This may come as a surprise to many people but there are indeed comic books that exist outside of the Marvel and DC Universe. As enjoyable and comfortable as these saturated characters are, it can become very tedious and exhausting to keep up. However, it is just as tedious and exhausting when one casts one’s eyes beyond the landscape of rocket-fueled and Norse god superheroes. The boundaries are endless when it comes to comic books. There are so many styles and stories to discover that it can become very daunting when deciding where to start.
It helps to take one small step towards what interests you. A dabble into a favorite genre like science fiction can quickly lead to getting sucked into a wormhole of amazing or horrendous. So it helps that comic book stories can be experienced in small increments of single issues. It definitely is frustrating when you want more of the comic and have to wait, but then that’s just a common reader issue. Especially if you are a fan of Patrick Rothfuss (I am patiently waiting, sir. Patiently, patiently, patiently waiting).
The first issue that I tested out recently came off a strong recommendation from a colleague. It was during the last fifteen minutes before a comic convention closed (which apparently is my favorite time to grab comics). The original intent was to pick up A-Force but I needed a few more issues to make the minimum for credit card processing. So my colleague immediately pointed out Paper Girls with just the words, “you’ll love it.” No set up for what the comic was or why. Since we both do share common interests, I took the recommendation and went on my merry way.
It should be noted that I am an avid fan of Image comics. The company releases the most compelling and interesting stories. So once I saw the Image symbol, I was pretty positive that Paper Girls #1 was going to be up my alley.
The first issue introduces us to twelve-year-old Erin first. It is 1988 and Erin has a paper route to tend to. This morning of all mornings, she has an altercation with the local bully. To her surprise, three other girls, also paper girls, come to her rescue. Erin is instantly part of the group as they travel together delivering papers. We get to meet McKenzie, the bad-ass leader and most aggressive nature, with KJ and Tiffany completing the group. The trouble does not end there as robed figures begin to stalk and harass the girls.
The cover alone already caught my attention. Cliff Chiang, the artist, is able to create the retro-aesthetic seamlessly. With the bold color palette reminiscent of early-eighties cartoons gracing the covers, and the art between the pages, it was not hard to immediately get sucked into this science fiction/mystery story. The artwork immediately brings to mind Garth Williams. It’s that same style of simplicity, beauty, and intensity.
The crucial test of any first issue is asking myself the question, “Do I want to keep going?” If a heavy sigh is admitted, then the answer is no. If you’re already thinking of the next issue, then huzzah!
Although there’s very little monument in the story and the reason for the fear has not been mentioned, I was already looking forward to the next issue. You can tell something sinister is going on. Black-robed creatures are not common in small towns. Or any towns for that matter. The story itself seems to be a mixture of the friendship connection of Now and Then with the adventure atmosphere of Monster Squad coupled with the deep brevity of danger of Stranger Things. Something is going on and these girls are getting all right up on it!
This first issue definitely grabbed my attention. It also makes me super happy to know that there is a Volume I and Volume II available. The binge-reading of this comic will encompass most of my life.