This Week’s Finest: Paper Girls #13

by Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson & Dee Cuniffe

If issue #13 proves anything about Paper Girls, it’s that it’s remarkably consistent and constantly evolving.  As the issue progresses within the larger narrative, old mysteries are resolved as quickly as new ones are realized; while the creative team continues to be in a class all their own in terms of execution and imagination.

Paper Girls #13 is a movement issue, it’s mostly following two sets of character’s at different spots in the current setting. The writing, and how it progresses the story while revealing new information about the cast and story, is primarily driven by the dialogue between the different sets of characters. Brian K. Vaughan is a master in that sense, he’s always been one of comics most eclectic and engaging in how he create’s distinct voices for his characters then utilizes that to enrich the setting and plot movement. It gives them a unmistakable realism and makes them endearing, like you’re watching a good friend. Paper Girls presents a higher degree of difficulty in that regard as it’s a story about teenagers, who are by their very nature, assholes. Vaughan has never shied away from that trait, the infamous gay slur in the first issue made that clear regardless of whether it was really necessary to get it’s point across. But the writer does so with a depth and insight that makes his cast effortlessly fascinating in spite of their inherent familiarity. In issue #13, theres extended separate conversations about periods and infants, but past the surface level inanity, the reader learns more about the kids past and how that shapes their current state.  While issue #13 of Paper Girls keeps with the high level of fantastic that has defined so much of the series, it does so with restraint, but it also doesn’t matter because of how engrossing the character’s are as a whole.

Cliff Chiang is well established for being one of comics great illustrators and what is so interesting with his work, especially in Paper Girls, is hown he utilizes technical detail in spots toward his unique design aesthetic. Chiang’s line work is deceptively simple, but it has a depth to it’s perspective in certain areas of the page that pronounce the scope of the enviroment. Similar to Vaughan’s writing, his character work is idiosyncratic and captivating. Take for example these birds

There’s a casual alertness to the primary subject, and it strikes a pose that is indicative of it’s head movement. By illustrating the stillness at the end of an action, it subtlety gives the reader the image of it’s movement, and does so with an effortless naturalism. Another example comes in his illustration of an infant burping

It’s cartoony and simple, but it’s also incredibly expressive and vibrant. It’s facial expression clearly communicates the involuntary movement, yet it does so with a embellished clarity. Chiang’s expressiveness for his character’s, regardless of who or what they are, is one of the artists most appealing skill sets. Still, this is Paper Girls, so the artist is still going to swing for the fences on occasions, and for his troubles we get this

Pure surrealist beauty wrapped in the comics slightly left of center science fiction ethos. Chiang’s work on Paper Girls sometimes feels like Dragotta’s East of West for it’s Ditko meets Moebius sphere of influence in style, scope and technique; but it’s in a way here that is completely singular to Chiang himself; the affect of past greats is fully incorporated in his individual vision. Colorist Matt Wilson has built his career over the last few years in utilizing incredibly bright and pronounced color palettes to heighten the works detail and setting. There is subtle levels of shading in the primary green of the vegetation in this book that lends itself to the settings fidelity. His work on Paper Girls with the aid of Dee Cuniffe is mesmerizing and engrossing for it’s illusive dynamism.

Equal parts simple and extraordinary, familiar and alien; Paper Girls #13 is another installment that continues the series enthralling trajectory. With what appears to be so much more to come, after everything it’s already done, #13 is an individual installment that exemplifies the comic’s overall complex and multifaceted excellence.

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