This weekend sees the debut of the first season of Paper Girls, Prime Video’s long-awaited adaptation of the beloved Image Comics series. The genre-bending drama follows four young girls — Erin Tieng (Riley Lai Nelet), Mac Coyle (Sofia Roskinsky), Tiffany Quilkin (Camryn Jones), and KJ Brandman (Fina Strazza) — who, while out delivering papers on the morning after Halloween in 1988, become unwittingly caught in a conflict between warring factions of time-travelers, sending them on an adventure through time that will save the world. As they travel between our present, the past, and the future — they encounter future versions of themselves and now must choose to embrace or reject their fate.
The series, which has already become a hit amongst critics and fans, takes a surprising and satisfying approach to adapting Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s original work on the comic, with the help of a stellar ensemble cast. Jones, Nelet, Roskinsky, and Strazza remain at the emotional core of the series, embodying their comic counterparts with a stunning ease, and creating a dynamic that viewers are surely going to fall in love with.
In celebration of Paper Girls‘ Prime Video debut, ComicBook.com got a chance to chat with Jones, Nelet, Roskinsky, and Strazza about their work on the series. We spoke about all of the various twists and turns of Season 1, filming Season 1 in the Chicago area, and their hopes for the show’s long-term future. Spoilers for the first season of Paper Girls below! Only look if you want to know!
ComicBook.com: What drew you to this project, and to the comic? Were any of you aware of the comic beforehand, or was it a story you dove into when you were auditioning?
Camryn Jones: I dove into it as I was auditioning and then I was hooked immediately. And I’m still hooked. Yeah.
Fina Strazza: I started reading the comics after my first audition, because I loved the scripts. I thought they were great, to have kids in this with real scene work to do. So I read the comic and I fell in love with the color palette, and Cliff’s drawings, and Brian’s real developed characters, and I just knew I had to be a part of this project. And luckily I was given the opportunity to, with these lovely ladies.
Riley Lai Nelet: My experience is very similar to Fina’s. I feel the exact same way.
Sofia Rosinsky: Yeah, I’m a newcomer to the comic book and graphic novel world, and this was an excellent introduction. I love Paper Girls. When the audition came in [with] “time travel”, that immediately makes my ears perk up. And much like these guys, I just dove into it during the auditioning process.
It seems like Brian and Cliff were both very involved with the show, and it’s awesome to see the creators be involved. Did you collaborate with them at all, and what was that process like?
Jones: Mr. Brian and Mr. Cliff, they have very heavy influence in the scripts. They helped write it. So they’re always very involved in the show and they always give it [a] thumbs up of approval on everything.
Strazza: Yeah. So the show does remain canonically correct, and we have their blessing with everything. We got to meet them over Zoom. We hadn’t met them in person yet.
Nelet: They’re the men behind the curtains. They’re great.
Sofia — Mac’s cancer storyline and all of her family stuff are both so well executed in the show, and it’s such a huge part of the comic. What was it like to play that and explore that, especially when it’s so different from the source material in some really fun ways?
Rosinsky: Right? As far as Mac’s fate, so I got to work with an excellent actor, absolutely. He was so generous and giving. Cliff Chamberlain, he plays Mac’s older brother, and when I was filming with him, when we’re in the scene together, he just takes you away immediately. Right then and there, it was a very quick development of that brother and sister relationship. And it was so interesting to be able to explore that with him, because our dynamic has changed, because of course, he’s much older than he was back when my character knew him. But he still demonstrates that he still has that rough little punk inside of him.
Fina — KJ’s coming out storyline is one of my favorite parts of the season, the scene where she realized that she “likes movies” was so beautiful. What was it like to play that storyline?
Strazza: Yeah, I think it was a really special story to bring to life. That storyline is very important to a lot of the fans of the comics, and it’s just truly an honor to get to live it out. Hopefully, I do it justice. The actresses I got to work off of were great to work in scenes with. And I tried to handle KJ’s story very delicately, because she has grown up in the 80s where that is not okay. She has to come to terms with growing up around the AIDS crisis, and hearing people say that HIV and AIDS are God’s way of cleaning house. It was very interesting to see her first discover herself, and then come to terms with it, and I’m excited for audiences to go on that journey with her.
