In July, Deadline announced that Amazon would be working with Legendary Entertainment and Plan B to bring the hit comic series, Paper Girls, to its streaming service. Following the incredible success of The Boys on Amazon Prime and seeing the undeniable popularity of nostalgia-fest, Stranger Things, on competitive streaming site, Netflix, it's no surprise that Amazon Studios fought tooth and nail to get their hands on this '80s-infused series with four young girls at the center of the bizarre sci-fi mystery.
While we wait on tenterhooks to hear more about the adaptation of the beloved comics, let's take a look at everything you need to know about Paper Girls.
Created by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, with beautiful colors by Matt Wilson and eye-catching lettering by Jared K. Fletcher, Paper Girls first hit comic shelves in the fall of 2015. The blend of Vaughan's recognizable affection for creating character-driven stories with Chiang's enchanting artwork made the series an instant success, winning numerous Eisner Awards and receiving rave reviews from fans and critics alike.
Adapting a fan-favorite work is no easy task, but the show is in safe hands as Toy Story 4 co-writer, Stephany Folsom, will be the driving force behind the scripts, with Vaughan onboard acting as executive producer.
Vaughan is well-known for his complex, fully-realized characters and Paper Girls is no exception. The series sees four twelve-year-old newspaper delivery girls get sucked into a larger-than-life adventure spanning time and space. While the action and plot twists are jaw-dropping, it's the girls who carry the weight of the series.
Erin dreams of space exploration and hates breaking the rules, Mac is the foul-mouthed chain smoker who isn't afraid of getting her hands dirty, KJ is the smart one and a passionate field hockey player, and Tiffany is the hard-working tech nerd. Each girl has their own distinct personality, making them an unstoppable team when they work together.
While Paper Girls might be rooted in the '80s, with the story beginning in the early hours of November 1, 1988, the comic isn't bound to one particular point in time. As the girls become entangled in a mind-boggling intergenerational war, they find themselves quickly jumping through time, providing the opportunity to explore almost any setting.
The issues are filled with cosmic portals and peculiar looking time machines that would make The Doctor jealous. Not only does this allow for near limitless time-hopping fun, but it also forces the four girls, on the cusp of adulthood, to confront their futures head-on.
Finding themselves stuck in the midst of a war centered around whether or not time-travel should be used to alter the past, the girls encounter characters from both sides of the fight. The Old-Timers are a militant group led by a man known as the Grand Father. The first generation to live with time-travel technology, they are staunch believers in sticking to the rules in an effort to protect the original timeline.
Battling against them are the Teenagers, descendants of the Old-Timers, who believe history can be changed and aren't afraid to interact with those they meet during their travels, causing countless difficulties for the time-preserving Old-Timers!
Paper Girls often draws comparisons to Stranger Things, and this is no doubt due to the bike-riding heroines at the heart of the story and the nods to '80s pop-culture. But unlike Stranger Things, where adults play a large role in solving the mysteries and saving the day, Paper Girls is all about the kids.
In fact, adults are largely missing from the story, with many of them vanishing suddenly, and those who the kids do meet aren't helpful or place them in direct danger. There are only a couple of exceptions to this rule as the girls encounter their adult selves, and even then, it's hard to know who to trust.
Beneath the various sci-fi elements of the series lies an utterly compelling mystery. Vaughan and Chiang clearly enjoy weaving various clues together to keep the reader guessing right up until the end (the series concluded with issue #30 in July 2019).
It's never fully clear who the good guys are, making it difficult to trust anyone the girls meet – even if they seem familiar. The plot twists rapidly, never allowing the reader to get comfortable in one place (or time) for too long before quickly pushing the story along. We can't wait to see how these unusual turns unfold on screen!
What would a story set in the '80s be without nods to the era? But beneath the film and music references lies some more telling allusions to the decade's darker side. Vaughan wanted to directly represent a broader view of the time, highlighting how unpleasant it was to be deemed an 'other' in the '80s. Not shying away from cruel slurs or political sentiment, Paper Girls bypasses nostalgia for a look at how far we've come, and how far we've yet to go.
The series doesn't just look backward with its references. With some of the action taking place in 2016 and beyond, technology is put under the microscope, especially when the girls find a peculiar device emblazoned with an apple...
Many kids-own-adventure stories tend to focus on childhood innocence, more often than not lamenting its ultimate loss. Paper Girls, on the other hand, forces the children to grow up as they confront obstacles much larger than themselves.
With time itself hanging in the balance, the girls are faced with numerous difficult decisions. While there is still a hint of childish recklessness in their actions, the girls all mature as the story progresses, stepping up to each task ahead of them as a team. Childhood experiences aren't glorified or mourned in Paper Girls but acknowledged as a difficult, uncomfortable period where we just want to fit in and do our best.
No science-fiction epic is complete without a horde of monsters to battle, and Paper Girls is bursting with them! As if getting caught in the middle of a time-travel war wasn't enough for our protagonists, they encounter countless horrifying beasts from across time. Giant pterodactyls sore across the sky, while enormous carnivorous tardigrades have the potential to flatten cities.
Perhaps most terrifying of all is the Editrix, a floating green blob with cube eyes fitted with lasers, capable of literally making your life flash before your eyes as it chokes you with one of its many long tentacles.
Instead of acting as a celebration of the '80s, Paper Girls encourages us to question our rose-tinted view of the era. While it's packed with pop-culture references and has a clear fondness for the decade, the time-traveling adventure forces our protagonists (and, consequently, us) to explore the problems with gazing backward instead of forward by challenging nostalgia.
In one scene, as Tiffany battles the Editrix, the months she spent playing Arkanoid on the NES flashes before her eyes. Instead of fondly remembering the hours of gameplay, she sees it as time wasted. While media is currently saturated with fond celebrations of the 1980s, Paper Girls provides a refreshing twist on nostalgia, and we can't wait to see how it translates on television!