Get ready for an '80s time travel adventure with first look at the Paper Girls TV show
Ever seen a group of young male friends biking around and suddenly stumbling onto some scientific marvel or fantastical location that will change their lives forever? Of course you have. From the '80s heyday of The Goonies to modern-day homages like Stranger Things, young male coming-of-age stories sprinkled with sci-fi elements have proliferated across pop culture.
But when writer Brian K. Vaughan (Saga) and artist Cliff Chiang (Catwoman: Lonely City) launched their Paper Girls comic series in 2015 alongside colorist Matt Wilson and designer Jared K. Fletcher, they decided to change the formula. Paper Girls' protagonists are young women, originally from the '80s but soon thrown into a breathless time-travel adventure.
"Growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, there was one year when I was around 12, where all of the paper boys in our neighborhood were suddenly replaced by paper girls," Vaughan recalls. "I just thought it was so badass that these 12-year-old children were going out at 4 a.m. to deliver bad news to adults. It was just so interesting and captivating that they were newspaper delivery kids, sort of a dying breed, and yet they were the first of their kind. I thought, 'this is such an interesting group of young women. They would make a great heart of a story.' So it started with that inspiration and expanded from there."
That idea expanded into 30 issues of the Paper Girls comic, and now there is a Paper Girls TV adaptation on the way this July from Amazon Prime Video. You can check out exclusive first-look photos below.
When it comes to the diverse group of girls at the center of the story, Paper Girls stars Sofia Rosinsky as Mac Coyle, Camryn Jones as Tiffany Quilkin, Riley Lai Nelet as Erin Tieng, and Fina Strazza as K.J. Brandman — as well as Ali Wong as the adult version of Erin. After all, this is a time travel story!
After first meeting up in the early morning hours following Halloween 1988 (when there are still some costumed pranksters out and about, and therefore safety in numbers), the girls find a time machine that sends them into the present day, where they connect with their own future selves.
"The idea of them meeting themselves in the future just seemed so natural because a lot of time travel is so much about what could happen, what regrets you might have, and seeing how your future self turned out," Chiang says. "I don't know if anybody's turned out the way they thought they would 10 years ago. So for these girls who are just on the cusp of becoming teenagers and then adults, to see where your life ends up is a really cool thing. Having Ali Wong play older Erin is fantastic because we know her so much through her comedy, so then here to see her do something dramatic and a little bittersweet is a really fantastic showcase for her."
Chiang and Vaughan said they consciously built their foursome in the mold of icons like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or the Beatles, where each member represents a distinct personality archetype. Vaughan empathizes with Tiffany's video-game addiction, while Erin is particularly close to Chiang's heart.
"That character is really important to me," Chiang says. "To be able to tell a story featuring an Asian-American character that's not necessarily an immigrant story but a coming-of-age story... I kind of didn't realize how much I needed it until I was drawing it. Because of that, this project is really close to my heart and that character in particular is one of my favorites. Her kind of sweet nerdiness is something that I sympathize with deeply from growing up. Between Erin and Tiffany and, and K.J. and Mac, there's such a great diversity within the group of personalities. I think it's easy to find yourself in one of them, if not all of them."
Just as Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá serve as executive producers of The Umbrella Academy TV show and Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez advise Netflix's Locke & Key, so have Vaughan and Chiang assisted the Paper Girls team. Vaughan gave the TV writers detailed notes on the characters' backgrounds, while Chiang explained his designs and concept art. But both insist the TV show is taking their story to new levels.
"I think sometimes people read a comic and are like, 'oh this is just storyboards, let's just shoot this.' But comics are its own unique medium, and television can do things that we can't," Vaughan says. "Like with needle drops — just the addition of music adds an incredible layer to this that we didn't have access to. These young performers are some of the best younger actors I've ever seen. This show really takes such advantage of the medium. If you've never heard of Paper Girls, if you're not familiar with this comic, then the show is still 100 percent accessible and I think you will love it. But if you're a hardcore fan of the comic, it's still going to be extremely surprising to you. With our blessing, they go to some places that we never could as a comic and there are new characters, there are new threats."
Paper Girls is coming to Prime Video on July 29. Check out first-look photos above.
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