Friendship, Nostalgia, and Paper Delivery

Paper Girls Volume 1 by Brian K. VaughanPaper Girls Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang; Image Comics 2016

In recent years, many television shows and movies have been steeped in nostalgia for the 1980s, with one of the most popular example being the Netflix show Stranger Things. With the second season arriving on October 27th, there is no better time to start a comic book series that has often drawn comparisons to the show. While Stranger Things focuses on the friendship between four male friends, Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang tells the story of four female friends as their world becomes suddenly unrecognizable and they try to adjust to their new reality.

Paper Girls is set in Stony Stream, a fictional suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. It follows the story of four 12-year-old paper delivery girls, Erin, MacKenzie (who goes by Mac), KJ, and Tiffany. The story opens on the early hours of November 1st, 1988. Erin meets up with the rest of the girls after being harassed by some teenagers, still out from celebrating Halloween, and they begin delivering their route. Soon, it becomes evident that this day will not be a normal paper delivery. KJ and Tiffany are jumped by some what they presume to be teens dressed up as mummies, and they steal Tiffany’s walkie talkie. The girls search for these figures into an abandoned house to try to retrieve the walkie talkie. However, they are in for a surprise as they lift a sheet to find what appears to be a spaceship. KJ assumes that it is a prop that the teenagers who jumped them created, but when a bright light shocks the girls, it becomes clear that strange forces are in place. Time travel, possible alien abductions, and a sky full of pterodactyls are just some of the strange things that the girls face as the story progresses.

Paper Girls is an exciting, sci-fi filled adventure story. The four girls do not appear to have much in common at the outset of their adventure, but the strange events in their hometown bring them together and make fast friends.  Brian K. Vaughan sprinkles in elements of nostalgia and references to present day pop culture, but these references feel like they serve a purpose to forward the plot instead of feeling unnecessary or just for nostalgia’s sake. There is much left unanswered about what is causing the strange occurrences in the town, but Vaughan gives just enough information to keep the reader engaged in the story.  Cliff Chiang’s artwork is colorful and exciting. Because of some of the harsh language that Mac uses, this series is most likely best suited to older teens or adults. There are currently three collected volumes, with a fourth volume slated for an April 2018 release, while new issues of the comic come out monthly. Paper Girls is perfect for any fan of sci-fi or stories with strong female characters.

Elizabeth Weislak is the Youth Services Coordinator for Alamance County Public Libraries. She may be reached at eweislak@alamancelibraries.org