Here is the entire run of our deep dive into Paper Girls. Each episode covers one trade paperback (five issues) and will not contain spoilers for future issues. So, you can read, listen, read, listen, read, listen, until you finish the series. If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, or Matt Wilson, then you may want to listen to our intro episode which will give you a background on the creators and set up the story. We hope you enjoy this series as much as we did!
Paper Girls Volume 1
Welcome to scenic Stony Stream, Ohio! Okay fine, it’s just suburban Cleveland. In 1988.
In this episode, co-hosts Mike and Alex kick off the first season of Storied Arcs by breaking down Paper Girls Volume 1 (issues 1-5). They discuss the storytelling choices made by the creative team that are specific to sequential art, the use (or potential overuse) of nostalgia when dealing with the period settings, and Alex gives his three immutable theories for time travel in fiction (as opposed to, you know, time travel in real life).
As will be the case in the future, this episode assumes you’ve read through issue 5 aka first trade collection but won’t spoil anything beyond that.
One important note is that the alien language has been decrypted and the key is offered in the back of deluxe edition volume 3. Before that was offered, fans were able to decrypt it on their own.
Most of the actual dialogue can be intuited from the art and context. However, the most provocative statements are in the prologues to issues 2-5 and are written in the alien script. Here is the breakdown of those:
Issue 01 – None
Issue 02 – NOSTALGIA IS DEATH
Issue 03 – DEATH IS FOREVER
Issue 04 – FOREVER IS NOW
Issue 05 – NOW IS GONE
Paper Girls Volume 2
If you could be told with exact certainty when you were going to die, would you want to know? Would you find that knowledge be freeing or burdensome?
Mike and Alex go deep on that very topic and more as they cover Paper Girls Volume 2 (issues 6-10). They touch on how prescient it was in 2015 to refer to 2016 as the beginning of The Problems and how weird it would be to meet a younger version of yourself. Or an older one, for that matter. Not that 40 is old or anything because it definitely isn’t. Nope. Not old at all.
As always, this episode will cover this trade collection and what’s come before but won’t be spoiling anything beyond issue 10.
Paper Girls Volume 3
Travel back to 11,706 BCE and meet the woman who invented time travel! But she’s not even technically the first time traveler because people from the future will use the technology she invented to go back into the past which will allow people from that past to go even further into the past and thus be present in that past when she arrives there after having just invented time travel in the future.
Everybody clear? Good.
As they jump into Paper Girls Volume 3 (issues 11-15), Mike and Alex try to parse through the timeline above and do a quick ranking of the story arcs thus far, working through where and how this arc fits in with the overall narrative. They discuss if the ins and outs of how time travel works within the story are even necessary to know, and also revisit the many biblical references that continue to arise throughout the arcs.
Be sure you’re read through the first three volumes before you listen, and there won’t be any spoilers beyond issue 15.
Paper Girls Volume 4
Where were you when Y2K hit? Were you hiding in a fallout bunker? In Times Square to watch the ball drop? Or were you defiantly at your computer, actively ignoring the explicit warnings of electronics retailers, like one of your podcast hosts? And if you were too young to remember Y2K or weren’t even born yet, we’re curious- what do you know about it? Do they talk about the giant robots? Because that totally happened. Trust me. I was there.
In this episode, Mike and Alex revisit the final year of the 20th Century (NOT the first year of the 21st Century, thank you very much) in Paper Girls Volume 4 (issues 16-20). They discuss the best way to deliver a whole lot of exposition in a story without having it feel like you’ve just been delivered a whole lot of exposition and how this arc starts to tie together threads that have been laid out going back to the first issue. We’re on the back half of the roller coaster and gaining speed towards the end!
If you’re here and listening, we assume you’ve read through issue 20, but no spoiler beyond that!
Here are the articles referenced in the book and the podcast:
Paper Girls Volume 5
It’s true, folks; the future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades. But never mind that, we have more important things to discuss, like, if you had to say, which Ninja Turtle are you?
In this week’s episode, Mike and Alex travel into the future for Paper Girls Volume 5 (issues 21-25) and talk about how things there maybe aren’t so different from how they are right now. Over-policing? Still an issue. Hospitals? No insurance, no help. Libraries? Woefully underutilized always helpful. And it anyone happens to be listening to this in the year 2171, please leave a comment on how right/wrong they got things. I’d be interested to know.
In the homestretch now with just one more trade collection to go. This episodes covers everything so far through issue 25 but does not spoil the final arc.
Paper Girls Volume 6
Maybe the real storied arcs are the friends we made along the way.
In this season finale, Mike and Alex discuss the epic conclusion to Paper Girls in the final story arc, Volume 6 (issues 26 – 30). Endings are hard because it’s nearly impossible to give everyone the satisfying closure they’re looking for. Spoiler alert- this one nails it.
Thanks for listening along all season and we hope you enjoyed diving deeper into this incredible story. Don’t forget to send in your comments and/or questions for the mailbag episode that’ll be coming down the line. We love hearing from everyone about their experiences reading Paper Girls, whether it was the first time for them or a re-read.
See you guys again real soon for Season Two of Storied Arcs!