Or Am I Origami

Jun 26, 2023


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Paper Planes cvr

If you ask the average individual to give you their life story so far, you better prepare to read through a rather lengthy tome.  But, could they sum it up on a single page?  In Paper Planes, two lifelong friends have one summer to change the script of their stories.  But will outside pressures affect the stability of their once seamless flight of friendship.   

Paper Planes

Mad Cave Studiios

Writer: Jennie Wood
Artist: Dozer Draws
Lettterer: Micah Myers

Paper Planes is an Original Young Adult Graphic Novel from Maverick, the young adult imprint of Mad Cave Studios.  The tale, from writer Jennie Wood, deals with a soaring childhood friendship that now faces a lot of resistance.  The story unfolds via a series of shifts between the present and flashbacks, showing readers the events which took place during the past year in the lives of middle schoolers Leighton Worthingtton and Dylan Render.  

Paper Planes int img

Similar to composite origami, on paper Dylan and Leighton’s worlds are very different.  Leighton Worthington lives a life that most would consider luxurious.  The book’s first flashback gives readers a glimpse at the “no expense spared” attitude of Leighton’s parents. They even rent out the entire skating rink for Leighton’s party and invite the entire third grade class. Still there are some lines they don’t want crossed.  Leighton’s parents create creases in any relationship, with friends or family, they feel with jeopardize their daughter’s future.  

Dylan Render’s home life is completely different from Leighton’s.  The Render’s are a single parent family, with Dylan’s mother working three jobs to take care of her family.  Already forming your own trajectory for Dylan, aren’t you?  So are Leighton’s parents and most of Dylan’s peers.  Young, fatherless and poverty level, does Dylan have any chance of soaring to loftier heights? Yet despite what society suggests Dylan is the more confident of the two.  Often throughout Paper Planes it is Dylan who acts as the wind beneath Leighton’s wings.  

Jennie Wood finds a very creative way to incorporate the title into this young adult graphic.  Whenever the two main characters aren’t able to communicate in private, or want to share a personal message, they use paper airplanes as mailing pigeons.  This is truly a fabulous story telling device for several reasons.  First, while Leighton really wants to be an artist, it is Dylan – who dreams of being an astronaut – that teaches the tennis star how to properly fold and fly a paper plane.  Later in the story when they each help someone else learn this technique there is one thing that becomes clear, nothing is as simple or easy as it seems.  Anyone can take a page, crinkle and crumble it up and shoot a basket.  However, to create something that can soar to above anything, even the gravity of life, is a process.  

It is evident from the early pages that Dylan and Leighton are at the alternative summer program due to some incident, but Paper Planes takes its time to reveal to readers the exact details.  Wood, with assistance from the art and colors from Dozer Draws, uses this time to make it clear that it has created a tear between these two.  Dozer Draws uses a slight tint or discoloration to distinguish the past events and those taking place at the camp.  This helps highlight the major difference between the friendship at camp and where it was only months ago.  They go from being two teens who were inseparable to almost strangers, with a sense of secretiveness and seclusion.  It is painful to witness these moments knowing especially since the flashbacks show how close they once were.  

Paper Planes int img

While there has never been a single story, Jennie Wood makes sure Paper Planes stays consistent with its plural form.  Throughout this tale of youthful uncertainty and expectations both Leighton and Dylan each take over as narrator.  With the complex, yet similar, range of  emotions they each experience it would have been difficult to keep track of who was speaking. Michah Myers makes sure the narrative boxes are as distinctly identifiable as the individual who is thinking the thoughts.  Dylan gets a powder pink narratory block, sometimes with a spaceship icon and Leighton’s is summer daffodil with roller skate.  With the seamless nature that the story transitions between who is narrating, this ensures the reader can keep track of not only who is thinking but where their head, and heart, is at each point during Paper Planes.  

Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual it does require tons of assembly.  Sorting through the assorted pieces in order to figure out what fits where is a complicated and time consuming process.  Paper Planes is both poignant and powerful.  This young adult graphic is worth a read and will indubitably invoke emotions no matter how you identify.  This is a story of transitioning through life; coming to terms with who you are.  Paper Planes looks at the process of giving yourself openly and authentically to another without hesitations, because of the way they make you feel.  About how all life’s assorted expectations, the choices we make – conscious and forced – can end the flight, bringing it all crashing to the ground. 

Take these broken wings.   

Score: 8.7