FemiNerd Files: “Paper Girls” review by Leigh Gonzales
This comic is very bizzaro! Lots of weird elements and plot twists with no real answers yet. The story is interesting and intriguing so I want to continue to read it to find out what’s going on, but it still feels a bit confusing and frustrating by the end of volume 1.
The story feels like a combination of the Goonies, Stand by Me, the Time Machine, the War of the Worlds, the Bible (armageddon), and the Apocalypse. The Monster Squad is also referenced in a poster on Erin’s bedroom wall.
The artwork has an 80’s feel to it with bright/bold/vibrant colors (neon) and stark contrast of light/dark. It reminds me of Jem and Moonbeam City.
I like the diversity throughout the story/characters. There’s different gender roles, ethnicities, body types, and sexulaities.
I like that it is the same writer of SAGA, Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, and the Runaways. I also like that the artist worked on Wonder Woman. I would have liked to have seen more female contributors.
Erin and Mac stand out the most for me. I really like Erin. She is the “newbie,” but she continuously stands her ground and is a leader. She is very smart and brave. I want to like Mac, but I don’t. I do like that she is a “tomboy” and more of a lone wolf type characters. She is the first “paper girl” of their neighborhood and she doesn’t take shit from anyone, not even the police. She’s not afraid of a fight. What I don’t like about her is she’s more impulsive and acts out in anger first. She is such a rebel, but she’s also very closed minded/negative. She acts like an ass often and gets called out for it by the other girls throughout the story. However, she is cautious and asks the questions no one else would and perhaps should (example: “Are we going to trust these 2 perverts and just follow them into the woods?”).
I liked all the pop culture references and the correlations between 1988 and today.
Newspaper with a headline about peace talks failing in Iran/Iraq.
Mac calling a guy a faggot and an aids patient.
Mac being the first paper girl and Erin being the first altar girl in their area.
Newspapers as the main source of news and being delivered by kids on bikes.
Bush Sr. as president and we had W. Bush as president as well.
*Today we still have issues with homophobia, AIDS, Iran/Iraq, women’s equality, the environment (newspapers were not good for environment).*
What the hell is going on?
Why are people disappearing?
Are they still on Earth or have they been transported (new space-like sky outside)?
Have they opened a portal to a different dimension?
Have they time travelled or dimension travelled?
Is this an alien invasion?
Is this one of Erin’s dreams/nightmares?
What does the apple represent? Bible and creation story: Knowledge of good/evil and the fall of humankind to sin? Apple Inc. products with apple logo (“empire” or “establishment” corporation)? Mackenzie goes by “Mac?” Old stereotypical “god-like” man in charge with apple records logo on his T-Shirt and a steampunk looking apple telephone? Also, white armored “angel-like” people he rules over?
Languages/Human forms: The paper girls seem like usual teenagers of the 80’s. They speak English in a way that we (the reader) understand/relate to. The white armored people seem to speak more of a jargon with broken English. The deformed teenagers in black hooded dress speak an alien/foreign language. They need a digital translator mechanism for each group to communicate with each other. It seems like either 3 different dimensions or time frames for these different characters. It almost feels like how technology advances so much in the future that spoken language starts to become unnecessary and starts to break down into jargon. Then there’s that social fear that eventually technology will take over the world and then we’ll keep destroying our planet until our species starts to die off and perhaps become extinct so that the world can start over and regenerate life again. That could be a reason why we’re seeing these terradactyl-like dinosaurs in the sky again. It also almost feels like the deformed teenagers are in that world/species deterioration time where their bodies are failing them and the language becomes something different entirely. When each group tries to communicate with each other without the translator, it also reminds me of the story of the Tower of Babel where God didn’t want humans to build a structure tall enough to reach the heavens so he curses them with different tongues (languages) so they can no longer communicate with each other in order to work together to continue building the structure. It feels like in this story we’re no longer working together as humans and are fighting each other to survive the apocalypse or armageddon.
MOST INTERESTING PARTS (FOR ME):
The nightmare at the beginning was a good example of how our subconscious can mix/twist our daily fears/anxieties into a dream. Erin’s dream included:
A fear of the unknown and religion: What happens when we die? Is there a heaven and will I go there? Is there a hell and will I or my loved ones go there? Does being smart and interested in science or having “bad” behavior (like swearing) make me a sinner? Will I be punished for these?
Influential current events: The Challenger space shuttle exploding.
Everyday anxieties: Taking a test at school and not knowing the right answer(s). Being a good big sister and protecting her little sister from danger.
*Put all of these together and you get a terrifying result!*
Another part I liked was when the multi-eyed floating monster tries to strangle Tiffany and her life flashes before her eyes. It ends up being just a sequence of panels of her playing the same video game everyday. She is very disturbed by this after she is saved because she realizes how much time in her life she wasted on nothing important.