Crowdfunding Paradox Girl, a Lesson in Time-Travel — an Interview

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)


Convention Schedule for Yishan Li:

Feb 27-28 Capital Sci-Fi Con,
Edinbugh, Scotland

March 19-20 Newcastle Film
& Comic Con
, Scotland

April 7-9 Middle East Film
& Comic Con
, Dubai

April 1-May Granite City Comic Con,
Aberdeen City, Scotland

June 25-26 MCM Belfast,
Northern Ireland

July 2-3 MCM Ireland,

Cayti Bourquin is the writer/creator of a new kind of heroine, codenamed: Paradox Girl, illustrated by Yishan Li. Together, both this duo and and Peter Bensley, editor of Hana Comics, are taking to crowdfunding on Kickstarter to help this comic book take off. They are well past their goal, and the team believes there’s a market for this special kind of independent hit.

This character is very different from the normal type of heroes found in print and the story looks at a problem found with stories involving time-travel — just how do you deal with altering anyone’s personal time stream? The television series Doctor Who dodges the issue and CW’s Legends of Tomorrow has yet to consider the bigger picture. The pilot episode already altered the timeline with how Professor Boardman passed on — or was the incident meant to be? Even in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the 2012 animated series, the heroes in the half-shell went back in time to pretend they are Yokai only to save their sensei. The most craziest of situations was explored in Futurama, Bender’s Big Score. Just how these other properties addresses the issue of altering time-lines makes for great story-telling and Bourquin has a plan in mind for her Paradox Girl (PG). She may seem to be an ordinary hero, but there’s more to her than meets the eye, especially when she has to live with all her future selves.

At least the hit here is that issue #2 will happen. There’s still two weeks left to this campaign. Readers might want to take note of possible convention appearances as they get announced by Bensley. Artist Yishan Li will be attending Europen conventions with this product. Although shy, perhaps Cayti Bourquin can be encouraged to appear for autograph signings in a tour at shows in North America.

Otakunoculture spoke with Bensley and Bourquin about this product:

Please tell me more about your background, like in what drew you into using the graphic arts to tell your story, and in why is the comic book medium appealing?

CB: I think what drew me to comics first and foremost is the idea that it’s this wonderful fusion of written word and visual art. With a comic I have to be explicit about the number, position and framing of each panel, as well as the content of the panel. Trying to communicate action and motion in each static panel is a challenge, but one that’s very interesting to me. Being able to play with the medium as well (having PG jump from panel to panel or page to page) is a lot of fun.

I think it’s always important when picking a medium to tell a story that you know the sort of effect that medium has on your story. Video games require giving your ‘audience’ some measure of control over the events in exchange for immersion. Movies and TV are more of a passive ‘absorption’ experience. Traditional books invoke the imagination and require the reader to do the visualizing themselves.

Paradox Girl is ostensibly a super hero, and there’s a familiarity and connection between that genre and the medium, it was just a natural fit.

What made you decide to turn to Kickstarter to continue the story?

PB: We wanted to find our audience. Kickstarter gives us a platform for reaching people who have never heard of Paradox Girl before, and gives them the chance to get involved immediately. Previously we had Issue #1 up on our site and Comixology Submit for a year. The people who bought it, loved it, but not many people knew it was there. This way we can not only reach people, but those people can immediately start helping us to make more, whether by pledging themselves or spreading the word.

How did you team up with Yishan Li?

PB: We had this comic script and we knew it was good but we didn’t have an artist, so we asked ourselves, “who in an ideal world would illustrate this?” And the answer was Amanda Connor. So we got in touch with her husband and agent Jimmy Palmiotti and of course she was booked up, but he suggested we go to comic conventions and just see who was available there.

So a few months later I’m at MCM Expo in London, wandering around Artist Alley in my mask and goggles – I wasn’t cosplaying as Star Lord, just trying to keep my allergies at bay – barely able to see the art I’m evaluating, and Yishan was there at her booth and I picked up her card and she ended up on our shortlist. It only took her two concept sketches to get the character down.

Do you think her manhua (Chinese comics) illustrative style came into place to establish PG’s look?

CB: I’d always had this like, vibrant energy in mind for Paradox Girl, which is pretty hard to capture in a still image, right? Whoever we worked with needed to be able to make Paradox Girl shine off the page. Yishan has absolutely brought that and dazzled me utterly with her interpretations and style. I may have created Paradox Girl, but I honestly and truly feel that Yishan made PG ‘real’.



