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Graphic Novel Review: Paper Girls, Vol. 1 – Brian K. Vaughn (writer), Cliff Chiang (artist)

A coming of age story rooted in the 80s and set among BKV’s bizarre-yet-beautiful science fiction backdrops.

*Note*: I had heard a while ago that Paper Girls would become a TV series, but assumed it was stuck in development. What a surprise to find that Paper Girls artist Cliff Chiang posted a teaser trailer for the series this past Saturday! No spoilers in the trailer, so feel free to take a look!

Paper Girls is a series I went ahead and picked up shortly after it began while a couple of other graphic novels/comics I was reading went on hiatus. I was already a fan of Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga and Pride of Baghdad, so I hoped I’d enjoy Paper Girls just as much, and was thrilled to begin reading a Brian K. Vaughn series as it launched.

Vaughn has written a coming-of-age story based on four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls in the year 1988. The day after Halloween, they meet up on the streets of Cleveland, OH while delivering their papers, banding together for protection against the teenagers still wandering around their neighborhood wreaking Halloween havoc in the early hours of November 1st. From here, things go surreal in a very Brian K. Vaughn sort of way–grounded in reality, with characters reacting to things realistically without suddenly gaining a bunch of mystic powers, but with an otherworldly influence at the center of everything. Like most of his graphic novel first volumes, the plot seems to be heading in one neatly predictable direction but swerves at the last minute to a bizarre cliffhanger that will make you want to run and grab the next issue immediately.

Initially, I wasn’t so sure about artist Cliff Chiang’s style, but I quickly grew to love it! His colors are bold and bright and sort of otherworldly, which was offputting at the beginning of the book when it seems like we’re just following a bunch of preteen girls around the 1980s, but as the sci-fi elements are introduced, Chiang’s style really begins to shine. Backgrounds are often somewhat monochromatic, allowing the characters to stand out, which complements Vaughn’s apparent writing theme of “humans react the same and face the same core issues no matter what on earth is exploding or otherwise happening behind them.”

Paper Girls clearly sets itself up to be a fantastic coming-of-age story, and at only 6 trade paperback volumes (or two deluxe volumes, or one omnibus–there are a lot of options here!) it’s a fairly short comic run you can read over just a few days. Take a read before the TV series comes out, especially if you love any of Vaughn’s other work! It’s absolutely worth it.

Disclaimer: I bought the physical copy of Paper Girls, Vol. 1 (trade paperback) myself for my own personal use and am absolutely psyched that the TV series is coming out soon. I was not paid for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Title: Paper Girls, Vol. 1 (trade paperback edition)
Author: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Publication Date: 05 April 2016
Print Length: 144 pages
Marie’s Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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