Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
I will admit, Kevin Huizenga had me worried there for a moment. I was thinking, “Wow, this isn’t the book I expected,” but then, after the first story, it became exactly the book I expected, a well-constructed, well-written examination into the everyday life of title character, Glenn Ganges.
What a great comic book.
The first story in this oversized second issue is a very interesting idea, which is that we, the reader, see this rather bizarre interaction between two odd creatures. As the story progresses, we realize that this surreal little action story is actually the workings of a video game, from the perspective of the video game characters.
Very clever idea, of course, but like I said above, what I especially love about Huizenga’s work is his brilliant examinations into everyday life, so while I appreciated his artistic skill in giving us the video game story, I was fretting a bit that this was going to be what the whole comic was about.
Luckily for me, the video game story was a springboard into a wonderful story about Glenn’s history with a certain video game that he played with his co-workers at a software company in the late 90s/early 00s, and how the video game began to have an influence upon their lives, while the company was falling apart around them.
It was poignant, true-to-life and engaging, and Huizenga’s artwork captured it all beautifully, as well, from the depictions of the game itself to the various characters who were working at the company at the time. I especially loved his characterization of the CEO of the company, a self-proclaimed “money man” who was brought in to oversee the company, which was the creation of a brilliant programmer who didn’t know how to handle the business himself.
This is more or less a more realistic take on the same story that you saw in the film, Office Space, which I am sure most people who work in an office can attest was quite realistic on its own accord.
I absolutely adore the way Huizenga presents us Glenn, with all of his faults and his good qualities, and just lets Glenn work his way through the stories. You see Glenn being a good guy, you see Glenn being introspective, you all see Glenn being a pushover, you see Glenn being a bit of a coward. It’s top-notch character work.
All in all, by the time you get to the video game salute at the end of the comic, you will have become attached to these group of characters in a big way, and that’s a sign of an excellent comic book writer, which Kevin Huizenga certainly is.
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