I love time travel, from Doctor Who to FAQ About Time Travel, mixing time travel and comedy is a tried and tested formula which can’t help but win us over, Paradox Girl is a time travelling comic book that does just that. Written by Cayti Bourquin with art by Yishan Li, it is currently raising funds for it’s first printing over on Kickstarter. I got a chance to put a few questions to writer Cayti Bourquin.
A Place to Hang Your Cape: Can you give us a little run through of who and what Paradox Girl is?
Cayti Bouquin: So, Paradox Girl as a comic is a light-hearted time travel comedy about a super hero (the titular Paradox Girl) and her antics. Paradox Girl has the power to teleport to anywhere and anywhen she chooses at a whim, but isn’t terribly level headed, nor responsible about how she uses that power. Predominantly this means running into herself a lot and having to deal with other versions (past and future) of herself. Ostensibly it’s a superhero comic, but it focuses much more on the wackiness of her misuse of her power than conflict with villains.
AP2HYC: Where did the idea for Paradox Girl come from?
Cayti: In my early twenties I had a lot of that typical existential woe-a conflict between the person I was and the person I wanted to be. A way of expressing those thoughts and frustrations was through escapism and storytelling. The seed of Paradox Girl began back then, with a much darker, more angsty version that I’m embarrassed to relate. The central idea though, was that she was someone in a constant state of literal conflict with herself, a walking contradiction. As I grew up so did she, and eventually the idea solidified in to the much more relatable and funnier Paradox Girl.
Beyond that, there’s a sort of meta commentary about comics and the constant continuity and unending stories.. Instead of saying goodbye or closing the stories on lots of the big iconic characters they suffer through rewrites, retcons and reboots. PG is a satire of that, a hero who isn’t really even sure what her origin story is anymore it’s changed so many times.
AP2HYC: Paradox Girl doesn’t have a back story, is it possible that in future issues one might be discovered?
Cayti: No! I mean, no? Unlike Paradox Girl I can’t remember the future. Part of being true to the writing of the character means accepting the ever changing nature of her past. Part of the fun too is that the true ‘origin’, the first cycle doesn’t exist anymore, and now it’s just a mess of overlapping patterns and memories and constantly shifting origin stories. It’s similar to the John Connor origin in the Terminator franchise, in that there never was a timeline without that predestination loop that created him. (He sends his own father back in time to protect his mother, and that conceives him. Spoilers!) Likewise for PG, it’s just a lot messier, instead of a single definable predestination loop, it’s eternity of them.
Hopefully we’ll get a chance to explore some of that though-and some of what it’s like to be without a past.
AP2HYC: I love the way the story goes in circles, do you work the whole thing out in advance?
Cayti: The first issue, “A Day in the Life of a Paradox”, came to me late one night when I was trying to sleep. I kept giggling to myself about some of the ideas (especially the page loops, where she transitions into the past by jumping from one page to the next). Eventually I just had to get up and write it. I do spend a lot of time making sure that despite it being silly and obviously impossible, that the logic of it still works out. That first issue is immensely rewarding to reread once you know where all the time loops are.
Subsequent issues won’t always work out the same way, but should always make sense. The series isn’t ‘serial’ in the traditional sense where each issue follows the previous one. Future issues will overlap events of previous ones or even create explicit paradoxes between the issues where both can’t be true (and yet are). I really want each issue to be able to be picked up and read, independent of any other; that you can read them in any order and always find new things between them.
AP2HYC: If you could have any time traveller cross paths with Paradox Girl who would it be?
Cayti: I think most other time travellers would go cross eyed. I can only imagine how much of a freak out Dr. Brown or THE Doctor would have if they found out how irresponsible she is with her use of time travel. I think if I got to pick another time traveller to cross paths with her, it’d have to be Ash from Evil Dead/Army of Darkness. That’s a man who needs a lift home.
AP2HYC: What comics inspired you to write?
Cayti: A lot of my exposure to comics was second hand. I had a lot of friends who were into them, or I would watch cartoons or movies based on them. I think the first comic I bought for myself was Four Women by Sam Keith. I really liked Preacher and Sandman as well. I think a lot of what’s drawn me to comics is the potential of the medium itself.
AP2HYC: Do you have any advice for aspiring comic book writers?
Cayti: I feel like I’m super under qualified to answer that question. I don’t really know what the path to commercial or ‘mainstream’ success is, because I’m not there yet either.
I guess my advice is two layered. The first is to write for yourself and for those you want to share the story with, not because you want to be popular or make it your job. The second is to just keep writing If it is something you want to do and enjoy doing, then it’s something worth spending your time on whether something comes of it or not.