I came late to the geek game, I’ll admit, but I’ve done my best to immerse myself in the culture. My first foray in geekdom had to be comic books. Growing up, I had superhero Underoos, especially when I was a wee tot and Wonder Woman was on television, but I had not really read comic books until I was in graduate school and finally got some exposure to the genre. Of course, I read the superhero stuff –Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, Green Arrow – but I really fell for comics when I discovered comics like Strangers in Paradise.
The series centers around two young women, Francine Peters and Katina Marie Choovanski, better known by the moniker ‘Katchoo.’ The girls become friends in high school, with Katchoo falling for Francine and Francine falling for the wrong guys. The story follows the girls through the first decade plus of their adult lives, weaving in love and life and intrigue and drama in unexpected ways. Along the way, the cast of characters expands beyond Francine and Katchoo, but the focus always comes back to the core relationship. In a genre dominated by superheroes and sci-fi/fantasy, Strangers in Paradise is one of those series that aims for an audience that enjoys visual storytelling, but also is looking for something more like their favorite television drama.
Terry Moore, writer and artist, first published SiP in 1993 as a black-and-white three-issue story for Antarctic Press, now known as Volume One. The series then moved to Moore’s own imprint, Abstract Studios, for a thirteen issue run before moving to Image Comics; those thirteen issues are collected as Volume Two. Volume Three started with Image for eight issues – in color! – but then moved back to Abstract Studios for the remainder of its ninety-issue run. Moore also published some related comics, including Paradise, Too!, a series that featured more of Moore’s art but with a variety of subject matter.
I fell for the series when it was well into its third volume, but it didn’t take long to find the graphic novels to catch up on the story. As a woman, I wasn’t as into the superhero books as the other readers around me, but sought stories that were more along the lines of the type of books I liked to read: relationships and friendships; love of all kinds and characters beyond the tropes one usually associates with comics. I found other titles that were similar to SiP, but the girls, Francine and Katchoo, have always held a particular place in my heart. Moore’s art and the series’ realism, both in visual and narrative forms, were a nice addition to my already extensive literary loves.
Though Strangers in Paradise ended its run of new issues in 2007, readers can find the series collected in multiple ways: a series of graphic novels, both hardcover and softcover; six pocket editions, available through retailers like Amazon; and an omnibus, also available through Amazon. Terry Moore’s website, www.strangersinparadise.com, also has a store where you can buy the books as well as other SiP merchandise.
If you’re interested in titles similar to SiP, I’m happy to suggest others. I’m also looking for recommendations so please leave yours in the comments!