Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
For comics, the 1980s were a Wild West in terms of experimental and varied content, with publishers large and small taking chances, and new creators coming into town and leaving before you had a chance to fully appreciate them. A recent post by Tom Spurgeon jogged my memory on a space-faring dog named Dalgoda who lived in a European-esque sci-fi world. The eight-issue series was released by Fantagraphics, and it was admittedly a strange title in the publisher’s output but fit inside the larger eclectic framework of the era. At the time, a certain group of mutated turtles were kicking up a storm. But unlike Eastman and Laird’s weapon-wielding terrapins, the Dalgoda series came and went without any discernible buzz or toy tie-ins.
The Dalgoda series, written by Jan Strnad with art by Dennis Fujitake, followed the dog-faced Dalgoda as an emmisary from the alien race the Canida sent to broker peace with Earth. It was some epic and eclectic space adventure when a third race intervenes to nix the potential Canida-Earth alliance and takes out Dalgoda’s fleet, leaving him to find refuge and resources with the outskirts of human society in space.
It was a fun series, and bolstered by a great pair of backups such as “The Bojeffries Saga” by Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse, and “Grimwood’s Daughter” by Strnad and Kevin Nowlan. After eight issues it went on a brief hiatus before a brief return in a new series, Flesh & Bones, before disappearing permanently. As time went on, it’s become one of those titles I’m surprised hasn’t been collected in a trade paperback but also half-worried it wouldn’t do well enough sales-wise to pay off for any publisher who took a chance on it. In 2010, Colin Smith wrote an endearing open letter to Dalgoda that’s worth reading if you’re in a reminiscing mood, which’ll give me time to buy up the back issues online on the cheap before you try to do it, too.