Brian K. Vaughan’s had a good deal of experience bringing his comic creations to screen with shows like Runaways and the under-appreciated Y: The Last Man series. Now he’s funneling all of that know-how and experience into a new show, Prime Video’s adaptation of Paper Girls.
It focuses on Tiff (Camryn Jones), Erin (Riley Lai Nelet), Mac (Sofia Rosinsky), and KJ (Fina Strazza), four papergirls living in a town called Stony Stream in the 1980s. Their story begins on November 1, 1988 to be exact, Hell Day. Things can get pretty rowdy in the wee hours of the morning on the day after Halloween, so the girls aren’t too surprised when they encounter some local bullies. But, they certainly don’t expect that encounter to end with them time traveling to 2019.
Vaughan, showrunner Christopher C. Rogers and Cliff Chiang who illustrated the Paper Girls comic and now serves as an executive producer on the series all swung by the Collider interview studio at San Diego Comic-Con to tell us a bit about how their past experiences have influenced their work on the Paper Girls series. Vaughan began:
“With each show I have learned that you have to find the right people and then you have to trust them, and you have to let them know, ‘We don’t want the karaoke version of our book. We don’t want you to just do beat for beat what we have already done. Cliff and I poured so much of ourself into this book, we want you to pour some of yourself into it.’ And that’s been true of every adaption I’ve worked on.”
Vaughan clearly knows what he’s doing at this point, but there’s one especially unique element of Paper Girls that’s not just a new thing for him, but something rather unusual for the industry in general. He continued:
“I think what’s new here is working with these young performers. Part of the reason we did the comic is, it’s really hard to do film and television with 12-year-old people, so we can do it as a comic, but if it ever becomes a show they’re gonna get 16, 17-year-olds. They’re gonna age them up. And the fact that they were able to find these extraordinary young people who fully embody our characters and are so amazingly talented, that’s not just something new for me. I think that’s something kind of new for television.”
As for Rogers, it’s been a good while since his last showrunning gig wrapped up. Before Paper Girls, Rogers and Christopher Cantwell both served as showrunner on the standout series, Halt and Catch Fire. When you make a show that good, one might expect showrunning opportunities to pour in after the AMC series wrapped up in late 2017. While the pair have worked on some other things in between, like co-executive producing Lodge 49, there was a five-year gap between showrunning Halt and Catch Fire and Paper Girls. Why the wait? Rogers explained:
“Halt and Catch Fire was such a special show that was six years of my life. I did it with Chris Cantwell, my dear friend. And the truth is, many things have to come together for a show to happen. We got our heart broken a couple times after Halt and it wasn’t until Paper Girls came around that the right thing shaped up again that we could really put ourselves into. I do think this is in some ways the spiritual heir to the things we were playing with in that series. Certainly it starts in the 80s as well, but it’s awesome to be able to approach new territory I think with some of the lessons learned from that show, so it’s been awesome to kind of stretch our wings.”
As much as we want to see screen adaptations honor their source material, just like Vaughan, Chiang also emphasized the importance of seeing Rogers and the team take what they created and make it their own:
“It’s kind of like the whole project has the same heart and feel that we put into the comic book and I’m so grateful for that. The writers, the whole team and the actresses, they really I think accepted the story, really assimilated it and want to kind of put out this new version of it that’s expanded and, in many ways, just an incredible new vision for it.”
All eight episodes of Paper Girls Season 1 are available to stream on Prime Video. If you’ve already done the binge and are looking for some updates on Season 2, Rogers couldn’t reveal specifics, but he did emphasize that, should they get the opportunity, they know where they’d like to go in a second season:
“I think it’s that, hold on loosely but don’t let go. We know some places we’d like to get but we are open to better ideas winning out. We absolutely have a direction planned for a second season and I just hope the gods smile on us and we get to do it.”
Looking for more from Vaughn, Chiang, and Rogers on Paper Girls? Be sure to check out our full SDCC 2022 conversation in the video interview at the top of this article!