Erin and Tiffany
Riley and Camryn — I love the dynamic that both of you have with your respective older selves. I think you guys mirror each other in some really beautiful ways. What was the process like, to play off of someone who’s playing an older version of you? Did either of you shadow the other person, or vice versa?
Nelet: In the story, it all happened so fast, and in the process of filming, it was very similar. It was very fast-paced. So when our adrenaline was up, we really played off of each other’s performances, and I think that really affected how it showed on screen.
Camryn: Sekai [Abeni], who played my older self, she was amazing. She was so great to work with. She became another big sister to me, and it was just cool to form that relationship with her. I feel like Tiff grew that big little sister bond with her older self in that short time, so it was cool to have that with Sekai in the real world.
Being from Chicago, I loved seeing how the show utilized different locations and different parts of the city. What was your favorite part about filming in Chicago?
Nelet: I think it was us just hanging out together.
Strazza: We made a habit of going to Jenny’s almost every weekend, and getting to explore the museums that are available in the city. It was just really great.
Nelet: Also whenever we were filming in the suburb areas around Illinois, there would always be a playground in that area. So whenever we had breaks, we would run to the playground and mess around. The crew would get mad at us because they’re afraid we would get hurt, but it was fun.
Jones: We were always on the swing set.
Nelet: Oh my God, we were pushing each other so aggressively.
Strazza: Or we would all stand around the swing — If it was a tire swing, we would stand around it, and one of our PAs would sit on it… And we’d shove them around. And that was a lot.
Jones: I think it was cool how none of us were [from] here. None of us had really experienced Chicago before, so we got to all experience that together.
Rosinsky: Yeah. Being from California, I have come to respect greenery, because there’s not a whole lot of that left in California. It’s very dry and fiery. So just Illinois itself, it’s so green and luscious and vibrant, and I love seeing that. I [had my] eyes wide open, looking all around through the windows. It’s beautiful here. And the people are fantastic — very kind, open-hearted people. And getting to experience it with these guys. Oh! And [lightning] bugs! I’ve never seen one before.
What would you say surprised you the most about the experience of working on the show?
Nelet: I knew that I would have a lot of fun, but I had more fun than I expected. I think we bonded together so well, and we really became very close. I didn’t realize how much I would miss it until we finished wrapping. So I hope that we have Season Two and continue the story.
Strazza: And our entire audition process was over Zoom. It was all virtual. So our chemistry reads were all over Zoom. I don’t think I was prepared for how much chemistry we would have on screen, because I mean, how do you test chemistry over Zoom when we’re all in different states? Is this really going to work? But then it turned out beautifully. That was really wonderful.
Jones: For me, there were two things. Every time I would get a script, I’d be like, “I’m going to guess how this is going to happen when we actually do it,” and it would always be different than what I thought. I just thought that was so cool. And then the second thing, it was surprising that they actually did have kids delivering paper at 5:00 in the morning, 4:00 in the morning. I don’t know why, but it just the fact that it actually happened.
Rosinsky: Actually Camryn, what you just said is pretty cool, because the show sort of opened up a part of my family history that I hadn’t delved into quite as much. My two uncles were both paper boys, and one of my uncles would go and deliver paper through suburbia, and my other uncle had his route was on the wrong side of the tracks. And on days where they just didn’t feel like doing it, or if they were out of town or something, my mom would cover for them, both of their routes. So my mom was a paper girl, and I just thought that was really exciting. I would be on the phone with my uncle, and he’d be telling me all these stories about — for instance, he was 13 at the time, and on this one street, there was always this mean old man who would come outside of the house and wait for him, and he would always try to fight him. He would come and try to deliver the paper, and the old man would try to take him off the bike and try to fight him, and my uncle would try to ride past as fast as possible. That’s just something that I thought was cool, that this sort of opened up another part of my family history. And another thing that was unexpected was — I really didn’t realize how hot and humid Chicago can get in the summer.
Strazza: We’re always told how cold it is, and then it was so boiling hot.
Adina & Jason
What it was like working with Adina and with Jason — I’m a huge fan of Jason’s and of his comedy, and it was so much fun to see him on the show, and the dynamic that all of you have is so much fun. So what was it like building that for the finale?
Jones: He was hilarious. I’m just going to say that. He was so funny, and I feel like we all learned something from him, just by the way he acts and how he carries himself and how he prepares. It was great to have both him and Miss Adina being around, because it was so cool to just see them in their element.
