Paper Girls is a new series on Amazon Prime that follows four young girls who, while out delivering papers in 1988, become unwittingly caught in a conflict between warring factions of time-travellers, sending them on an adventure through time that will save the world. It is based on Brian K. Vaughan’s graphic novel of the same name.
The perfect show for Comic Con – Paper Girls made a big impact at SDCC this year with a panel, a screening, a signing, and poster giveaways around the convention center.
Kicking things off on Friday was the panel which involved a Q&A and treated fans to some exclusive clips. The panellists included Brian K. Vaughan, executive producers Christopher C. Rogers and Cliff Chiang, stars Camryn Jones (Tiffany), Riley Lai Nelet (Erin), Sofia Rosinsky (Mac), Fina Strazza (KJ), Adina Porter (Prioress), and Nate Corddry (Larry), and moderator Yvette Nicole Brown.
Vaughan started things off by talking about the how the story came to be. When he was young, there was a time when all the paper boys got replaced by paper girls. He thought these girls would make good protagonists and liked the idea of “12-year-old children delivering bad news to grown ups”. Chiang echoed this highlighting that there are so many coming of age stories about boys having adventures so they wanted to do one with girls. Rogers stressed that they wanted to get this right so representation behind the camera was vital with them having a primarily female writers room and all female directors.
Brown asked about the audition process for the show. Porter answered short and sweet – “I auditioned and they said yes”. Corddry went into a bit more detail revealing that he wasn’t given a script and only received sides for the role but said it with passion. He discussed his character Larry, a member of the STF who he describes as being like the Rebel alliance. Larry is not in the graphic novels so Corddry felt a lot of freedom as there was no burden because he just got to work with the scripts rather than have to live up to the expectation from the graphic novel.
Next up to discuss their characters were the Paper Girls themselves. Jones describes Tiffany has super smart and super protective of her friends – “Tiff’s an only child and her parents work a lot, so these girls become like her family”. Rosinsky characterized Mac as a “tough nut with a heart of gold” highlighting her difficult home life as the reason for why she is the way she is. Nelet labelled Erin as a sheltered girl with a sense of duty who starts the paper route so she can gain some freedom. Freedom was also the motivation for Strazza’s character KJ starting the paper job. KJ comes from a rich background and has a lot of pressure from her family – “the paper route is the only place she can make her own path literally and figuratively”.
Despite the girls’ friendship being such a core element to the series, the actors didn’t meet until they were on set. They still had time to bond though, revealing that they connected over ice cream and playing laser tag in their hotel.
A fan question highlighted what the girls did to prepare for the role. Strazza discussed that they practiced the bike riding with a stunt coordinator to get the formation right. Jones went one step further and prepped by riding her bike and tossing newspapers while Nelet perfected the rolling and banding newspaper technique.
Another fan asked about the physics of the time travel used in the show. Vaughan described it as a cassette tape – “You can record it and overwrite it, but the more you do that the more strained it will get”. He also discussed that that in the show a central conflict is whether time should be changed or not which is interesting as “it means that there are no good guys or bad guys because both viewpoints valid”.
The topic of time also brought out some fun questions like what the cast would miss if they found themselves back in the 80s. Air fryers and Spotify were popular answers but Porter’s R-rated response got the most laughs “there are some modern tools that are maybe battery operated”. The panellists were also asked about when they would want to time travel to. Rosinsky was very specific stating April 1920 so that she could see her grandparents be born. Nelet would want to go back to a disco in 70s but acknowledges the past would be dangerous for her and Jones as women of colour. Strazza also picked the 70s because “they have cool pants”.
The producers acknowledged that the irony that none of the girls cast were alive in the 80s so encouraged them to listen to music of the time and make playlists. However, they definitely didn’t want to romanticize the era. Vaughan stated that the show was anti-nostalgic – “this isn’t so much a love letter to the 80s as it is a death threat”. Vaughan, who was inspired by his LGBT friends and what they went through in the 80s, wanted to add the LGBT storylines to the show for this reason. Strazza reiterated this and how it affected the way she played KJ and her sexuality given the importance of her arc to a lot of people – “I wanted to make sure that I approached it very delicately and made sure it was told truthfully.”
The panel was wrapped up by Brown who acknowledged that the show was going to change these talented young actor’s lives as well as have an impact on the people watching. Having seen the entire series, she assured attendees that they were in for a real treat.
Stay tuned for our follow-up article covering the Paper Girls screening.