Seeing Paper Girls go from a comic book series to the small screen was one of the “happiest experiences” for creators Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, the duo tells Newsweek.
The comic book, which consists of six volumes in total, was written by Vaughan and illustrated by Chiang, and is such a personal project for the pair that they were keen to make sure the adaptation felt right.
Luckily, Vaughan and Chiang were in good hands with showrunner Christopher C. Rogers and his team, they explain to Newsweek.
Paper Girls Comic Creators Rave Over “Rewarding” Adaptation
Paper Girls follows 12-year-old girls Erin Tieng (Riley Lai Nelet), Tiffany Quilkin (Camryn Jones), KJ Brandman (Fina Strazza) and Mac Coyle (Sofia Rosinsky), who meet while doing their paper route after Halloween in 1988.
Their job takes a turn, though, when they suddenly find themselves embroiled in a Time War between two rival groups and are thrust into 2019.
Sharing his thoughts on the adaptation, Chiang said: “The comic is so personal to Brian and I and to see it turn into live-action, to see actresses really inhabit these roles has been really thrilling.
“And it’s amazing to see how they’ve expanded on the story. I think it’s a show that will reward people who are fans of the comic, but also people who’ve never read it.”
Vaughan added: “I love it. It’s just been one of the happiest experiences of my life because every time a cut comes in I watch it with my wife and my daughter, both beg to watch it.
“And to get to see how much they love it, and for very different reasons, it has just been truly rewarding. Just makes me very grateful for the work that Chris and his team have done.”
The co-creators then joked about how they’d “sold their souls” to get such perfect casting for Erin, Mac, Tiffany, and KJ.
When asked about the quartet, and the actors who play them, Brian said: “I read something online that said, ‘Did Cliff and Brian sell their souls to the devil to have characters be ripped out fully from the comic? of wizardry did this?’
“And we comic nerds are so specific in what we want out of our adaptations, and we’re never happy. When someone’s like, ‘oh, that person’s hair is wrong. That’s not how I pictured them sounding like,’ and universally anyone who’s read Paper Girls the moment they see that trailer they’re like, ‘Oh, my God, they got it completely right.’
“Just having worked in television before, knowing how hard it is to cast one person well, to get four people who not just look like the book, because that’s one thing to do, but just to [have] incredible performers that you just become so invested in, and the fact that they’re all roughly 12 years old is… Cliff, did you sell your soul for this?”
Chiang jokingly replied “yes, I did” to which Vaughan added that it “explains a lot” about how they managed to cast actors who could embody the characters they created back in 2015 so well.
Vaughan and Chiang act as executive producers for the show, but they were quick to give credit where credit was due when asked about their involvement with the series and how much advice they gave.
Vaughan said: “I don’t want to take any more credit, the credit really belongs to Chris and his writers and everyone that was there day in and day out.
“But Cliff and I were their sort of benevolent godparents, sort of watching from a distance as a resource to just say, ‘look, we’ll let you know if, as we’re watching and reading, if we feel you’re going off course.’
“And I’d love to be able to say that we came in frequently to be like, ‘Oh, no, you’re about to make a terrible mistake,’ but it was really just the easiest job I’ve ever had. It was just a delight.
“I think it was finding the right people and then just supporting them, and we found the right people, and we trusted them and we were really rewarded with that trust. With a show that is faithful to the spirit of the comic, but goes to some places that we never imagined going and I’m really happy with it.”
Paper Girls Showrunner on Adapting the Comics
Rogers first encountered Vaughan and Chiang’s comic book series while he was working as a bookseller at a store called Skylight Books in Los Angeles, the showrunner told Newsweek.
“I read it as a fan, I’ve read so much of the work by both of these guys,” Rogers told Newsweek. “So that when the opportunity came around to take on Paper Girls, my first impulse was like, ‘Yes! But I hope we don’t blow it because it’s so good and [so] beloved.”
“And you know, there are so many things that are adapted that we all are a little cringey about, because if Paper Girls was never filmed it would be a great story on its own, it didn’t have to be a TV show.
“But once we decided to take it on, I think we adopted a couple of principles that we really derived from these guys. which is take the kids seriously, you know, be able to kind of live in this tone.
“And it was, it was a really incredible process just because of the young actresses at the center of it and then obviously the older actors we were able to kind of attract to the project and huge world, and to have [Vaughan and Chiang] as our North Star to keep checking in the world, because otherwise, you know, it’s a big crazy story out there and it’s easy to get lost.”
Paper Girls will premiere in full on Prime Video on Friday, July 29.
Update 07/28/22 9:12 am ET: This article was updated to include a clip from Newsweek’s interview with Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang.