Navigating Life’s Expectations: Reviewing Mad Cave Studios’ ‘Paper Planes’ Vol.1

by Anton Kromoff


Wood’s writing is poignant, and Dozerdraws’s illustrations capture the emotions of the characters with finesse. If you are someone who has struggled with expectations or felt the weight to adhere to social norms, Paper Planes is a must-read that will resonate with you long after you’ve turned the last page.


Welcome to the table,

Now out of the gate, I’m very much a nerd and an ally who is keenly aware that I’m not who ‘they’ wanted me to be. The expectation to be something blindly obedient, something not disabled, something close-minded and pious was always present and looming in my childhood.

To this day I still struggle with the weight of the expectations that were layered on me from birth. All these years later as an established creative professional, with their own home and life and support network, it’s still way too easy to become nauseous from anxiety that the fear and worry of the expectation instilled in me in my youth triggers in me.

The longer I keep my distance with almost zero contact, the easier it becomes to self soothe, but the weight of that expectation can still, to this day, with almost zero contact, become exhausting.

Paper Planes from Mad Cave Studio’s Maverick imprint is laden with some of the truest-to-life representations of what it is to try and navigate under the weight of expectation from your family, from society, and from the person who holds you most accountable in life… yourself.

The story is written by Jennie Wood and illustrated by Dozerdraws, and it follows two best friends, Leighton and Dylan, who find themselves shipped off to a camp for troubled youth. After a decision that set off a chain of events that got them into serious trouble, the two must survive the guilt and anxiety that comes after the fall. They also must prove to the counselors (and ultimately themselves) that they can grow from the experience and return to a life they know will ultimately never be the same.

As the once inseparable duo navigates the unfamiliar terrain of camp, they are forced to confront their past and take a really hard look at how those events impact their future. With each passing day, the pair uncovers hidden truths about themselves and each other, and they begin to question the very foundation of their friendship. What once seemed like an unshakable bond is now tested by the challenges they face and the secrets they uncover.

Dylan and Leighton’s journeys of self-discovery and introspection are not always easy to read. Much like real life, it has messy moments, uncomfortable moments, and anxiety-inducing moments that can cut deep. On more than one occasion, Paper Planes hit close to home, and I caught myself wiping my eyes as the pair confronts their fears, faces inner demons, and comes face-to-face with uncomfortable truths.

While the emotional moments hit hard, there are a ton of happy moments as well. Leighton and Dylan forge new connections with fellow campers who have their own stories to tell. As the story progresses, you really get a sense of the characters’ growth through shared experiences, as they learn important life lessons and discover the type of people they truly want to be.

At its core, this story is a powerful and gripping tale of friendship, self-discovery, and personal growth. It reminds us that life’s challenges can lead to unexpected opportunities for transformation, and from those challenges, we can learn more about ourselves and what we truly want in life.

The story beautifully portrays the struggles of self-discovery, the complexities of relationships, and the challenges of confronting our own fears and insecurities. It encourages readers to embrace their individuality, question societal expectations, and strive for personal growth and authenticity. Overall, Paper Planes is a captivating and thought provoking read that will leave a lasting impact on readers of all ages.

Until next time, be the adult the little kid you needed when the little kid you needed someone.

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