Paper Girls 21: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge & Spencer Irwin

Paper Girls 21

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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Ryan M: One of the best things about living in 2018 is the decentralization of knowledge. With the internet, you are a few queries away from knowing just about anything. There are, of course, the downsides, like I now have the power to use WedMD to diagnose myself with chronic illnesses or see evidence of the good time my friends were having last night while I watched 100% Hotter and diagnosed myself with chronic illnesses. Despite those minor dangers, though, there is so much to appreciate about how much we can know in moments. The titular Paper Girls come from a world where news and information travels manually, literally carried to your door in a finite form. Throughout the series, they have been at an information disadvantage, constantly trying to play catch up to understand what’s happening. For the first time, in Paper Girls 21, the advancements of the future may be a savior. Continue reading

Thrillingly Putting the Pieces in Place in Saga 52

by Drew Baumgartner

Saga 52

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

In this game, Fischer (playing Black) demonstrates noteworthy innovation and improvisation. Byrne (playing White), after a standard opening, makes a seemingly minor mistake on move 11, losing tempo by moving the same piece twice. Fischer pounces, with brilliant sacrificial play, culminating in an incredible queen sacrifice on move 17. Byrne captures the queen, but Fischer gets far too much material for it – a rook, two bishops, and a pawn. At the end, Fischer’s pieces coordinate to force checkmate, while Byrne’s queen sits, helpless, at the other end of the board.

Bobby Fischer’s Breakthrough: The Game of the Century

When someone says a chapter of a story is “putting the pieces in place,” it’s usually meant to point out some emotional shortcoming. Putting the pieces in place is seen as perfunctory, a perhaps necessary prelude to the actual drama to come, lacking in any real emotional investment (and maybe even drawing our attention to the invisible hand guiding circumstances into position). But I think that attitude is entirely shortsighted, privileging the fallout of events more than the setup, and ignoring that the “pieces” and “places” are the raw materials for drama, so how and why they’re there are essential story elements. It’s the kind of attitude that would make Bobby Fischer’s famous “Game of the Century” is only thrilling in its final moments, as he finally forced Byrne’s king into checkmate, but any chess fan can tell you that the ending was set up 21 moves earlier, which in turn may have been set up six moves earlier still, reminding us that the simple act of moving pieces on the board is what drives the drama in a game of chess. Obviously, Saga isn’t a game, and the characters aren’t chess pieces (royalty notwithstanding), but it’s just a thrilling to watch them scoot into attack position — even when we can’t see the attack coming. Continue reading

Dread, Anticipation, and Waiting in Saga 51

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The current arc of Saga has, in many ways, been a slower one. That’s not a complaint — Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples know exactly how to make even simple moments of domestic bliss, strife, or harmony absolutely riveting — just an observation. With Ianthe plotting in the background, and with Saga‘s track record of major twists and deaths coming at a fairly regular pace, there are likely some readers waiting impatiently to get to the next “big” moment and see exactly where this is all leading. Saga 51 brings us one step closer to a major reckoning, but it also reminds readers why these quieter issues are so essential to the series as a whole. Continue reading

Saga 50: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Ryan Mogge

This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Taylor: Back in August, my wife and I packed up all of our worldly belongings and moved from Chicago to Denver. We’ve greatly enjoyed our new digs for the most part, but this doesn’t mean the transition was without its trials. I had lived in Chicago for nearly ten years, so moving to a new city meant saying goodbye to a lot of things and people I knew. I feel lucky to have undergone this momentous change with my wife, who has been a rock through it all. Point is, when you go through a big change, it’s always nice to have someone by your side, as Saga 50 illustrates. Continue reading

You Always Hurt The Ones You Love in Saga 49

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Jane: You’re willing to have [your story] published and read by strangers, but you don’t want your best friend to see it?
Daria: Thank you for understanding.

Daria, The Story of D

I’ve never been all that good at communicating with my parents, especially when it comes to details about my life. It isn’t because I don’t like them or we don’t get along, but because I care so much about what they think about me that I’m terrified I’ll upset or disappoint them. It’s the same reason it’s easier for me to share my writing with, or even sing karaoke in front of, strangers than friends — people who actually know and care about you, whose opinions you respect, can hurt you far more than anyone else. Saga 49 finds more cast members than ever crammed into tight quarters, which makes the wounds they inflict upon each other all the more painful. Continue reading

Best of 2017: Best Writers

Best Writers

In such a collaborative medium as comics, it can be difficult to say where a writer’s influence on the story ends, but there’s no question on where it begins: words on the page. Whether they thrill, elate, chill, or deflate, the best writers create characters, settings, and situations we want to return to, again and again. These are our top 10 writers of 2017. Continue reading

Paper Girls 17: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner & Patrick Ehlers

Paper Girls 17

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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Drew: Brian K. Vaughan series are hard to pin down, generically. I mean, they obviously fall into big capital-G genres like “sci-fi” or “space opera,” but the list of specific influences — which Vaughan often name-checks — can shift from issue to issue. Case in point, Paper Girls has sprinted through dozens of generic touchstones in its 17 issues. And yet, I’ve been holding onto its starting point in the Spielberg/Columbus-style suburbia of the late ’80s as some kind of essential component of its DNA, even as the series hasn’t been in that setting since its very first arc. While some of the girls may still be in that head-space (Mac sure seems to be), they’re traversing worlds that have entirely different points of reference (both for the people who live in those worlds, and the stories we tell about them), which seems to be leaving an impression on them. Continue reading

The Same World, but Two Different Realities in Paper Girls 16

By Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

One of my most vivid memories is a day in first grade when we had a substitute teacher. I opened a little tupperware container full of alphabet flash cards and it fell on the floor, scattering the cards all over. When I started to pick them up, the teacher came over and yelled at me for “crawling around on the floor,” wouldn’t listen to a word of my protest, and sent me to detention. The flash cards remained on the floor for the rest of the day.

When you’re young, it often feels like you and adults live in two different worlds, but that specific scenario was one where I quite literally felt like the teacher and I were seeing and experiencing two very different realities. That rift between generations is illustrated just as literally by Cliff Chiang, Brian K. Vaughan, and Matthew Wilson in Paper Girls 16. Continue reading

The Weight of Memories in Saga 47

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

We all experience millions of moments. Some are life-changing, some represent a larger theme in our lives, and some don’t seem to mean much of anything. If you could choose three of these moments to tell your story, it would be hard not to stick to the benchmarks: births, deaths, weddings, etc. In Saga 47, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples give us a few glimpses into The Will’s past and, by the nature of storytelling, we know that these are not random, but their selection tells a story of its own.
Continue reading

The Inevitable Feels Vital in Saga 46

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The most successful plot turns are ones that feel surprising but, in retrospect, inevitable. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples end Saga 46 with Petrichor and Robot in a passionate embrace. If this had happened on page one, perhaps the reader would have been thrown, but when the dust settles, it’s clear that this is where we were heading all along. Vaughan and Staples have fully established the depths of both Petrichor and Robot’s loneliness. Even their cliched verbal sparring into macking was telegraphed by the fact that they’ve both been reading romance novels, where kissing without first trading barbs is a rarity. Continue reading