A Saga of Sisterhood in Brian K. Vaughan's Paper Girls

by Vince Brusio

If you lived in the 80s, do you remember those days well enough to tell a story? Not in a clichéd way that would feature the cast from a John Hughes movie, but in a way that would resonate with those who were THERE, as well as with those that appreciate the décor. Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang have done this with Paper Girls #1 (AUG150476), and in this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview, both creators elaborate on the homework that went into their new series.

Paper Girls #1 (AUG150476) is in comic shops October 7.

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PREVIEWSworld: Without spoiling the story for readers, what more can you say about this comic beyond what PREVIEWS spells out in the August issue? Stand By Me and War of the Worlds is quite a Molotov cocktail to swallow. Any further insight possible?

Cliff Chiang: I wish I could! We live in a world that gives everything away in movie trailers, but I'd love to keep the book a little mysterious until people can read it for themselves.

Brian K. Vaughan: Well, like Stand By Me, this is a story about 12-year-old kids, but it’s made by and for more mature readers.  And like War of the Worlds, our story involves something extraordinary happening to a very ordinary town.  But by the end of our first issue, I think it will be readily apparent that this is a very different story from even the ones that helped inspire us.

PREVIEWSworld: The characters in the story: from where did you draw inspiration when you conceived of their personalities?

Cliff Chiang: Brian nailed all of their personalities so clearly in the script, so the real challenge for me was to find the right visual cues for the girls themselves. I wanted them to feel authentic, not like a retro-80's comedy like The Wedding Singer, and avoid obvious clichés like putting the jock character in a baseball cap. In 1988, I was only slightly older than the girls themselves so I had a lot of memories and friends to use as inspiration. By the time I was finished with the designs, I felt like I really knew the characters.

Brian K. Vaughan: They’re primarily inspired by close friends and family members, but Cliff and I also spent a lot of time talking about what makes ideal quartets, everything from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Sex in the City.

PREVIEWSworld: So if you had the opportunity to “geek out” over a specific scene in the story, what would that scene be, and why are you fond of it?

Cliff Chiang: I really loved drawing the scene we showed in the preview, actually. I remember being 12 and so wary of older teenagers. When you're younger, there's something unpredictable and almost feral about the behavior of teen boys. I wanted to bring that sense of danger to the scene, which is so important to the girls' first meeting.

Brian K. Vaughan: I love the opening sequence because it was directly inspired by a discussion that Cliff and I had about the Challenger disaster and other tragedies we witnessed during our surreal sci-fi childhoods in the 1980s.

PREVIEWSworld: If you adapted this story to the big or small screen (as a lot of comic properties are doing these days), what would be an appropriate music soundtrack for Paper Girls?

Cliff Chiang: "Love at Absolute Zero" by My Favorite.

Brian K. Vaughan: One pick for each Paper Girl (though you’ll have to guess who likes what): “My City Was Gone” by the Pretenders, “And She Was” by the Talking Heads, “Gangsta Gangsta” by N.W.A., and the score to “The Untouchables” by Ennio Morricone.  

PREVIEWSworld: What last words would you like to say about Paper Girls that would help readers take heed, and make sure they put it on their pull list?

Cliff Chiang: This is a very personal book for us, drawing on our childhoods as it does. It's a chance to create some of the adventure stories we loved reading and watching as kids, but as with all of Brian's books, not everything is as it seems. There are twists, surprises, and multiple layers to it. It's quite unlike anything we've done previously, and I'm having a blast working on it.

Brian K. Vaughan: It’s so beautiful!  Our colorist Matt Wilson and letterer Jared Fletcher have totally outdone themselves.  I am so proud of this story, and I don’t think it’s one that Cliff and I could tell in any other medium, so we’re enormously grateful to all the comic readers out there who are willing to embrace the mystery and check out our double-sized first issue, a steal at only $2.99!      

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