Strangers in Paradise is a long-running, mostly self-published black-and-white comic book, written and drawn by Terry Moore. The series has reached its planned conclusion, finishing off in 2007 with issue #90 of volume 3.
The series is noteworthy for its appeal to a non-traditional audience, in particular women who would not ordinarily consider themselves readers of comic books.
Terry Moore stated that 'I started out wanting to do a newspaper strip, and tried one idea after another before I realised I hated the gag-a-day life and really wanted to try a story instead.' The story he chose to tell turned out to be Strangers in Paradise, or 'this story about 2 girls and a guy who gets to know them' (from Moore's introduction to The Collected Strangers in Paradise, Volume One), which used characters he'd developed during his time on the gag-a-day circuit. For example, Katchoo appears as a 'happy-go-lucky wood nymph' in an early strip by Moore about an enchanted forest. These strips were collected into two trade paperbacks, but they did not include three issues. Because of this, the entire run was later published in one large paperback edition entitled 'The Complete Paradise Too'. This volume can be considered the true origin of Katchoo, Francine and the SiP universe.
The story primarily concerns the difficult relationship between two women, Helen Francine Peters (known simply as Francine) and Katina Marie ("Katchoo") Choovanski, and their friend David Qin. Francine considers Katchoo her best friend; Katchoo is in love with Francine. David is in love with Katchoo (a relationship which Katchoo herself is deeply confused about).
This plays itself out over a second plot element, a thriller style story concerning the shadowy 'Big Six' organization. Its leader is a woman named Darcy Parker, who uses highly trained women (of whom Katchoo was one) to infiltrate—and to an extent control—the American political system. It uses a non-linear approach to storytelling, putting in sequence elements of the story often years apart, and going back in time frequently.
SiP, as it is commonly known, began as a three-issue mini-series published by Antarctic Press in 1993, which focused entirely on the relationship between the three main characters and Francine's unfaithful boyfriend. This is now known as "Volume 1". Thirteen issues were published under Moore's own "Abstract Studio" imprint, and these make up "Volume 2". This is where the "thriller" plot was introduced. The series moved to Image Comics' Homage imprint for the start of "Volume 3", but after eight issues moved back to Abstract Studio, where it continued with the same numbering. Volume 3, and with it the series itself, has concluded, with Moore ending at issue #90 June 6. 2007.
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