By Ani Bundel
Shows on Amazon Prime Video can be rather hit or miss. Shows one thinks might be big can flop, shows no one sees coming can take over. Paper Girls, a series based on the comic book of the same name written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, is in the latter category. Despite minimal marketing, the 1980s period piece about four paper girls caught in the middle of a time traveler war the day after Halloween 1988 is set to become a word-of-mouth hit when it debuts at the end of July.
The Paper Girls panel was hosted by comics fan Yvette Nicole Brown, and the main cast of the series were all in attendance, including Sofia Rosinsky as Mac Coyle, Fina Strazza as KJ Brandman, Camryn Jones as Tiffany Quilkin, and Riley Lai Nelet as Erin Tieng. Some of the adult actors also turned up, including Adina Porter and Nate Corddry, plus showrunner Chris Rogers (the man behind Halt & Catch Fire) and the comic’s creators, Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang.
The panel opened with the main trailer for the new series, which explained the concept of the show a little more. The girls themselves time travel from 1988 to 2019 as part of their accidental stumble into this time traveling war over whether the timeline should be preserved or altered. Their flashing forward jump means they meet themselves, now as adults, including Ali Wong, who stars as the modern adult version of Erin.
The panel was also studded with clips throughout the hour, many of which expanded upon the glimpses shown in the trailer. They included one of the four girls’ first major bonding experiences. (Hint: Fireworks are involved.) Fans also got to see Porter in action as Prioress, one of the main antagonists. And though Ali Wong was not in attendance, there was an extended clip of Younger Erin and Older Erin having parallel meltdowns after their first encounter. (Also a few spoilery details were included in that clip, so perhaps it’s not a bad thing Amazon didn’t post it.)
For the younger actors, the 1980s are an undiscovered country that the series taught them about, especially Strazza, who comes to grips with her sexuality when she sees her adult self is married to a woman and proudly LGBTQ+. She wisely noted the show has taken pains not to glorify the way society handled queer culture. Strazza said it was an eye-opening experience for her to learn about the way the AIDS crisis was handled, and how much society has changed since that era.
But perhaps the best answers came from asking the cast when they might travel to and what they’d take to the past. Porter said she’d take a battery-operated boyfriend of rather well-known renown, and “invent” it, while Vaughan said he’d be smartest, and invent a book-over-the-internet sales company, and call it Amazon.
But perhaps the most touching moment was when an older fan got up during the Q&A and said she was a paper girl when she was a teen, taking over from paper boys. She talked about the experience of folding papers herself and bundling them on her back. The actors were really touched to realize they were representing people’s real-life experiences, even if in a fantastical story.
Miss any of The Beat’s earlier SDCC ’22 Coverage? Find it all here!