Time Travel is a Threat, Not a Savior in Paper Girls 24

By Spencer Irwin

Paper Girls 24

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

The cast of Paper Girls continually look to time travel for salvation, as a cure-all to whatever ails them. The problem is that time travel caused almost all of their problems in the first place, and only threatens to cause more in the future. Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matthew Wilson make this clearer than ever in Paper Girls 24, an issue that paints time travel as something that’s actively destructive and malicious. Continue reading

Surprising Shifts in Perspective in Saga 54

by Spencer Irwin

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

As its title would suggest, Saga is a series with an ambitious scope and a sprawling cast, one where the perspective often shifts between various groups of characters, even though we can count on Marko and Alana’s family to be at the center of events at any given time. It’s also a series where nothing stays the same for long, allowing for any number of shocking betrayals, alliances, deaths, and shifts in the status quo. This all comes heavily into play in Saga 54, an issue that upends the series’ world in ways we’ve never seen before, ways most of us probably were not prepared for. Continue reading

The Virtues and Dangers of Information in Paper Girls 22

By Spencer Irwin

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

Like with most of Brian K. Vaughan’s books, one of Paper Girls’ best qualities is its letter column. Issue 22’s column ends on one of the more interesting letters the series has received; Vaughan’s avatar, Dash-Dash Dot, rightly calls out the writer for his regressive politics and use of cringeworthy expressions like “beta male,” but as much as I hate to admit it, I also found the writer echoing some criticisms I myself have stated on occasion, particularly his assertion that “twenty issues in, and [the Paper Girls] (and the reader) still don’t know what is happening, or why, or what to do about it.”

I haven’t been shy in calling Paper Girls out on its nearly impenetrable lore and over-arcing plot myself — thankfully, the characters, art, and the individual stories of each arc are strong enough to make Paper Girls a must-read comic despite those larger flaws. But this most recent arc has made it more clear than ever that Vaughan — and Paper Girls itself — has a complicated relationship with information, and that no matter how frustratingly paced its doling out of information may sometimes be, it’s a deliberate, meaningful choice. Continue reading

Saga 53: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Taylor Anderson

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

Spencer: In recent months our Saga coverage has focused quite a bit on how Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan have been taking their time, luxuriating in a slower pace and revealing more and more about their characters as they move pieces into place, setting up for a no doubt explosive finale. That said, no matter how much build up they have, grand confrontations don’t work the same way in Saga as they do in many other similar pieces of media; there’s no monologue-and-metaphor-filled matches of will, no intricately choreographed fight scenes, no thirty episode long battles as Namek slowly burns in the background. Instead, Saga’s finales reflect real life violence. They’re quick, brutal, often random, and care very little about the events that have led up to them or who’s right or wrong.  Continue reading

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!

slim-banner

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