Friday, January 4

RIP SiP: 1993-2007

i haven't talked much about comics on this here site yet, but i am to change that - starting tonight with the end of a long-running favorite of mine, Strangers in Paradise.

the series started way back in 1993, and, while i had heard of it when i first collected comics in the late 90s, i didn't start reading it until the second time around, starting in 2002 i think. i picked up some of the early trade paperbacks (collections of the single issues) from an ebay auction, loved what i read, then picked up a collection of single issues from another ebay auction after that to continue the story and get me up to speed. after that i collected the singles each month as they came out for a year or two, then moved back to the trade paperbacks when i made the overall move from single issues to trades (stopped getting singles 2-3 years ago).

the final trade came out late last year (that's 2007 - remember, it's 2008 now), and i just finished reading it tonight (after receiving it as a present for Christmas).

107 issues. collected in 19 trade paperbacks. 14 years in the making. written/drawn/published by just one man - Terry Moore.

it's the story of 3 friends - Francine, Katchoo, and David. David wants Katchoo, Katchoo wants Francine, and Francine doesn't know what she wants. this is the basic framework, but the tapestry woven by Moore is so rich and multi-layered that it's truly fantastic to behold. there's crime drama elements, sordid pasts, a ruthless shadow organization, extremely dark moments, and a large supporting cast - and yet the core of the book is never lost.

it's the story of 3 friends. it's a love story - a story about the power of love.

oh, and the HUMOR! the man can write the most wonderful humorous real-life situations. granted, as the book went on there were fewer and fewer of these moments, but they would always pop up and remind you that laughter is truly the best medicine (besides love, and being loved).

there are a few questions i had after finishing off the series, so i tracked down a number of interviews and blog posts he did around the time the final issues came out last year. yeah, that's me - uber-nerd. of note:

- he was thinking of starting to wrap up the series in 2001 when 9/11 happened. after that, he decided to continue a little longer on it and change the end he had in mind - which would have been darker and more depressing - to an uplifting one full of hope and love. i'm SO glad he did this. most times i'd vote for the dark/depressing ending (like in movies), but this series shouldn't have ended on that note. it should have ended just as it did. wonderful job.

- because the series deals with lesbians (remember, Katchoo loves Francine, and Francine thinks maybe she loves Katchoo), Moore was eventually asked to leave his church. simply amazing the close-mindedness of organized religion. it's not a book about lesbians - it's a book about LOVE. people, in love. it just so happens that the two people are women. to be honest, Moore handles it so well i often found myself saying "oh yeah, i guess they could be considered lesbians."

- there is a flash forward to the future midway through the series that i remember being simply amazing at the time i read it. however, reaching the end now, it seems that the flash forward didn't exactly get incorporated just right. it might have had to do with Moore changing his ending from dark and depressing to uplifting and of hope, i don't know. all i know is i REALLY want to go back and reread that spot to make sure i'm not crazy. too bad the rest of my collection of SiP is thousands of miles away.

actually, after reading the finale, i immediately wanted to go back and reread the ENTIRE series. he sort of invites you to with some writing tricks in the final issues. he certainly did a good job bringing things full-circle.

Strangers in Paradise. an excellent series. can't recommend it enough. if you can, pick up the pocket book versions that have come out. they are a little cheaper than the trades and collect all the issues in 6 rather thick pocket books.

what's Moore up to next? oh, only WRITING MY FAVORITE COMIC RIGHT NOW, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane!!! the original writer of the series jumped ship from Marvel and Moore's taking over sometime this spring. they couldn't have picked a better successor. he's also got another independent coming out called Echo, and taking over writing duties on Runaways, also for Marvel.

- kawitchate


Ben said...

Sounds like an interesting series, but I never got into comics as a younger person. I see them now as a gret fertile ground for new ideas and stories, and a cool art form, but not one I read or pay for. Most comics I see are on computers -- a sequel to XIII the game would make me wet myself. New posts are great, wow you are prolific! When does Hawai-ii-i do their voting?

kawitchate said...

i was never into comics in my youth either - well, i did collect the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics (by Archie, not the darker ones by Mirage), but that was pretty much it. i didn't start collecting until i was maybe 14, 15 years old, collected for 2-3 years, stopped, then started again when i was 20-21.

yeah you can find comics for free online (just like music, tv shows, or movies) or lately there's lots of trade paperbacks showing up at libraries. i can't read things online (plus i want to support the industry), and as for the library, well i like owning the things. sure it can get to be an expensive habit (that's why i stopped for a while), but once you settle into a certain number of comics you like (not collecting everything) AND try to find deals (Amazon or ebay), well then it can be a little less.

i have no idea when we do our voting here... you mean preliminaries i'm assuming. otherwise we'd do our voting on the same day everyone else does - sometime in November. i'm not even sure i'll bother voting this year... we'll see who the candidates are.

- k

jessi said...

i didn't realize that this series kept going after the ones i borrowed from you. i'll have to figure out where i left off and keep reading.

kawitchate said...


yeah, andy actually asked to borrow the latest ones, but i didn't have time to get them out and figure out where you guys might have left off. i BELIEVE you stopped reading somewhere in the singles i was collecting (maybe around issue 50?) and the series ended with issue 90.

i suppose you COULD head over to my house and raid my collection, but you (or my parents) would have to figure out which white box they're all in. oh, and you wouldn't have the last trade (as that's here in Hawaii with me).

otherwise you'll have to wait until i'm back... however, when i'm back, i might want to read the whole thing over again myself! :)

- k