Comic Rewind: STRANGERS IN PARADISE Vol. 1

Explore the lives and the strong friendship between two friends in Strangers in Paradise Vol. 1.

The comic opens ten years in the past with the two main characters in high school.  Francine Peters is waiting for her cue to enter the high school play called Strangers in Paradise.  Francine is terrified her toga is too loose and will fall down.  Her best friend Katina Choovanski aka Katchoo sneaks in to cheer up her best friend.  Francine is pushed on stage and her toga falls and exposes her bare breasts to the crowd.

That is how the comic opens.  It opens with some humor and a great deal of relatability.  The entire comic has a great mixture of humor and relatable situations.  

The rest of the comic picks up as Francine and Katchoo are in their mid-twenties and are roommates.

Some of the humor is right off the pages of a Sunday funnies comic strip.  The jokes are over-the-top and absurd.  An example is Katchoo turns off her alarm clock by shooting at it with a pistol.

An example of the relatable things are the relationship between the two friends.  Francine has a big fight with her boyfriend.  Katchoo tries to comfort her by saying she could be Francine’s new boyfriend and starts to kiss Francine and won’t stop.  When Francine gets upset Katchoo tells her it is just a joke and to lighten up.  After Francine leaves the room Katchoo is crying about how stupid she was.

We learn that Katchoo is in love with Francine, but it is not reciprocated.  Katchoo has been this really tough and gruff character up until this point and it was interesting to see her vulnerability.  This scene was really heartbreaking and relatable because everyone has been put the situation of unreciprocated love.

Strangers in Paradise Vol. 1 was written and drawn by Terry Moore.  The volume was published by Abstract Studio in 2004.

The volume is done in black-and-white with no color at all.  I typically avoid that type of comic because the lack of color takes me out of the comic.  However, this comic is one of the comics which is the exception to that rule.  Not only did I not notice the the lack of color, but I actually think the comic is better without color.

Not having color in the volume I think allowed me to focus more on the characters and the story and less on the pretty art.  Speaking of art Moore did a weird thing with his art in the volume.  He had characters who were drawn very cartoony, but also had realistic looking characters.  This blending between the styles worked well.  The cartoony characters for the funny stuff and the realistic style for the serious stuff.

I did a little research on the comic and Moore and I found out he used to write the Sunday funnies and did this comic right after.  He may have still been in that mindset when working on this comic.  I don’t know if the following volumes will have the same tone, but I hope they do because it worked well.

This genre of comic is called “slice of life” and I don’t think I have ever read anything in this genre before.  I don’t know if I will read anything in it again.  When reading comics I want to escape the everyday world and live with superheroes.  Reading this comic just reminded me of how hard life can be sometimes and that is what I’m trying to escape.

However, I loved this comic and was pretty much the perfect comic.  It may be a great disservice to myself it I don’t continue reading this series.  I have never been so torn on a comic I loved.

Everyone should check this comic out and it maybe the perfect comic for new readers or for those who think comics are only for kids.

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