Strangers In Paradise: Really Good, Then Really Bad

strangers in paradise review
You may have heard of Strangers in Paradise, the one-time insanely popular comic book series that was so fresh and unusual that people ate it up. It was the first comic series by struggling cartoonist Terry Moore. I remember this comic being relentlessly promoted in Wizard Magazine, and for good reason. The two main characters of Strangers In Paradise are the two most lovable, sympathetic people you have never met.

In terms of Story, Strangers in Paradise can be summoned up in one word: relationships. It is about the way people live for and care for each other. But that does not mean there isn’t action. Volume 2, in particular, has a conspiracy story so good that it won an Eisner Award. The three main characters are Francine, Katina (nicknamed Katchoo) and David, and there is a love triangle going on to keep things interesting.

As much as I love Strangers in Paradise, there is something that you need to know. Volume one, which is three issues, is like an introduction. Volume 2 was 13 issues, I think, and is the heart and soul of Strangers in Paradise, and it is a must-read. Volume three, however, is 90 issues and is pretty terrible stuff. Hoping for the day-to-day shenanigans in volume 2, volume 3 for the majority was Francine and Katchoo separated, wanting to be together but never staying together. It is frustrating to read, and the comic constantly spins its wheels, never seeming to have any direction. After a while, it becomes apparent that Terry Moore himself had no idea where to take the plot.

The only reason I struggled to finish volume 3 of Strangers in Paradise was to find out whether or not Francine and Katchoo would live happily ever after. (Spoiler ahead) The answer is yes. David gets sick and dies though, for no apparent reason. But that’s okay, because he put his seed in Katchoo’s body first. Oh, and Francine gets knocked up by her ex-fiance, who was a cheating bastard. So they get a home and raise their children together. The End. I just saved you countless hours of bloodshot eyes.

Now that you know about the story, you may be wondering about the artwork. Terry Moore is not your typical comic book artist. He is the absolute master at drawing women realistically. Although his women tend to look similar after a while, his mastery of physical expression is nonparallel to any other comic artist I have seen. His facial expressions are subtle, yet deep. Any gestures that are drawn are always accurate and convincing. Terry Moore knows his stuff, for sure. It is a refreshing change to the usual exaggerated proportions that have become standard in comic books.

Okay, so now you are curious. It sounds both good and bad. Well let me make it easy for you: only read volumes 1 and 2, and skip volume 3 altogether. Just get Pocket Book 1, which includes the first two volumes, and is all you will need. Once you read it, you will wonder how you missed such a great series in the first place.

Fan of Strangers in Paradise? Give your opinion in the comments below.

One thought on “Strangers In Paradise: Really Good, Then Really Bad

  1. Comicoclops
    January 12, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    In my opinion, Vol. 3, Issues 6 – 12 is the best sequence (by far) in SiP. It seems like that was the story Moore built up to and really wanted to tell and everything after that was just fluff.

    What bothered me deeply about the story is that the fun loving characters on the covers of the comics do not exist in the actual body of work. Seeing the pictures with no context had me expecting party girls and boys in a hedonistic world with few rules and excessive amounts of fun. i.e. Real Strangers in Paradise! I was hoping for wild excess pushing deep into X rated territory with just enough humanity to keep it all in context. Yes, I am that naïve.

    Oh, well. I guess I’ll have to seek adventure in the real world.

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