Paper Girls (Entire Series)
August 2, 2019 1:24 PM - by Brian K Vaughan - Subscribe

In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this critically acclaimed story about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood. Covering issues 1 - 30. Words by Brian K Vaughan, art by Cliff Chiang, colors by Matt Wilson.
posted by dinty_moore (3 comments total)

I really love this comic and am both glad that it's ending at a sensible length and sorry to see it go.

* I love that the character designs look like 12 year-old girls from the eighties, are distinct enough that there's never any question about who is who - even as we're dealing with clones or characters at different ages.

*It did get progressively more difficult to follow what was happening issue to issue as time went on - after the last hiatus, I couldn't remember why the kids were all in different time periods, so I went back and read the last volume. But then, when the next two issues came out a month apart, I still couldn't remember what had happened in the previous few issues. I suspect a lot more people are waiting for the last volume to come out in September, and that might be the best way to read it.

*So, not really a surprise that a kids-on-bikes story involving time travel is about growing up, but I do think that this series is doing something slightly different than something like Stranger Things - there's this acknowledgement that maybe you don't turn out the way you'd imagined yourself when you're twelve. Maybe you don't grow up to be friends forever or an award winning journalist, and some people don't get to grow up at all. But also, maybe that's okay - because as a kid, you can have pretty shitty notions of what's acceptable and what's not (you might not grow up to be straight, you might grow up to be weirder than you thought, you might have to take xanax).

*I'm still trying to sort out my feelings series essentially ending with a reset. There's some signs of change - Mac's reactions to KJ, for example, and Erin calling the group back together at the end. But there's no reason to believe that Mac's going to live past 1992, and they don't remember anything that happened. Generally, I hate stories that end with no change (it feels like there's no point to them), but I think it might be okay in this situation. So much of the book was about whether or not it would be okay to change the past, and the eventual answer decides against it.

*The Wari and Jahpo part still seems incredibly weird to me. Like, more than usual comics weirdness.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:23 AM on August 4, 2019

I went back and reread the first two volumes right after posting the above comment, and it really did help clarify what they're going for in the finale:

1. Mac is so much more abrasive in issue 1 than she is in issue 30. I mean, she's always going to be a little abrasive, but I think she remembers enough of the shared dream and retained enough of her emotional growth that she's a lot less homophobic (and a lot more effective against teenagers).

2. 2016!Erin's one regret is being scared of reaching out and keeping in touch with other people. In issue 30, Erin changes all that by being the one to reach out (she's also willing to accept the cigarette).

3. The first thing that Tiffany does is turn off the video game console. Also, the first time around her parents made her quit the route, this time she makes the decision (the first time around I thought maybe she was misremembering. It seems like she might be jump starting her parental rebellion a little early.

Tiffany also mentions reporting a creepy station wagon in the first issue - Wari's been protecting Tiffany for some time, apparently.

4. The one that seems to change the least is KJ - at first I thought maybe she retained whatever boldness she might have gained through her actions during the series, but turns out that she started out pretty damn bold and reckless (she brought along the gun after the rest of the group decided it was too dangerous). If she just sort of woke up knowing she was attracted to girls - well, it's not like that revelation sat badly with her in the first place.

We only meet one instance of an older KJ (a clone) - the least of everyone besides Mac. And unlike 2016!Erin and 2000!Tiffany, we don't really get a volume to spend with 40ish KJ or even get a sense of what KJ does with her life. Jahpo mentions that killing someone when you're twelve kinda fucks you up after a while, but we don't know if he has some special KJ knowledge or if it's based on his own experiences. I don't know what to make of her, except as someone who doesn't seem to have the same self-doubt and anxiety as the other paper girls.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:03 PM on August 4, 2019

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