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Strangers In Paradise | Pocket Book Volume 1…
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4351324,192 (3.9)18
Title:Strangers In Paradise | Pocket Book Volume 1
Authors:Terry Moore
Info:Abstract Studio (2004), Edition: 1ST, Paperback, 360 pages
Collections:Your library, Comics
Tags:Comics, Abstract Studios, Love or Romance

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Strangers in Paradise Pocket Book 1 by Terry Moore (2004)


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I love this series! Originally a self-published comic from the 1990s, it has sort of realistic but also sort of cartoon-style art and a completely crazy, yet grounded in realistic characters and relationships, story to match!

Personally, I love the artwork. It may not be for everyone and I think it looks a little dated now compared to the style nowadays but frankly I prefer this kind of style. I love the expressiveness and the detail of it, the way it can go from action to whimsy, or just a trip to the grocery store. I love that Moore’s graphic novel actually portrays beautiful women who look realistic, i.e. not a size zero! Francine looks very realistic and while some characters comment on her “getting fat’ or calling her “chubby” there are even more who think she is sexy, beautiful, hot!!

The story is amazing - full of intrigue, twists, turns, mysteries, a thriller vibe, a bit of police procedural (thankfully not enough to bore me), the mafia, etc. but through it all the CHARACTERS and their relationships are definitely the main focus and that is what I love about this series! These characters are multi-dimensional, their relationships are complex and heartbreaking. Every time I read it, I just can not get enough of it!

So the story, as presented in this volume, follows two best friends, Katina (“Katchoo” to her friends) and Francine. Katchoo is tough and doesn’t take shit from anyone - or allow her friends to be hurt. She knows how to fight, maybe even kill a man. But the flip side of this is she’s also an artist who spends her free time hanging out at the local art gallery.

Francine was in a play in high school that did not go well . . . her toga fell off in front of the entire school! Flash forward to adult life and she is a sweet, giving woman in a relationship with a sleazy man.

Katchoo and Francine were best friends in high school, before Katchoo disappeared for two years. Francine thought she was living with an aunt, but the truth was Katchoo had run away from home and was homeless before being taken in by a high class call girl named Emma. Katchoo herself worked as a call girl for very wealthy mature female clients, including Mrs. Darcy Parker - a powerful person in the mafia. Katchoo has tried to keep all this secret from Francine, but the past is quickly coming to catch up with her as both the mafia and the police are after her!

What is core here is the relationship between Katchoo and Francine. Katchoo and Francine are roommates and best friends. The thing is, Katchoo is in love with Francine, who obliviously is dating a guy named Freddie when we first meet them. Freddie is a sleazy jerk and Katchoo is forever trying to convince Francine that men are slime and she can do better. Katchoo claims to hate all men, but then into her life stumbles David, a sweet, kind guy who bumps into her at the art gallery and is determined to be her friend . . . though he’d really like to be more! Yes, it’s a love triangle alright, and one layered with even more complication as Katchoo, Francine and David become friends and no one wants to hurt anyone else . . . but Katchoo loves Francine, and David loves Katchoo! How can feelings not be hurt?!

Mix all this in with grisly action sequences, pages of poetry, sweeping dream sequences with roiling oceans, or dream sequences with cartoon versions of the characters, daydreams and fantasies, alternate versions of reality, lengthy prose pages where the art takes a backseat, detailed back-and-forth conversations, and even conversations where we see what each character is saying, but also what they are simultaneously thinking and you have one hell of a reading experience! And one I never get tired of repeating! ( )
  catfantastic | Aug 6, 2015 |
Not sure about this yet! I mostly like it, but I didn't expect it to secretly a tale of crime and intrigue, and I'm worried both plot and characters will get a little tired, soap operatic, and cliched. Also the poetry/songwriting is pretty bad. Also also, characters who are unable to articulate that they are bisexual annoy me (angst about it = fine, obliviousness about the existence of the label itself = unrealistic).

However! I do like the characters and care about what happens to them, so I will probably keep reading. Also the art is pretty.

I was confused by the publication date of 2004 - in fact this was self-published starting in the mid-nineties, which is why it feels like it was written in the early to mid nineties and not simply nostalgically set at that time. So the author gets props for self-publishing. ( )
  raschneid | Mar 31, 2013 |
I'm not a huge fan of the art, but it's not awful or anything. I'm also not completely sure if I liked the story. I was certainly enthralled during certain parts, but for most of it I was just indifferent. I've heard great things about Strangers In Paradise, but I don't know if I'll continue the series. ( )
  BrynDahlquis | May 29, 2012 |
In the world of Moore's award--attracting comic book Strangers in Paradise, best friends Francine and Katchoo are young women trying to find their places. Katchoo, a talented artist, is secretly in love with Francine. When Katchoo meets David at an art museum, it seems to be by chance, and the two build a strong friendship, despite David's desire for more. Just when Katchoo's little love triangle begins getting complicated, the Mafia past she thought she had walked away from arises to try to destroy her life. Moore's attention to detail in characterization makes Katchoo and the gang jump off the page. The story has an epic feel but never loses the details of the characters' lives. Bouncing between scope and scale, Moore also never loses the reader in the transitions. His art has a bright, clean look; he manages to be cute and also very dark when darkness is appropriate. The combination of art and storytelling elements allows Katchoo, Francine, and David to be touching and to make one care about where they are going. (BookList, 03-15-2005, p1280) . ( )
  juntaobrien | Mar 11, 2011 |
Summary: Katchoo is a young and attractive artist, living with her best friend, Francine. Right at the same time Francine's relationship (with the rather sleazy Freddie) is breaking apart, Katchoo meets David, a quiet and kind-hearted young man who is instantly smitten with her. However hard David tries, however, Katchoo is herself quietly in love with Francine. The three of them muddle their way through the resultant triangle... until Katchoo's past starts to catch up with them, in the form of a ruthless former employer, and $85k in missing money that they think Katchoo still has.

Review: I didn't know much about this series when I started the book, apart from the fact that a) it came highly recommended, and b) it was about "love, sex, and relations with other human beings" (courtesy of Neil Gaiman's blurb on the cover). So while I wasn't quite sure what to expect (other than a good read), it turned out to be very different than I was expecting (although it was definitely still a good read; I got that part right.)

This book is a really strange mix of outlandishness and immediate recognizable reality. That is, the plot is overblown and almost soapy - I mean, missing mob money? - but the characters, and the life choices that lead to the soapy plot points, are shockingly real. Katchoo and Francine (and David) feel like real people, act and react and interact like real people. They fall in love where it's not convenient or smart to do so. They get mad and say things they don't mean (or that they really do mean), and those things always have consequences. They fight and they joke and they bitch and they make stupid decisions and it all seems very familiar, and very real. The artwork also has this same blend of overblown yet real; it's stylized for sure, but everyone looks believably human. It was particularly refreshing to see women in the comics that aren't waifs, and have real, natural-looking bodies.

Pocket book #1 apparently contains parts 1-3 of the original series, out of a total of 19. I have as little idea about where the series is going to go in the next sixteen parts as I did going into this one, but now that I know and love the characters, and know how much heart and truth the story contains, I'm eager to find out. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If you like love stories and have been meaning to read more graphic novels, but aren't into superheroes or fantasy, Strangers in Paradise might be right up your alley. Actually, even if you do like superheroes and fantasy, SiP is well worth a try. ( )
2 vote fyrefly98 | Jan 3, 2011 |
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10 years ago...Puncture High School

My life is scribbling and scratching and half finished pages at dawn.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Chronicles the relationship between three friends--Katchoo, Francine, and David--and the people they fall in and out of love with.

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