2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the independent comic series Strangers In Paradise (SIP).
Starting as a series of comic strips and blossoming into one of the most well regarded and popular independent comics of all time, with a sprawling story and some of the best characters in the medium.
The plot, to put it simply, is about a young woman named Katchoo (childhood nickname and a shortened version of her full name Katina Choovaski) who is not so secretly in love with her best friend and roommate Francine. Although Francine was raised to want to be a housewife and have a family, she doesn’t think she can do that with Katchoo. But there are things from her past as a high end call girl Katchoo would rather Francine not know about and they’re coming back to haunt her. Throughout the story a whole tapestry of unique, multifaceted, and fun characters are introduced and once you’re done you really feel like these characters are family.
What makes SIP so good is that it was able to transcend the rather limiting category of “LGBT fiction” and just be. While it does feature a female protagonist who likes women, it doesn’t concern itself with labels, which for a series being published in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, was groundbreaking. For an essentially “romance” comic that features plenty of gay characters and a lesbian main couple it’s remarkable that some people who haven’t read the series don’t even know that it even involves LGBT characters and themes. But that doesn’t mean it’s lowkey. There’s no question that Katchoo loves Francine as more than a friend, and there’s no having to read between the lines to find their relationship romantic.
The series ran for 11 years from 1996-2007 and spanned three volumes and
120 issues. So naturally you get to watch Terry Moore, grow as both an artist and a storyteller. The art is absolutely gorgeous, and even better Moore draws women as they really look. There’s plenty of body types and even personality types to go around in the cast of women and none of them are portrayed to be any better than the others. Women in Moore’s fiction are simply allowed to be as they are, bad parts and all.
The wonderful grasp on multifaceted women and inclusion of LGBT characters is in part what made SIP so successful but the real star of the book is the humanity. The relationships and situations, while sometimes farfetched, are always grounded in reality and help uncover what makes us humans who we are. It’s a beautiful series that will make you laugh, cry and think. A true magnum opus.
The pocket book collections of the entire series are available now and the first issue of the follow up series, Strangers in Paradise XXV, comes out January 17th, 2018.
Written by Max