Welcome to Best Comic I Read, a column where I talk about the best comic I’ve read each week. It doesn’t have to have actually come out this week. It doesn’t have to be any particular format. The comic just has to be good. “Best” is subjective to be sure, but this is why I love what I’m reading.
This past week, the best book I read was Paper Girls Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson. I’ve actually had a couple of people ask me if a series about a bunch of girls delivering newspapers is good. The series has won two 2016 Eisners (Best New Series and Best Penciller/Inker). Series inker Matt Wilson won Best Colorist 2017 for work including Paper Girls. Oh, and it’s not actually about them delivering papers, but about them being tossed through time. So yeah, it’s good.
It’s actually kind of comparable to Stranger Things in that it’s a group of 80’s kids getting caught up in a sci-fi nightmare. Paper Girls leans a little less on horror than Stranger Things. Each volume focuses on the girls’ trips through particular eras, first the 80’s then the present. In this volume, the focus is on prehistoric times as they try to find their lost friends and protect a cavewoman’s baby.
And then there’s the incorporation of Apple in the series. Apple invents time travel because of course, they do. Apple devices show up throughout the series, causing as many issues as solving them. Time travel tampers with God’s will, like the Apple in revelations the company takes its name from. They brought us knowledge. Here, finally comes the pain. A scientist spends what she thinks are her last moments recanting to a God she claimed she didn’t believe in.
We don’t get an entirely satisfying ending as we get a cliffhanger that leads right into the next volume. It’s no surprise though since we’ve gotten a cliffhanger in every previous volume. It’s building up to something, there are just no clues about what it is yet. It’s a shame that we have to wait until next April to get the next bit. But good things come…
Chiang is one of the best artists in comics right now with some of the best facial expressions I’ve ever seen. The whole reason I started picking this book up was because of Chiang’s art. I was a big fan of his run on Wonder Woman and wanted to see what he’d do next. He manages to make these kids look like kids and that’s something a lot of comic artists can’t do. Most just make them seem like tiny adults.
Brian K. Vaughan is also one of the best writers in comics, he’s also currently doing Saga, which chances are, you’ve heard how great it is. Whatever he writes he nails. A large part of that success is that he shows the smallest parts of humanity in the highest concepts. He nails how to write these teen girls, despite the fact that he couldn’t be farther from that.
The thing is…we shouldn’t have to celebrate that. I mean, it’s not a problem unique to comics, but one I see more in this medium than say novels or TV. Writers should be able to write everything not just that what’s familiar, but too many can’t.
Those feelings aside, Paper Girls is a great series through and through. I’m not sure where it’s going, but I feel like the payoff will be worth it. It always is with Vaughan, and even if it’s not, I’m reading it more for the art.