When reading issue #1 and she’s in full make-up, I could not help but think of The Joker because of how well splattered the laughter onomatopoeia is everywhere. In your heroine’s case, perhaps she’s something like Harley Quinn?

CB: No question that I love Harley. Batman: The Animated Series was the primary exposure to super hero culture I got as a child. PG is less psychopathic than the adorable clown princess, but I feel like she shares a ditzy wide-eyed view of the world. For Paradox Girl any moment could be redone, so there’s not much point in thinking things through, so she’s fallen into the habit of just acting on her whims.

One detail I like with the illustration is with how the threads tie PG from one panel to the other, to indicate where in the time-line that particular “iteration” is going. How did that idea come about?

CB: My inspiration from playing with the medium came from a book called House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski. In it, he plays with the words on a page, creating senses of claustrophobia and exploration in the way the words are arranged. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before or have ever seen since. With comic books you have this expected order of events that follows down the page and then from the left page to the right page. Since those are expected to be chronological, it’s easy to ‘experience’ the time travel of PG by watching her move from the right page to the left page to have a conversation with herself, before ending up on the right page to do what you’ve already watched her do.

I feel that it really helps the reader follow Paradox Girl and not have to get a map or spoiler guide to really put together all of her journey.


How big is the universe? We have heroes that PG meets and monsters from TOHO Studio’s Kaiju catalog, and I have to wonder what else she will be facing?

CB: In the second issue we actually get to see the origin story of that Kaiju! (more on that later). We have all sorts of wacky monsters and super villains in store for Paradox Girl, and much of her setting is a pastiche of other settings. The series itself is sometimes of a satire of other super hero comics, so who knows what she’ll run into?

PG’s greatest enemy is of course herself. Anytime Paradox Girl is fighting or facing some conflict, the real meat of the story is in her conflict with herself or the effects of changing things. For someone who has an infinite amount of time and do-overs, she doesn’t tend to concern herself very seriously with ‘saving the world.’

How influential would you say other time-travel stories have been in your crafting of what PG does? That is, the grand-daddy of all paradoxes that needed to be avoided was addressed in the Back to the Future trilogy. Did you have to think a lot about what makes PG unique?

CB: I love all sorts of time travel stories, but they frequently run into that wall of paradoxes and how dire it is that they be avoided. Many time travel stories basically end up just being ‘lets go have fun in X time period’.

Paradox Girl (as it says in the name) jumps right into the paradoxes in full force. As she says in the first issue ‘do you know what happens when you violate causality?’ and then answers ‘by definition nothing’. Now it might make you think ‘well nothing is going to make sense then’. And though effect can come before cause, thanks to the pink lines we talked about earlier, everything somehow adds up.


What kind of themes do you plan on exploring in future issues?

CB: While most of the content is lighthearted and whimsical, we’ll see what it’s like for Paradox Girl to struggle with timelessness and the lack of consequence. Loss, identity and regret are underlying themes of the character and while juggling that whimsy, we’ll deal with some of those deeper concepts.

In a more meta concept, the series is, as mentioned, a satire of more mainstream comics. We have characters with decades of history that are constantly forced to deal with new issues (pun intended!), and push aside old ones. They suffer from reboots, retcons and rewrites all the time. Here we have a character who is in a more literal sense, doing that to herself.

How many issues are planned?

PB: We have six issues planned, but Cayti has ideas for many more. Our plans are flexible to meet the needs of our backers – if they’re willing to fund it, we’ll make it.

CB: And if we manage to find an audience and people want more, I have the next six scripts outlined and ready to go. Ultimately I probably have story seeds for about 24 or so issues. I hope we get a chance to do them all!

Where will the story go in future issues?

CB: The fun bit about writing Paradox Girl is that by the protagonist’s very nature there isn’t a real chronological order to things. So events from each of the issues can overlap each other, and even contradict one another. The Paradox Girl of one issue might go back to change the events of a previous issue or vice versa. It’s important to me for each issue to be a full and self-contained story, but to have underlying threads and events that connect the issues that rewards fans to go back and read earlier issues to get a new perspective on the actual chronological order of the events.

I sort of avoided the question there, so I’ll give you a teaser of issues to come. Issue 2 involves Paradox Girl just trying to get a goodnight’s sleep. Issue 3 is Memento-like and tells a story in reverse chronological order in an effort to figure out what PG was trying to accomplish.

I have this grand idea for an end story eventually called “Crisis on Infinite Girls” which brings PG’s story to a conclusion and gives the girl without time some measure of closure.

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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