Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Classics - Strangers in Paradise #1 (of 3)

I have to admit that this is not a series I picked up on from the start.

Strangers in Paradise first appeared in 1993, but it was a couple of years later before I bought my first issue.

Thankfully, it was a series that was often reprinted in a variety of formats - in fact, it's still available in trade paperbacks.

It was one of the most unusual "independent" comics in the '90s - no superheroes, no science fiction, no fantasy, and no impossibly-built, scantily clad heroines (well, there were some scantily clad moments - a couple in this issue alone - but Francine isn't the usual pneumatic sex object, and the moments are used for humor and dramatic purposes, not just to spark sales). This series was a straightforward drama about two women and their friendship.

And that's it.

Created by writer / artist Terry Moore, the series focused on Francine Peters and her friend Katchoo, two somewhat eccentric (but in a real-world way) friends who take part in assorted tumultuous romances, family turmoil, squabbles and life's challenges in general.

The series enjoyed a long healthy run for several good reasons: great characters (you love Francine because she's real, you love Katchoo because she's kinda crazy), strong stories (this issue focuses on Francine's attempts to hang on to her lousy boyfriend), and terrific art (Moore's art is wonderful - comic, sexy, with a great touch of the real world, strong layouts and loads of imagination, overcoming any real world limitations).

I would be remiss not to mention the sexual tension that existed between the two leads - would they or won't they? No spoilers here.

That the series enjoyed a long run is a tribute to Moore's talent and the strength of his unique concept.

In the second panel of this first issue, an actor in a play says, "Without love we're never more than Strangers in Paradise." That's the series in a nutshell right there.

Highly recommended, especially if you're looking for a break from the usual long underwear crowd.

Grade: A-


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