of otherworldly, unexplained events unfold. One of the things that consistently makes Vaughan’s work so readable and interesting is that he wastes no time throwing readers into the action. We don’t get a ton of background about our characters; there’s no origin story here. Instead, we learn about them as we go, giving the story a more natural, organic feel.

Without too many spoilers, in the first three issues, the girls have witnessed a number of unexplainable events (people disappearing, bright lights in the sky, and strange looking attackers). We don’t know yet who or what is causing this, who’s friend or foe, or what will happen next. The girls have been trying to figure out what is happening, and they’ve already made a lot of guesses. Aliens? Monsters? Time-travelers? Russians? (Remember, it’s 1988.)

Vaughan’s past work has had a talent for pulling in new comic book readers (I’ve seen Saga listed as “the comic book for people who don’t read comic books” more times than I can count), and Paper Girls could easily become another crossover work. Issues #1-3 are out now, with issue #4 arriving on January 6, so make sure to add Paper Girls to your pull list now.

(image via Image Comics)

Daryl Sztuka is a writer living outside Boston with her husband. You can find her reading comics, listening to records way too loud, and having intense staring matches with her cat, Agent Scully. Follow her on Instagram @girlseeksband and Twitter @girlseeksband.

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