You will walk into your comic shop this week, browsing the new books a cover will catch your eye. It is yellow and black, with a pink title. The comic will look like nothing else on the shelf. You will pick it up, maybe you will open the cover and see the first page and see a beautiful night’s sky. Or maybe you will just notice the team on the book and take it to the counter sight unseen. Possibly you will just smile to yourself because the book is FINALLY here, and it looks amazing. No matter what, if you see Paper Girls at your store and don’t go home with a copy you are doing new comic book day wrong. There is a lot to be said about Paper Girls, but let’s keep it simple for this issue. It is November 1st, 1988, and Erin is up at an ungodly hour to deliver newspapers. She runs into some jerk teens but is rescued by three other paper girls including Mac, the first paper boy who wasn’t a boy. Soon the four are working together to deliver papers and protect each other. But one of the girls gets attacked by three masked men who also steal her walkie talkie (it’s a Realistic TRC-218 CB with channel 14 crystals actually) and the girls go after the men. This leads to a weird discovery, an alteration to the sky itself, and more questions than answers.
The comic actually opens with a weird dream sequence involving an angelic astronaut and a demon. This should be disconcerting as it has nothing thus far to do with the rest of the issue plus it is pretty out there. But it just works. The weird things in the last fourth of the book also feels authentic. The characters remain grounded in reality while dealing with weirdness which allows the reader to gleefully follow along, just enjoying the story.
The characters feel fully fleshed out. Erin’s dream tells us a lot about her beliefs while also being a great visual hook. You can tell what she respects and admires, what motivates her, and what she is scared of. The brief page in her room gives us a look at her living situation, sleeping in a bunk bed with her little sister. And a little bit of what she likes, my favorite being the Monster Squad poster prominently placed on the wall.
Mac is equally developed but in a different fashion. Mac and the other girls get a full hero shot page for an introduction, with Mac front and enter, the only one speaking. She is in charge, takes no grief without giving it back tenfold, and is comfortable with herself. The way she interacts with the jerk teens shows off her strength, while her willingness to help Erin and her dialogue with the other girls shows off her true character.
While Erin and Mac dominate this issue, but the other two girls, KJ and Tiffany feel like actual characters fully developed and ready for more spotlight once it is available. Really the only characters who appear for more than a page who feel under characterized are the teens, but I can live with them just being random jerks in Halloween costumes.
Cliff Chiang knocks this book out of the park. His character work is amazing, everyone feels like a flesh and blood human being while still being in his darker stylized art. His backgrounds are wonderfully detailed while also feeling “sketchy”, probably due to the cross hatching he uses to illustrate shadow. Colorist Matt Wilson helps make this issue be beautiful too. All the colors just feel perfect, the dream sequence is otherworldly, and the paper route pages instantly feel like early morning all because of the background colors. It is something we really should give more credit to (especially with how gorgeous the colors are in the sky later in the book). You can tell Chiang, Wilson, and Vaughan are working cohesively to tell this story and it shows.
This comic is great. It looks amazing from the cover all the way through the back. The story is interesting and breezes by even though it is longer than a normal issue. Vaughan continues to write believable characters in unique worlds and leaves us on a cliffhanger that will have you demanding to know what happens next yet having it all feel organic. Paper Girls is a unique title and concept for an amazing book, which will soon become your new favorite.
Paper Girls #1 Writer: Brian K. Vaughan Artist: Cliff Chiang Colorist: Matt Wilson Letterer and Design: Jared K Fletcher Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 10/06/15 Format: Print/Digital