4 1980’s Inspired Stories to Get Excited About
The 1980’s Called…
The 80’s are back in a big way, and I’m not just talking about high waisted jeans, Farrah Fawcett hair, and synth-pop. These days, you’re hard-pressed to find a television show, movie, video game, or comic book that hasn’t been influenced in some way by 80’s pop culture. We love it here at TNL. Give us your aliens and ghosts, latchkey kids, weary and caffeine-fueled police officers, mysterious government officials, and spunky female protagonists. We’ll watch it, read it, play it. And if you’re anything like us, then you’ll watch it, read it, and play it, too.The following are four recent 80’s inspired stories that are completely 100% worth your time.
If you have a Netflix account and haven’t binge-watched the ever living heck out of Stranger Things, then you need to go do so IMMEDIATELY. When a young boy goes missing in a Podunk town in Indiana, his friends set out to find him and, SPOILER ALERT, discover a telekinetic girl in the woods instead. I think our editor-in-chief, Gaby, said it best in her piece, “Feminism in Stranger Things: an Ode to Eleven”:
“In summary, the undisputed general consensus is a resounding ‘Hell, yes.’ Was it the 80s flair that did it? The continuous homage to Spielberg (and Lynch)? The subtle Stephen King vibe? The phenomenal acting of Winona Ryder? Probably a little bit of everything.”
From its opening credits, to the lighting, to the synth-poppy soundtrack, to Barb (and all of the other characters), Stranger Things is simply PHENOMENAL. It is as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. And I dare you not to fall a little in love with Chief Hopper. I dare you. He did provide us with this line after all:
So you binge-watched Stranger Things and have no idea how to fill the gaping void in your life. Well, if you happen to play video games, you might just be in luck. If you don’t play video games, then now’s the time to start.
Oxenfree is a fantastic, dialogue-based, coming-of-age walking simulator. Oxenfree is also a scary-as-hell supernatural thriller. You play as Alex, a teenage girl who sneaks onto a secluded beach to party with her friends for a night of drinking and debauchery. Sounds like fun, right? It is… at least until they accidentally anger some ghost-creatures and start experiencing time-loops, both of which have some pretty gnarly consequences. Oxenfree also cleverly uses static-y radio frequencies to help make the story as terrifying as possible. Throughout the game, you can pick up signals that don’t actually exist. Think Stand By Me meets Poltergeist. And as for its ending? Well, without any spoilers let me tell you that it has one of the most unsettling outcomes I’ve ever come across in a video game.
Is leave possible? You’ll have to play to find out.
by Dan Watters and Caspar Wijngaard
Speaking of static and time loops…
I’ve written about Limbo on TNL before, and I’m here to write about it again. Limbo is a six part series that tells the story of Clay, an amnesiac detective who sets up shop in the Santeria-inspired city of Dedande (Dedande. Dead End. Get it? Excellent). He works with Sandy, a young woman who can communicate with the Loa–powerful voodoo spirits–through mixtapes (very 80’s).
Wijngaard and Watters make an impressive creative team. Limbo is dripping in neon colors from start to finish and there’s something inherently 80’s (and unsettling) about it. Wijngaard has taken a world of voodoo, goat-eating televisions, teleshamen, violent action figures, alligator pits, and has soaked it all in electric colors, bringing the gritty city of Dedande vividly to life.
Some of my favorite panels are featured in the second issue of the series. After Clay is pulled into a television by the aforementioned teleshaman, he clambers his way through two pages worth of television shows. There’s a western, a game show, and even a Friday Night Lights-looking football game. This is a particularly clever and visually striking moment in a story that is full of clever and visually striking moments.
by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
Disclaimer time: I love Brian K. Vaughan. He’s created some of my favorite comics, Last Man, Runaways, and Saga. Since I’ve read it, Paper Girls has been added to the list. On the morning of Halloween of 1988, four tough-as-nails newspaper delivery girls stumble across a story of epic proportions. Space-time itself is at risk.
Paper Girls is part suburban drama and part science fiction caper à la Close Encounters. And I can almost guarantee you’ll be pining for a bicycle by the end. Cliff Chiang’s art is stunning and the story, like Limbo, is told in shades of neon. Combined with Vaughan’s knack for dialogue and trippy storytelling, Paper Girls is worth picking up ASAP.