Paper Girls: 5 Things We Learned From The Comic-Con Panel

Comic book adaptations are so commonplace these days it almost feels like a forgone conclusion that any popular comic book will eventually get turned into a movie or TV show. It's not all superheroes, though, and, in many cases, that's where the best stuff lies. Such is the case with the acclaimed "Paper Girls," which comes from writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Cliff Chiang. Now, it's becoming a show on Amazon Prime Video, and the creators were on hand at San Diego Comic-Con 2022 to pull the curtain back just ahead of the series debut. We were on hand at the panel and are here to let you know what we learned about the time travel-centric, female-led, '80s throwback series.

How they approached the adaptation

Showrunner Chris Rogers was on hand at the panel and, at one point, discussed how they went about adapting what Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang had put on the page. This is not going to be a panel-for-panel interpretation but, make no mistake, Rogers took this very seriously. "Don't blow it," he joked, acknowledging that this is indeed a beloved comic and the source material is precious to many out there. Really, it's about expanding upon the material in the comics by giving us "scenes and moments implied just outside the panel." So while there may be stuff in the show that wasn't directly in the book, much of what was added was very much rooted in the source material.

The warring factions of time travel

The sci-fi series deals heavily with time travel, but it's not so simple as one man with a time machine or anything along those lines. It's actually quite complex, and there are two different factions who are on very different sides of how to deal with time travel: the STF and the Old Guard. Brian K. Vaughan said of the two groups that there is "one that's very passionate about time should not be changed," while the other group feels "If we have the capability to go back and make something better, we can." He also noted that he liked that "there's not really good guys or bad guys, they're just different perspectives."

The main cast never met until they arrived on set

The core cast of four young girls playing our paper girls in the show never actually met before filming, and that was very much by design. It was revealed during the panel that they were told explicitly not to meet beforehand so their bond could be organic, as it is in the show. They did, however, become very fast friends, with Camryn Jones explaining they "bonded over ice cream." I can anecdotally say I have been to a lot of these panels, but the chemistry and friendship between the four seemed quite genuine. As I will discuss momentarily, that plays out on screen as well. Riley Lai Nelet also said: "It felt like there were eight girls instead of four," explaining there were the characters and themselves. Plus, there are the future versions of themselves, with Ali Wong playing a grown-up version of Nelet's Erin.

The clips

During the course of the panel, we were treated to various clips from the series that helped to give a better idea of how things are going to look in context. The first of the clips gives us a sense of the relationship between our lead characters, with them having a confrontation in a tunnel with some boys seemingly taking place on Halloween. The friendship is strong despite how they are all clearly quite different. The second clip took place in the future and had a stronger sci-fi vibe to it, with two members of the warring time travel factions having a pretty brutal encounter.

The third clip got more into the time travel of it all, with the older and younger Erin meeting one another in the future. The way in which their individual freakouts about the realization was handled was, for my money, pretty well executed. The last clip gave us a good look at Larry, a new character in the show, meeting the four leads and introducing them to a giant robot, which was pretty neat. Amazon appeared to spare little expense. Overall, things seemed to gel well in the clips. Primarily though, the cast is strong all around.

Its approach to '80s nostalgia

One of the most interesting things that came up multiple times during the panel was how the filmmakers were approaching an '80s-set series. Nostalgia for the decade has been quite hip over the last handful of years with shows like "Stranger Things" performing incredibly well. However, Brian K. Vaughan said when they were crafting the story, they "wanted to do something anti-nostalgic." There was some talk about how the '80s are a bit glorified in hindsight, but some of that might be through rose-colored glasses. Vaughan also said he thought of it as more of a "death threat" to the '80s. Chris Rogers, meanwhile, added that he felt the '80s are often portrayed as a punchline, and that's not what they wanted to do, with the word "honest" used as a touchstone. Also, rather tellingly, Rogers said they aimed for "a little more 'Stand By Me,' a little less Amblin."

"Paper Girls" debuts on Prime Video on July 29, 2022.