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Heck, Naldo, & Jude

Heck, Naldo, and Jude are three teens featured in supporting roles from the Paper Girls series by Brian K Vaughn and Cliff Chiang. They’re from the far future, the year 70,000 to be exact. All three are gay and Heck and Naldo are boyfriends. As the first issue opens Heck and Naldo are seen in the early morning hours of November 1st, 1988. For three paper girls, Tiffanie, KJ, and Mac, doing their paper routes it’s known as “Hell morning” because of the pranks and vandalism they’d seen the year before. This time they’re joined by newbie Erin.

This Hell morning starts out as horrible as the first one. Things quickly turn into a series of events unlike anything the girls have experienced when three figures in “bad ghost costumes” steal one of Tiffanie’s “Realistic TRC-218 CB with channel 14 crystals” Radio Shack walkie talkies. Vowing to get it back, the girls follow clues to a house under construction and discover a mysterious looking machine resembling a space capsule. Not much later the girls encounter and fight the three mysterious figures, unmasking one to reveal a deformed head. From this point forward the story becomes very complex as the time traveling premise between two warring factions starts unfolding. The Old Watch (aka Old Timers) believe that past events must not be altered and the timeline preserved. Many of the Old Timers’ descendants, including these teen boys, belong to the opposing faction which believes that the past can be changed.

The night sky will brighten and fill with pterodactyls prompting the girls to seek shelter at Mac’s house. There they find Mac’s step mother Alice in a drunken, despairing, and dangerous state of mind, convinced the events outside the house is proof of the Biblical Rapture and that she’s been left on earth because of her “sins.” Alice intends to commit suicide but instead Erin is accidentally shot in the melee. Rushing to the hospital in Mac’s family’s car, the girls are stopped by an Old Watch guard and are rescued by Heck and Naldo who related to the girls for their “just make a living” attitude. More craziness follows as the Heck and Naldo lead the girls to their space craft which they’ll use to transport Erin back to their secret base in their original time period where they’ll use future tech (iNsecs) to save her. Heck mentions having two mothers as they make the trip to return Erin to her time. Their final appearance is in #17.

The year is 1958. A line of Jude’s dialog implies that he’s stranded because of damage to the life ship he, Heck, and Naldo were piloting. Jude’s is hiding in the basement of a Cleveland home belonging to Charlotte Spachefski. Charlotte is a cartoonist continuing the Frankie Tomatah comic strip begun by her father. Jude reveals information about the time war, the “Battle of the Ages,” to Charlotte. That information included an explanation of the “folding” phenomenon which allows for time travel to the past and future. In the simplest of terms, a folding is a “crease” in space-time. These foldings can only be detected at the moment they appear in the present; present being a relative term. The “rebel” faction’s solution to this obstacle is to enlist locals from various time periods and train them to detect the occurrences and pass that information along in coded form. Charlotte performs this task by making a cipher of the date, time, and location and inserting it into editions of her comic strip.

KJ, one of the series’ main characters, has been displaced in 1958 too. Based on info she learned in another issue (and too complicated to explain here) she has been searching for Charlotte. Jude and Charlotte say their goodbyes because he needs to check back with his friends about progress on repairs. With Jude alone now KJ emerges from shadows to confront him about stealing Tiffanie’s walkie talkie and her need to reunite with not yet official girlfriend Mac. (See KJ and Mac’s profile linked below) With Jude in agreement they set off on the long walk to Cleveland’s Edgewater Beach Park and further down paths where the life ship is hidden inside a cave. Along the journey Jude reflects on KJ and Mac’s relationship, saying that he was still in the closet at their age. Later Jude mentions to KJ he has a boyfriend.

At an early moment in their night time adventure Jude likens himself, Heck, and Naldo to the legendary “Robyn Hude.” “We steal from the greedy past to give to our needy present, dig?” Despite all the tech they manage to have which is capable of fantastic things from a contemporary perspective, the rebels are in some regards a rag tag group.
Taking tech from various time periods is seen as a moral imperative.

Heck, Naldo, and Jude appear together in issues #17, #19, and #20 in a battle that takes place in 1999. The teens are fighting the efforts of Grandfather and Prioress to stage an “Ablution,” a mass mind wipe of local time residents. Stompers are the preferred method of fighting for both sides. Stompers are giant anthropomorphic robots. Blows are thrown and both the boys and the Oldtimers suffer losses. Their Stomper broken and beaten, the teens seek refuge in a storm drain. Being stranded in their past is far better than the loss the Oldtimers experienced which I won’t mention because of spoilers.

All three boys are brave, compassionate, intelligent, and resourceful. The fact that each of them is afflicted with a rare future disease as a result of time travel makes their characters even more impressive.

Paper Girls was adapted into a show for Amazon Prime that ran for one season. The show has a number of differences from the comics. These profile cover only the original source material.

Read KJ’ s and Mac’s profile.

Heck, Naldo, and Jude were created by Brian K Vaughn and Cliff Chiang. Art by Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson. Heck and Naldo first appear in Paper Girls #3. Jude’s first appearance is in #17 though technically it may be #1 presuming Jude is one of the figures dressed in “bad ghost costumes.” Heck and Naldo’s relationship is mentioned in #4 and Jude mentions his sexuality in #27.

All rights reserved Brian K Vaughn and Cliff Chiang

June 25, 2024
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