Saturday, December 20, 2008

Strangers in Paradise


A rather generous soul where I work has loaned me, in bits and pieces, the entirety of Strangers in Paradise. I finally finished reading it tonight, and I'm sortof processing the entire experience.

The book is, by no means, perfect. The story has several spots that don't fit right. There are either inconsistencies in the story based on something we've previously been told, or events as they unfold don't jive with flashes of the future we received in earlier issues. So to be evenhanded, there are definitely inconsistencies. What made this a stand-out book in my mind, is that it involved me so much in the characters lives... it caused me to emotionally invest in them enough that the inconsistencies didn't bother me.

There's a specific point fairly early in the ongoing series where the book flashes ten years or so into the future, and shows where the characters are now. And while the ongoing series hits several of the beats predicted by that segment, we never catch up and move forward from that point. And while that gives the book a disjointed feel if you dwell on it, I'm enchanted enough by the characters not to care.

The series is largely an emotional soap opera surrounding three characters... Katchoo, Francine and David. The primary dynamic of the story is a non-traditional love triangle. David loves Katchoo, Katchoo loves Francine, Francine doesn't know WHO she loves. She's had a string of bad relationships with men, but isn't ready to move to a same-sex relationship with her High School friend and current roommate, Katchoo. Katchoo has no interest in men, but David knows that somewhere down the road, she's going to need him and he's determined to be there for her when that day comes. The events that separate these characters and bring them back together probably aren't that far removed from the fare of daytime soap operas, but after a point I was so drawn to the characters that I didn't care. I just had to know how it ended, even knowing that prospects were dim for one of the three.

The series also has plenty of comic relief from not only the main characters, but from a wonderful supporting cast. And by the end, even Francine's sleazy ex-boyfriend is shown to have a decent side to him.

But I don't know if I could have stood reading this on a month-to-month basis. The need to know what comes next is strong. And when I could easily reach for the next issue, that was manageable. That said, it's gotten me to pay more attention to Terry Moore as a writer and artist. As of my most recent order with DCBS, I've picked up Runaways from Marvel, which he is currently writing, and I'm going to start ordering his new independent series Echo.

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