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With the Paper Girls TV series now streaming on Prime Video, the time has come for co-creators Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (both of whom serve as executive producers on the small screen adaptation) to consider revisiting the world of the original comic book. Chatting with SYFY WIRE at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, Vaughan explained that the plan between himself and the illustrator was always to publish 30 issues — no more, no less.
"We knew exactly where our story was going to end, and I’m so happy and proud of that ending," he said. "That ending gives meaning to the story. And yet, definitely, watching these girls or watching Mac’s brother, who we see for a time or two in the book, to see these long deep scenes that Mac gets to play, we think, 'Ah, what a wonderful character, what a missed opportunity!’ Wouldn’t it be fun? But we’ll see, Cliff is hard at work drawing and writing Catwoman: Lonely City. I’m writing a new series on Substack called Spectators with Niko Henrichon. But never say never."
Reminiscent of youthful adventure films like The Goonies (and re-interpretations like Stranger Things), Paper Girls takes place in the 1980s and centers around a group of young women — Erin Tieng (Lai Nelet), Mac Coyle (Sofia Rosinsky), Tiffany Quilkin (Camryn Jones), and KJ Brandman (Fina Strazza) — who suddenly find themselves transported decades into the future. Hunted by an organization that considers temporal displacement to be a capital offense, the girls must rely on each other (and their grown-up selves) to solve the mystery of what happened to them and get back home in one piece. For Vaughan, the overall goal was to avoid a saccharine sense of nostalgia.
"We all love fiction about the '80s," he continued. "I do too, but it’s looking at the decade through rose-colored glasses. There’s the music we love, the movies we love, the fashion, but Cliff and I grew up in the '80s and we remember the terrible things: the homophobia and the bigotry. I only asked that we not do a show where it feels like we’re asking to go back to this golden era; instead. this is a show about progress. I do think the world is a gradually better place, and we need to keep pushing forward to do a show that isn’t just about nostalgia for a time gone by."
"We didn’t want the comic or the show to be easy, especially when you have young actors it can go to a place that’s a caricature," Chiang added. "Their stories and emotions feel very real."
The idea of hindsight is woven into the very DNA of Paper Girls, which explores the age-old fantasy of an adult getting to impart wisdom to their younger self. "That is 100 percent Cliff’s idea," Vaughan revealed. "I can’t thank him enough. When I was writing this, I was thinking, 'What eras can these girls have adventures? Just in the future or pre-historic past?' Cliff immediately lasered in on, ’What if they met themselves at the age we are now? What if our 12-year-old selves confronted us? What would they hate about us? What would they be impressed by?' The moment Cliff said that, that unlocked everything this story is really about."
In addition to the comic book creators, Amazon's translation of the Eisner-winning source material also boasts Christopher C. Rogers (Lodge 49), Stephany Folsom (Toy Story 4), Christopher Cantwell (Halt and Catch Fire), and Steven Prinz (Them) as executive producers. Cantwell — who was recently confirmed to be attached to a reboot of Max Headroom — is also a writer of comics for Marvel and Dark Horse. "If you’re not reading his Iron Man, you’re missing out on some of the best comics," Vaughan said. "He was so vitally important on the show, just a great dude."
All eight episodes of Paper Girls are now available to stream on Prime Video. Mairzee Almas (Shadow and Bone), Georgi Banks-Davies (I Hate Suzie), Destiny Ekaragha (Y: The Last Man), and Karen Gaviola (Lucifer) share directing duties. The show currently holds a fresh 86 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Looking for more sci-fi TV? Check out shows like Resident Alien, Brave New World, Project Blue Book, Eureka, Heroes, Intergalactic, and more streaming now on Peacock. Looking ahead, SYFY has new series The Ark in the works from original Stargate film writer/producer Dean Devlin, as well as Stargate SG-1 producer Jonathan Glassner.