Paper Ladies is nice when you’re on the lookout for comics like Stranger Issues

It’s simple to sum up the enchantment of Stranger Issues: Teenagers having adventures, mysteries, bizarre science fiction, a robust visible aesthetic, and, in fact, the 1980s. And if that profitable mixture of flavors obtained you hooked on the Duffer Bros.’ Netflix hit, I’ve one thing to tide you over to Stranger Issues four.
You’ve obtained to learn Paper Ladies.
Paper Ladies is a long-running Picture Comics collection a couple of group of 4 youngsters on the journey of their lives. Author Brian Okay. Vaughan (Y the Final Man, Saga) packs the plot with mysteries and plot twists, whereas artists Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson fill it with science fiction imagery. And, in fact, it’s set within the 1980s.
[Ed. note: This post will contain a few spoilers for Paper Girls.]

“Hey, whichever dumb fucks simply robbed our pal, when you can hear this, prepare…”Brian Okay. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang/Picture Comics

Meet (left to proper) Karina “KJ” J, Mackenzie “Mac” Coyle, Erin Tieng, and Tiffany Quilkin, the paper ladies of Paper Ladies. (It’s Tiffany’s second walkie-talkie that obtained stolen.) They ship the Cleveland Preserver of their hometown of Stony Stream, Ohio, and our story begins on November 1, 1988.
It’s the 50th anniversary of Orson Welles’ the Warfare of the Worlds, and it’s additionally probably the most harmful day of the 12 months to be a paperboy or woman: The morning after Halloween. However it doesn’t keep November 1 for lengthy. The place Stranger Issues finds its sci-fi trappings in telekinesis, parallel dimensions, and scientific laboratories, Paper Ladies is all about time journey.
As KJ, Mac, Erin, and Tiffany band collectively simply to maintain from getting mugged by older teenage boys, they get attacked by a trio of ninjas, their walkie talkie will get stolen, they discover a spaceship in a basement, and issues solely get weirder from there. They discover a telepathic sq. with the Apple brand on it, meet dinosaur-riding future warriors, and see tardigrades the dimensions of kaiju.
Finally, they’re swept up in a battle between factions of time vacationers, mistaken for a scrappy insurrectionist band as an alternative of what they’re: Confused 12-year-olds from simply exterior of Cleveland in 1988.
Vaughan’s attribute aptitude for prolonged serial journey tales with a thriller at their coronary heart is in full pressure in Paper Ladies, with the added complication of retaining the story’s complete time hopping, causality smashing story again to entrance. What helps is that our 4 protagonists — and the wealth of secondary characters they encounter — really feel totally actual. Identical to Stranger Issues, you retain turning pages (or tapping “subsequent episode”) not simply to see in the event that they survive, however how they grapple with, say, discovering out that they die of childhood leukemia earlier than they end highschool.

The quilt of Paper Ladies #17, sans textual content.

And when you’re a fan of Stranger Issues however want the present dealt with its feminine characters, or its queer coding, or its rosy-eyed love of 1980s popular culture with a bit extra nuance extra steadily, you’ll discover loads to love in Paper Ladies.
The comedian is in regards to the 1980s, sure, nevertheless it’s not sugarcoated. Paper Ladies doesn’t allow you to overlook that realizing you’re homosexual within the 1980s, one thing Stranger Issues has solely skirted nervously, sucked. That everybody you knew was lowkey fearful of nuclear annihilation. That the Challenger catastrophe meant that not even house was a hopeful frontier anymore.
Paper Ladies is definitely filled with references to 1980s popular culture — it’s all its 12-year-old protagonists know — and let me be clear that there’s plenty of 1980s popular culture that also completely slaps. However one of many causes it’s simple to idolize the 1980s now could be as a result of the last decade was on the cusp of huge adjustments.
Because the eponymous ladies are thrust into lethal, harmful journey — hopping between the Stone Age, 1988, 2000, 2016, and 2171 — they’re pressured to leap in direction of maturity, even because the world as they know it’s about to be thrust bodily into the data age. As a few the women meet and confront their unrecognizable future selves, they’ll’t conceive of how they grew up into that.
I’ve by no means met my future self, however I can nonetheless relate. It’s onerous for me to conceive of how the 12 months 2000 grew into the 12 months 2016 — and I lived by means of it!
Paper Ladies has been collected into 5 editions up to now, with a sixth on the way in which after the entire story wraps up on the finish of this month. All in all, the collection has gained two Eisners, and its collections have been nominated for the Greatest Graphic Story Hugo Award for 3 years operating. Simply this week, Amazon Studios introduced that it’s creating Paper Ladies for TV with a collection dedication.
All that is to say: It’s best to learn Paper Ladies. It’s Stranger Issues, however all ladies and time journey. What’s to not like?

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