It’s rare a book will bring me to tears, but as I finished reading Strangers in Paradise this week there were salty rivulets pouring down my face. The entire series packed emotional punch, but this ending was exquisitely teeming with love. Page after page of heartrending and soul-lifting beauty flowed by and I was left unquestionably satisfied with the story and deeply thankful to have been along for the ride these few years I’ve been keeping up with Terry Moore‘s masterpiece.
Strangers in Paradise is a romance, a crime drama, and a character-focused exploration of innumerable aspects of life. It also happens to be a comic book. Much like Craig Thompson‘s Blankets, Strangers in Paradise elevates the comics form into genuine literary greatness. The storytelling and insight are amplified by the collision of prose and visual art in a way that is disarming and authentic.
Central to SiP is a swirl of love that focuses on three main characters. LeeAnn Kriegh summed it up as “Katchoo loves David, but she’s in love with Francine, a mostly straight woman who returns Katchoo’s love just enough to break both their hearts,” and that’s just scratching the surface of a complex, beautiful and realistic story.
I always thought the thread was purpose — a self-defining core — but I was wrong.
When I look back now…
All I see is love.
Terry Moore is a master at keeping controversial subject matter such as polyamoury, sexuality, religion and politics deeply embedded in human experience. One of the real joys of reading SiP has always been the touching way the characters have reflected the conflicts in all our lives. Mr. Moore depicts life gently but unsparingly includes all the betrayal and heartache to be found in it alongside the joys. I especially appreciated how he included David’s Christian faith in the story.
For some reason it struck me that there were no real Christians in comics, in mainstream-accepted comics anyway. I thought, “Well, that would be one of the most revolutionary things I could do right now.” … I thought one of the most rebellious things David could do was just say, “I’m a Christian.”
I mean, being a Christian right now is the most uncool thing you could possibly be, whether it’s in comics or literature or TV or film or whatever. Pop-culture-wise, for somebody now to stand up and say, “I’m a Christian,” they’d have to be very anti-establishment. Unless, they’re standing in the middle of the Bible Belt surrounded by churches or something. But, you know, in mainstream culture, it’s just not acceptable any more. Which made it all the more fun for me. I like thumbing my nose at both the establishment and the revolution.
– Terry Moore, The Comics Journal #276
Strangers in Paradise will stand as one of the greatest stories told in the last couple decades. Full of humour, drama and tenderness, it never fell from its sustained genuineness. Terry Moore established himself as one of the finest storytellers working today and gave us a true gift through the years he has worked to create this story. Now that it’s finished, I can’t imagine a better time to dive in.
Dream of you.
I dream of you.
I don’t know why but I do
Think of you.
Though we’re through
I think of you.