My love affair with comics comes and goes. Part of it probably has to do with my lack of ability to commit to anything. But that’s for a different post and a few more hundreds of dollars worth of therapy.
The point is that I randomly picked up Brian K. Vaughan’s (aka: the genius who brought the world Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, The Runaways, of course, Saga, and so much more) Paper Girls in a Barnes and Noble in Tucson, Arizona of all places. The vibrant pink and blue illustration on the trade collection (done by Cliff Chiang) caught my eye.
I wanted it to be about a coming-of-age story about the four girls on the cover, but I knew there had to be a wrinkle. It turns out it is more of a Super 8 than anything else. And that’s a good thing.
The LA Times says that it’s a cross between Stand By Me and War of the Worlds, which is true. It’s a 1988 coming-of-age story (I got that much right) about a group of 12-year-old girls who have a paper route. But there is a dramatic left turn in this collection, which contains the first five issues of the comic, that sends this into a terrific sci-fi realm that many will love.
Thematically, the book strikes a chord with me. I always wanted to explore my own preteen years (baseball, 9/11, too many moves across the country) and am usually drawn to these types of stories. Our main character, Erin, is shy but kick-ass. She worries about fitting in like most kids that age but doesn’t let it consume her. Erin meets three other paper girls.
There’s Mac – MacKenzie – “the first paperboy around here who wasn’t a… you know.” She smokes, is known to the cops, has trouble in her family. She’s the leader and seemingly has the most to lose. Following up the ranks are Tiffany and KJ. They’re a dynamic duo who have interesting characteristics but are clearly being lined up to be developed further down the road.
What is most appealing is Vaughan’s ability to balance the coming-of-age development alongside the sci-fi plot without giving too much to either side. It would be easy to forget that they’re 12-year-old girls when (slight spoiler) there are some sort of aliens around. But in the midst of all of the havoc, the writing still holds a sense of earnest to it.
Chiang’s illustrations and Matt Wilson’s colors are phenomenal. Everything is in these intriguing pastels that feel so ‘80s, but they are muted and give the book this sense of griminess that makes it feel like a serious summer action flick from the late 1980s.
The trade collection is only $10, which is a steal. The next single issue comes out in June, so it would be wise to pick this amazing comic up now so you can eagerly wait for issue six of the best new comic out right now.