Comic books are a fantastic medium. Storytellers are able to conjure all kinds of stories and characters to life, and the scope of the ideas can be endless. Comic books are not contained by the limits of a shooting schedule or a budget. It is all about the imagination of the writer and the ability of the illustrator. So every year, new incredible comic book stories are released, taking us to new worlds and introducing us to characters we would love to meet in real life.
Sadly, right now, the comic book landscape is being dominated almost to a fault by superheroes. The superhero genre has always been the driving force of the industry. However, as of late, it seems that most, if not all, comic book adaptations are ready to just bring superheroes to life. Producers seem to forget that there are other amazing stories waiting to be told that don’t involve superheroes in the strict sense of the word.
This is why it is so great to see a comic book adaptation that is willing to go beyond the realm of superheroes and is willing to tell the stories of other kinds of characters. In this case, a group of girls is trapped in the middle of a war that goes beyond time and space. Paper Girls is an adaptation of the comic book of the same name, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang. It tells the story of Erin, KJ, Tiffany, and Mac, a group of paper girls who are suddenly trapped in the middle of a war between time travelers.
Papers Girls made a splash when it was released in 2015 and quickly became one of the most successful titles in the Image Comics roster. Brian K. Vaughan is without a doubt one of the best comic book writers ever, and his imagination has been the igniting force behind other amazing titles such as Saga, and Y: The Last Man. Sadly, Y: The Last Man received a terrible adaptation not too long ago, and the scale of Saga is just too much for normal TV production.
Meanwhile, Paper Girls seemed like the perfect scale and match to get an adaptation. The tale of these four girls jumping through time and space is quite big, but it is also quite intimate at the same time. This means that a normal production can adapt the scenario to the screen properly. There have been many times when producers try to do much with less, and things don’t go well. Paper Girls does seem to lean on the cheaper side of today’s streaming productions, but not enough to make the show seem ugly or incomplete.
Stephany Folsom writes every episode, taking into account the source material but making some changes that, of course, make the story a lot more distinguishable when taking the form of a TV show. Paper Girls is all about the characters and the plot. When it comes to the characters, the actor brings them to life beautifully. Each one of the main girls is fantastic in their roles, and they really feel like real human beings you might have met somewhere and sometime in your lifetime.
Sofia Rosinsky, who plays Mac, is the clear stand-out actor from the season. Mac is a very showy character. She is quite strong, and her storyline this season goes through her own unique way, separated from the other girls. This is not to say that the other girls are bad, not at all. They are fantastic. However, it is clear that the story gives Mac the spotlight, and she doesn’t have to share it with anybody, making her shine a lot brighter than the rest.
In terms of the plot, each episode brings tons of revelations and information regarding the time-traveling conflict at the heart of the show. There are many twists and turns that will keep the audience engaged, and it all moves at a very good pace. The season consists of eight episodes, all of them running around 40 minutes, so you will never feel like the story is going too slow or too fast. It is just the perfect pace for a weekend binge-watch on Amazon.
Like we said before, the show does look somewhat on the cheap side of things. Some of the costumes used for some of the most out-there characters look very cheap, and the visual effects are not the finest example of what you can do with them. There are clear budget limitations, but the show does find a way to work around them, at least to a point. Sometimes it is very clear a sequence needed to be bigger to transmit the proper emotion and feeling that it was trying to convey.
Something that is really beyond the cheap VFX and costumes is the look of the show. It seems like the color palette used on the show is very muted and the colors don’t really pop out as they should. The framing of the shots also seems very generic, which is something that doesn’t really match the originality of the story. It seems that framing and camera work could have been curated a lot more than they are right now.
Paper Girls is a very good adaptation. The show does falter a bit on some technical aspects, but it always maintains a consistency that is commendable. If you have never experienced a story coming from Brian K. Vaughan, this could be the perfect introduction to his world of fantastic stories. The actors are great, and the story is original and paced very well, which puts the show way above most shows on TV right now.