It's not everyday that we get a new kind of heroine. A heroine that is unique in both their origin and in their approach to dealing with their situations. Comic books have a long history of female characters that are fully developed, but unfortunately they sometimes feel forced.
Today we have that new heroine story with Paradox Girl (PG). Written by Cayti Bourquin, and illustrated by Yishan Li, with editorial provided by Peter Bensley. PG is not your typical heroine let alone your typical super hero. Although time travel is no mysterious mechanic to comics; PG deals with it in the most unique way I have seen. She's funny, quirky, and unique. PG doesn't have a typical origin, as she has slipped forward and backwards so many times, that this is hard for her to even pin down what that is. Spending a good portion of her time literally living with and interacting with her past and future selves. With a brilliant layout that easily illustrates both non-linear and multi-linear storytelling. The artwork just feels right for this series, and with the standout narrative; You're not going to want to miss out on this series.
I was lucky enough to get a full copy of issue one to review, and do an email interview with Cayti and Peter. Check that out below:
Chali: The first thing that struck me about the Paradox Girl issue I read was the dialogue, art, and timeline. It felt kind of like a mix of Quinton Tarantino story telling with Axe Cop flair. This may all be in my head, so; What is the real inspiration for PG?
Cayti: That's an interesting if unconventional comparison. It's sort of great how different people approach art and what they see in it. It's a difficult question to answer I think. My writing style and creativity is a cumulative mix of the stories and storytellers I've been exposed to and the anxieties and issues of my personal life. I think that's probably true for all writers. I didn't sit down and think 'gosh, I want to make something like X with a bit of Y'. I know that the biggest influence on me has always been the late Satoshi Kon.
Chali: The first issue does a great job of laying out the pretext, and method for how a heroine with Paradox Girl's powers would use them. As well as making it clear, that her origin is lost even to her. But how did she get her powers, or is that just apart of the mystery?
Cayti: It's not really even a mystery to be explored. There's a hundred true stories, and at any given minute it could change. Paradox Girl doesn't really have an origin point anymore, which is ridiculous of course, but such is her nature. In pop culture time travel stories, we see impossible situations (such as the birth of John Connor) arise and wonder 'what happened the first time through?' PG is like that, but in a constantly refreshing loop. She gave herself the powers for all I know.
Cayti: I think PG's power over time sort of creates a time immutable state where, sure, she can be injured; but it's just another time jump away to stop her from being hurt in the first place. Even in the first issue we see her save herself from getting crushed, -which results in her being able to save herself from being crushed. We never get to see what happens if she hadn't done that. Seems silly typing it out, but in the book it really works. I think cause and effect are sort of broken when it comes to PG so expect lots of side effects from that in the future.
I bet she wishes she could shoot laser beams or something though.
Peter: Regarding PG getting knocked around - I recall that Cayti and I discussed that PG probably has some kind of danger sense arising from not being anchored in time. She never jumps into the past or future and finds herself inside solid rock. The same sense may tell her to jump away when her present is about to become immediately fatal. So she can be injured, but that instinctive awareness may protect her from anything that would obliterate her outright.
Chali: I really appreciated the layout and art styling that was used to communicate the non-linear and multi-linear timeline. In particular the "purple time string" that would travel out of one frame and into another with PG as she jumps through time. What is the real name for that?
Cayti: Thanks! One of the joys when writing the first script was being able to play with the format. Some of this ties back to your question about inspiration, and Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves is absolutely where that idea came from. The pages of the book themselves are not just the canvas, but part of the story itself. In the script it's just referred to as 'teleport in' or 'teleport out', which is sort of a boring name isn't it? Let's call them Paradox Skips.
Chali: A certain amount of attention has been placed on the sexualization and subordination of female characters to male characters in pop culture by some lately. PG obviously needs no man to save her, but have you caught any flack about her fighting monsters and crime in a short skirt and heels? And if so what do you have to say to haters?
Cayti: Not yet, but it's not unforeseeable. I guess my response is: she also fights giant monsters with a whisk, so she's not the most practical or sensible person anyway. Nor does she need to be. I certainly didn't imagine her to be oversexualized, just a woman who's confident in her appearance and likes business suits. If someone hates the fact that she has legs or breasts or other anatomy or clothing that they object to, I hope they can enjoy the comic anyway. It certainly wasn't my intent to upset them.
I think there is progress to be made in racial and gender equality and certainly to reduce as said, 'the subordination of female characters'. I want to be part of that progress, but that doesn't mean we all agree on how that should be done. I hope I'm making the right steps, but unfortunately I'm not Paradox Girl and cant' remember the future.
Chali: As of right now, your Kickstarter campaign has 263 backers and you've reached $8,571 of your $10,000 goal with 25 days to go. What are your plans for PG when this campaign is over? Will you continue to sell the issues outright from your site, selling them to the wider market through distributors, or will you be introducing a subscription style service?
Cayti: It's rather unbelievable to me that so many people would want to read the things I've written. Yishan has done an absolutely amazing job in breathing life into PG and getting her onto the page. I want to be able to continue to share stories and bring laughter (and tears) to people. I'm grateful to Hana Comics and to the Kickstarter community for giving me the opportunity to do so.Thank you!
Peter: I can field the question about future plans. Assuming this campaign is successful - and it's sure looking that way - we plan another campaign for issues 3-4, and then issues 5-6. At that point we'll be able to look at a TPB, which is much easier to get into stores than individual issues. The point of these campaigns, as well as to raise funds for production, is to connect PG with her potential fanbase. Depending on what that fanbase looks like when this round of campaigns is over, we'll make a decision about where to go from there - whether it's direct sales, selling through comic shops, more Kickstarter, something more web-based - we'll be looking at all the options to find what works best for both our character and her readers. It's all on the table.
I recommend that you go check out Paradox Girl. Go here to get a preview. And if you like what you see, please head on over to the Kickstarter campaign here. The campaign backer packages are pretty sweet! You can also checkout the official Paradox Girl website here.
Thank you for stopping by! I cannot thank you guys enough for your support. I was really concerned that since migrating to a new host took so long, that the site traffic numbers would have fallen off completely, but you guys have been coming back and providing feedback on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Your feedback means the world to me, and I'm always surprised that you guys actually like reading what I write.
I also want to give a shout out to Cayti and Peter, for giving me the opportunity to review and cover their work. Please follow @hanacomics to follow along for more updates!