Paper Girls vol. 1

Paper Girls Vol. 1 - Brian Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Intriguing premise, but lacking in execution, as events piled upon each other at a rhythm that obfuscated them a little too much.

It all starts with four 12-year old girls delivering newspapers in the early hours of the morning, in 1988 Cleveland, and quickly moves from mundane occurrings (bullying from shady teenagers) to weird ones. While running after a group of three shrouded figures who've slighted them, the girls discover some strange machine in a basement; a bright flash of white light later, everybody's gone from town, and armoured-clad soldiers on dinosaurs stalk the streets to off every “straggler” they find. And this is only the beginning of Weird...

I liked the basic idea: people disappearing, those four kids armed only with their bikes and walkie-talkies (no internet or cell phones in 1988!), taken in the cross-fire between the armoured people and the shrouded ones, trying to make sense of it all while surviving... Not to mention a certain nostalgia permeating the whole story—enought to be felt, but not too much, not the point of too much name dropping or constantly referring to 80s items (the graphic format allows to put them here without having to underline their presence like a novel may have to).

On the other hand, so many events end up piled upon each other—so many weird things, without any actual revelation— that, just like the girls stumbling from situation to situation without a clue about what to do next, the reader too can feel confused. It's not about getting all the information immediately, because that'd be no fun; still, there's a very fine line between “mystery” and “a ton of mystery”, and the latter here is made up of one too many of those strange occurrings. Is it horror? Sci-fi? Is it about aliens or time travel? I had the feeling that the authors wanted to add as many elements as possible to deepen the mystery, without seeing where the line was; as a result, it's a bit overkill for a first volume.

It would also have been nice to know more about the characters, since this would make it easier to relate to what's happening to them (Mac's family, Erin's nightmares...). I didn't feel like I had enough of a grasp on these girls to properly care about how they'd cope with events here.

The art and colours are good; my copy had compressed graphics, which dampened a bit my enthusiasm, but as I got a PDF for review, obviously this isn't in the printed version. Ad it has some fairly decent dialogue linesm too.

Just for the artwork, this is worth keeping an eye on. Nevertheless, the story itself doesn't sem to be going anywhere, being more a collage of “this weird thing happens, then this other weird thing, then yet another weird thing.”