Sunday, January 23, 2005
Strangers in Paradise
The Official Strangers in Paradise website
The best thing about SiP is that it isn't necessarily a comicbook-readers book. It's the book for people who DON'T read comics.
SiP is about the not-quite average lives of three people (to start with). It's got everything from humour to pages black with blood. Love, angst, drama, fun-times, art, gangs, murders, cops, Texas, lesbians!, snipers, mafia, drugs, and characters we CARE about. Hell, we even want to know more about the antagonists to the point of liking THEM, too.
Terry Moore, the author, used to work in TV as an editor, and he sets up each storyline like a storyboard with text so it reads like you're watching a really great TV show. And of course, if you've never read an independant title, the series HAS an ending we're heading toward. So everything is serving a purpose and WON'T be repeated again the way that regular superhero titles do.
Also, Terry Moore has a beautiful line style (the books are in black and white), very art-nouveau inspired (think Quinton Hoover, if you know who he is). And lastly, it's totally queer/queer friendly. The way it deals with issues, it just makes them part of the story the way if YOU actually stumbled across it in real life. In so many TV shows, they deal with things like, say, AIDS in a one-time episode or story arc and then you never hear about it again. But the way they show it, they're FOCUSING on it which makes it surreal. "She's dying of AIDS... let's show all the minutae of what that's like". There's a time and place for that, but in a larger story it comes off like a lesson rather than part of the story.
Queer themes are like that as well in the story in a lable-defying sort of way. Thus the more main character of the three - Katchoo. "Everyone calls her a lesbian. But she's been with guys. Is she bi? But she HATES men, she prefers women. (But she still says there might be guys out there who are still bad). So she's bi?" - Katchoo doesn't lable herself and refuses to be political about it. I think that'd be the ideal place for our society to be and I know some individuals who ARE like this. So in a way it's kind of refreshing - we don't need to see Katchoo pushing LGBTI issues. Just her being who she is is somehow enough. And no, it's not a half-assed gay-character thing. I've read solidly GAY comics and I just don't like being drowned in my own issues all the time.
It's hard to describe Strangers in Paradise without giving everything away. Every issue is full of suprises and you never know how Terry is going to twist it all with the unveiling of each TPB. You just have to sit there and read and trust that he knows what he's doing since he's already had this thing planned out for years. :D
http://www.strangersinparadise.com/issues.html -- go here. This shows the covers of all the trade paperbacks to date. The first volume is only three comics long - Terry did them for fun, not expecting SiP to take off so it FEELS really short and not so permanent. So I highly HIGHLY reccomend you try out SiP somehow (they had them at our library in Portland) -- but get the first two TPB's - volume 1 and 2. (Amazon.com sells them used, by the way). :D
By far one of my favorite stories of all time in any medium (books, films, anime, graphic novels, etc).