I’m sure I’ve mentioned it once or twice, especially when you consider how often I talk about Stranger Things, but I absolutely love a coming of age story. I actually think it might be my favorite type of story telling, and I’m constantly on the search for good ones. Stories like IT, Stand By Me, The Sandlot, The Fort by Aric Davis (loved this book), or Paper Towns (that magical, heart breaking book) are some of the ones that immediately jump to mind. Each one of them left an impact on me, and I think that’s what I love most about coming of age stories. They’re impactful. They speak to us on a nostalgic level that plays on the heart strings.
(Side Note:I left off Stranger Things because I thought it was obvious. It’s like saying Braveheart is your favorite movie. Well, no shit it’s your favorite movie. It’s only the greatest movie ever made. I dare you to dispute me on this!!!)
When it comes to coming of age stories you would think that novels and movies have the market kind of corned. When one thinks of comic books people don’t necisarrily think of impactful stories they mostly think of super heroes and action sequences. Which is a part of comic books, yes, but is not what the medium is all about. Just look at the landscape now and see how many creator owned properties that are out there telling stories that don’t involve super heroes. Image Comics has been such a great location for comic writers to call home while telling stories they wouldn’t otherwise get to tell working for the big two. Books like Walking Dead, Chew, American Vampire, and Saga are all creator owned comics that are telling layered and deep stories. Just because it’s in a comic book doesn’t mean that the content should be looked at as anything less. There are other ways to explore story telling. Comics can have substance too.
I’ve proclaimed my love for Brian K Vaughn (Y the Last Man and Saga) a number of times on this site, and even more so on the Pull List columns I write for Fan Fest News. If you were to put a gun to my head (please don’t) and asked me to pick my favorite comic book writer this would be the name that fell out of my mouth. Hopefully it would fall out quick enough to distract you from the fact that I just wet myself. That’s neither here or there though.
With Today In Awesome Comic Book Images Vol. 5 I thought I would like to showcase one of Vaughn’s newer titles, Paper Girls for a couple of reasons. One because I think this is the closest we’ve gotten to LOST like story telling and mythology in awhile (which makes sense as Vaughn was a writer for the show), and because I’ve kind of strayed away from it. I read the first five issues and then stopped. Most likely caused by a pretty full pull list and money reasons, but now I’m thinking that’s a bit of a mistake.
Out of context this image really doesn’t mean anything. I’m sure your immediate thought was, “oh cool, trippy sky”, but to the narrative of Paper Girls it’s the first real time shit gets real for our main characters. The quick summary, that won’t do the book any justice, is a group of four paper girls set out on their paper routes on Halloween night (or morning? It’s been awhile) in the 80’s (yeeeeeeeah 80’s!) and a whole bunch of weird things start happening. Apple products from the future find their way to the 80’s (can you say time travel), weird human like people who talk in a different langues but definitely aren’t human human (sort of aliens?), I think I saw a dinosaur at one point (a flying one), and the need to save the future or the past. Things get weird and carry importance rather quickly.
The one thing that doesn’t change is Vaughn’s trade mark characterization. Each one of the girls is fleshed out perfectly and we get these small windows into their lives as events within the narrative start to escalate. Paper Girls tackles the concept of broken homes, spending your life playing video games and watching television, being alone, being more than what you thought you could be, and a bunch of girls kicking some serious ass. The third volume of the series kicked off last week and I found myself questioning why I stopped reading in the first place. I’ve been itching to go back ever since.
What I love about today’s image the most is just the simplicity of it. Our character is witnessing something extraordinary and it’s not ignored. She doesn’t see the pink sky and go, “oh that’s weird”, she sees the pink sky and is immediately awed by it’s beauty and strangeness. There is something seriously disquieting about it, yet she can’t take her eyes away. The life she once knew quickly dissolves after this scene but in this moment she’s trying to comprehend this vast but subtle change. There are tons of moments like this strewn across the first four issues, filled with tons of awesome 80’s pop culture references, action, bad language, and kids on bikes. Just your classic science fiction coming of age story. A place worth visiting, or in my case, going back to (“We have to go back” easy LOST reference).
If you find yourself wanting more Stranger Things type story telling then I think Paper Girls could be your avenue. It may not be exactly the same but they could be not so distant cousins.