Friday, April 4, 2008

Strangers In Paradise: Volume 1

I read the first three issues of Strangers In Paradise the other day, which comprises the first volume of the long-running series. I'll be taking a look at this three issues today.

Written and drawn by Terry Moore, Strangers in Paradise is about Katchoo and Francine, two girls who are best friends, and their relationships. Katchoo is a lesbian, or at least she claims to be, and is in love with Francine, who's in love with Freddie, a pig looking for a lay (but Francine ain't putting out). On top of that, David is in love with Katchoo, and that's clearly headed for disaster.

This series garnered a lot of critical accolade and awards from places such as GLAAD. Moore set out to write a series about realistic women with realistic problems and realistic body types and feelings and thoughts and reactions, and he did this right in the height of early nineties comic boom, in which women dressed absolutely crazy (I linked to Chris Sims' Dave Campbell parody, but the pics included are perfect evidence). Moore's series was a reaction to that over the top crapola from the nineties. What we have is a great comic about real people.

Now, based on this blog, one wouldn't expect me to love Strangers in Paradise, considering there's no superheroes, no punching, no death rays, no kicks in the face, and no Spider-Man. But I loved this series. It was funny without trying too hard, it was cartoony without being distracting. Moore's women are beautiful to look at, and because Moore is a good writer, they're also three-dimensional (which adds to their beauty). The plotting is rather simple, but it's not about the plot - it's about these two characters.

As I understand, subsequent volumes of Strangers in Paradise add an incongruous thriller-style subplot about prossies, assassins and shadowy government offices. That sort of turns me off, surprisingly, but I will continue reading and see how much better Moore's artwork gets with time, just like a lot of great artists (certainly, Cerebus was shaky for the first twenty or so issues).

I recommend this comic for comic book fans who like something other than Tony Stark beating up on Steve Rogers' corpse.

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