Nelet: [Camryn and I] didn’t really get to work with them as much, but he definitely made an impact.
Strazza: Oh, for sure. And Adina is just so… when you’re in her presence, you can just tell how powerful [she is]. Riley has said graceful, and it’s true. Even when she’s doing her scary things, she does it with such grace. And Jason is phenomenal. He’s truly wonderful to work with.
Rosinsky: Yeah, I agree. Adina is definitely sort of the picture of elegance and strength. And with Jason — first of all, his improvisation. Each time they would say, “Action,” you’re just waiting to see what he’s going to do. And his use of comedy in his role, I think really takes the scariness of his character to a different level. It really makes for a chilling performance.
The last couple minutes of the finale are just so amazing. It’s crazy going from this more intimate story into a full-blown sci-fi show. What was it like to play that element, and have these gigantic sci-fi things all around you?
Strazza: Sometimes it was great. Sometimes, not so great. Some of the sets were larger-than-life cool. Some were very confined, very small and not so great. I have some claustrophobia, and so Nate [Corddry] and I — Nate is also claustrophobic, and so we bonded over that a bit. It looks great on screen, but we used the fear. But it was so cool to get to work with these awesome, larger-than-life sets.
Nelet: You were very brave for doing that.
Jones: I thought it was really cool, because our set team would build a lot of the props and the sets, and it felt like we were in it. It wasn’t just our characters living it, it was us as well. And it was cool to just take behind-the-scenes pictures with it as well. They’re just funny sometimes, because it’s this most serious prop and then we’re just [being silly].
Rosinsky: I think if you just took a snapshot of one of the ending scenes in the finale, and then a snapshot of how it in the beginning of the show, I think that’s actually pretty hilarious to see… How did they get there? How could they possibly have gone this wrong?
Strazza: You guys had one job: deliver papers!
Jones: Well, technically it wasn’t our fault! It was not our fault.
If the show does get a second season, what are you most excited to explore?
Rosinsky: Diving into the character’s arcs, each one of their arcs, I’m really excited. I would be very excited to see how each of the characters change and develop throughout this whole wild thing. And getting to see more time periods. I really am a sucker for time travel and period pieces, and I just love seeing that. I’m looking forward to that, and getting, hopefully, to come back to Chicago and explore even more around here.
Strazza: I’m excited to see how/if the characters become the future versions that we see in the show. And see them becoming themselves.
Nelet: I think, also, just to dive even deeper into their very unique arcs. If we do, hopefully, get a new season, to see how much they’ve grown and see how they work together and see how much they’ve learned at season one as well, and how they apply that to the future.
Jones: I agree. I’m really excited to see how their relationships grow and to see how our characters evolve within themselves.
Once the show is out in the world, what are you most excited for fans to react to?
Strazza: The girls, they get along pretty well most of the time, but I’d like to see what they think of when they don’t get along so well. Those moments, I want to know what people think of them.
Nelet: There’s a lot of that 12-year-old [bickering]…
Rosinsky: Yeah, Definitely to see what people think of their arguments and…
Nelet: It feels like you’re actually having a conversation with them.
Rosinsky: Yeah, definitely. And special effects, of course. And just getting to see these guys in action. These guys look like they flew off the page and just started walking around and talking.
Jones: I’m excited to see the period scene. That’s going to be fun.
Your characters on the show are basically superheroes in their own right, but are there any superhero characters or superhero universes that any of you would love to be a part of, if you were given the opportunity?
Nelet: I would love to be a part of the Batman universe. One of the Batgirls, Cassandra Cain, is my dream character to bring into an adaptation. That’s something that I’ve been hoping for. I’ve been training to do my own stunts, and I’m one belt away from my black. So yeah. The Batman universe, to play Cassandra Cain.
Jones: I think it would be so cool to be in the Black Panther universe, or in the Marvel universe at all. I think that would be so awesome.
Strazza: I agree. Anything in the MCU would just be incredible, and the DCU. I love Spider-Man. That would be really cool.
Rosinsky: I love Doctor Who. When I was little, I always thought that was so magical. So for me, it would probably be as far as sci-fi goes, The Doctor Who world.
The first season of Paper Girls is now available to stream on Prime Video.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.