Cayti Bourquin and Yishan Li’s Paradox Girl Makes Time for Top Cow

Paradox Girl shrugs helplessly as other versions of herself perform various actions around her.

Paradox Girl is her own worst enemy. Literally. With the power to accurately teleport through time and space on a whim, with not a care in the world and no consequences to worry about, this superhero is a recipe for fun and funny disaster. After two successful Kickstarters, the six-issue series will be published in May as a single volume by Top Cow Productions Inc. Creator Cayti Bourquin and artist Yishan Li chatted with WWAC about their eponymous hero and what’s in store for new fans of her antics.

Where did the idea for Paradox Girl come from?

Bourquin: As a comic, PG is kind of a toothless satire of comics, an exploration of tropes and cliches taken to ridiculous conclusions. I think it’s important for stories (and the fictional characters within them) to get closure, and I think we get so attached to these modern myths that we can’t ever let their stories end, and let them go. When I started writing Paradox Girl it was with this question in mind, of what happens to a character who’s been retconned over and over again. Who do they become?

As a character, she’s modeled after myself, mostly. Like a lot of people, I’ve struggled with questions of who I am and who I want to be. Throughout my twenties, I fictionalized this conflict with myself in a lot of very pretentious and angsty ways. Eventually that sort of broke through into Paradox Girl as she exists today. So she’s not just a light-hearted jab at the endlessness of modern comics, but also at myself. I think being able to laugh at yourself helps keep you sane.

How do you keep everything straight when creating each issue?

Bourquin: I’d love to say that I have these super organized flow charts that document her travel and various incarnations over the issues, but that’s just not true. Honestly, it’s more of a rolling process where I’ll come up with a funny bit and find a way to work it into the script, and later figure out how to make the time travel portion of it work out. When you get to introduce the “cause” after the “effect” it can be easier than you’d imagine writing. I really love to play with the format of the page and use it for more than just delivering the pictures or using it in a traditional way.

Li: Every time I got the script, I had to read it at least two to three times to make sure I understand the story and draw everything correctly. I think the readers will need to read it a couple of times too to get the full effect. This will be fun!

What is the inspiration for her outfit?

Bourquin: I think visually I was inspired by Portia de Rossi’s character “Nell” from Ally McBeal. Watching the show while growing up, I saw this strong, confident woman in the courtroom who was still a neurotic mess on her own. I think that’s part of Paradox Girl in a really fundamental way. PG wants people to think she’s cool, aloof, and refined, so she puts on this outfit that she thinks makes her look the way she thinks a grown-up is supposed to look, you know? Of course, she still doesn’t quite know how to act like an adult, and that provides a lot of the comedy.

The response to your Kickstarters was probably very exciting and even overwhelming, but you’ve consistently delivered on your promises, both in terms of stretch goals and a great story. How does it feel to now be working with Top Cow on this project?

Bourquin: It’s great to be working with a high profile publisher like Top Cow. It feels like everyone we put Paradox Girl in front of loves it, but finding ways to bring the book to market on our own has been exhausting. Top Cow has the expertise and resources to bring our stories to a much wider audience than we could on our own.

Li: I can’t thank Matt Hawkins enough for this great opportunity! I love Paradox Girl so much myself, thinking it could be one of the best stories I have worked on, and can’t wait to reach a wider audience and share the enjoyment!

What have you learned from the Kickstarter and publishing processes?

Bourquin: Kickstarter was an amazing experience and so very nerve-wracking. I’ve been very lucky and sheltered from most of the process by my team at Hana Comics. I can say that the feedback we got from fans was incredible, and it was a real joy working on the little four page issues we made with our higher tier backers, which we’ll be including in the TPB.

Li: I love posting things on Facebook and getting likes. Kickstarter is way more than that. Watching people not only send likes, but also giving REAL money, is extra exciting. Of course, the amount of books we have to sign before sending them out is backbreaking! There were so many boxes in my living room after the first Kickstarter, and it cost a fortune to post them forward and backward between us to sign them all. So in the second KS we just signed stickers to stick on the covers of the books instead 🙂

An issue of Paradox Girl featuring autograph stickers

If you could go back in time without consequence, what would you do? What would you change?

Bourquin: This is such a loaded question! At its deepest, Paradox Girl is a story about the consequences of regret and wanting to change things. I think it’s impossible to really know how changes in our past would really affect us, so I think it’s important to always appreciate what we have now, and value the choices that took us there.

Of course, this is just avoiding your question, so I’ll do my best! If I could really go back in time without consequences, I think I’d go back to the 1940s to attend the premiere of Gone With the Wind. I feel like I’m supposed to answer with something more exciting like going to see dinosaurs, but I don’t do well in the wild! If I could change anything consequence-free (now that’s a paradox), I’d try to promote women’s rights/equal rights a few centuries earlier. No idea how I’d do that, but seems like a worthwhile change.

Li: Change nothing. If I want anything changed, I would start from now, not from the past. But of course, I’d love to observe big events because I am just too curious not to watch. Beat any reality show, isn’t it?

What could other famous time travelers learn from Paradox Girl?

Bourquin: Lighten up! They’ve got all the time in the world. Time travelers seem far too stressed with the drama unfolding in front of them. They don’t need to rush into anything. Just take their method of time travel, go get a mocha, have a think, and then get back to solving the problem.

Li: Agreed. What’s the worst that could happen anyway? And if it really happens, just blame Paradox Girl.

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.