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Please make sure to read the EXPLANATORY NOTES before reading these reviews.

This page features reviews of an outstanding comic book series called STRANGERS IN PARADISE by a very talented artist and storyteller named Terry Moore. The series made its debut back in 1993 and most of the individual comics published to date have been compiled and made available through the volumes listed below. If you're a fan of Xena fan fiction in particular, I suspect you'll love SIP because the series is like an alternative uber-Xena novel in comic book form - and yes I did say alternative - comics have changed A LOT in recent times. SIP doesn't have the testosterone heroes with unbelievable muscles or the heroines with unbelievable breasts ;-) It doesn't rely on one- dimensional stories with predictable endings. It is a comic about human relationships and it is a comic intended for adults. Terry has built his characters and his stories around many of the same themes and strengths that originally attracted so many fans to XWP. Moreover, he bases SIP on the magic of a very special relationship, exploring all the facets of that relationship in a way that is extremely reminiscent of Xena alt. fiction.

Terry's main characters are Katchoo and Francine - two young women living in our time, the best of friends since childhood and now roommates who nevertheless had very different experiences during a few years back when they were separated. For Katchoo in particular, those years would change her forever giving birth to the nightmares she now struggles with constantly and the enemies who stalk both her...and the best friend she's secretly in love with. Francine, meanwhile, is a young woman struggling with relationships, fighting insecurities as she looks for that man who might be able to honestly love her, all the while becoming more and more aware of just how much she is already loved. The two are joined by other characters which will remind you quite a bit of counterparts in XWP.

Terry's stories, like the XWP TV series and especially the fanfic so many of us enjoy, are a wonderful mixture of humor, drama, suspense, action, and friendship all revolving around a very special relationship and the need for love in the human heart. Following is a listing of the trade novels which combine vols. 1-3 of the comic book series and make sure to visit the SIP web site through the link below.

Abstract Studios, ISBN: 1892597004, 96 pgs., 4/1/94
Introduces Katchoo and Francine in a hysterical moment from their high school days. Years later the two friends are roommates as Francine tries desperately to salvage a relationship with her wealthy, self-centered boyfriend Freddie. Katchoo, meanwhile, meets David, a lonely young man who quickly becomes infatuated with the beautiful artist, never suspecting that her heart already belongs to another. He remains clueless even as a furious Katchoo enacts an appropriate revenge against the jerk boyfriend that has dared to hurt the woman she loves. A terrific introduction to the best comic books series out there - this gets my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION! Vol. I of the trade novels includes all the issues in vol. 1 of the comic series.
   Available from:  

Abstract Studios, ISBN: 1892597012, 208 pgs., 2/1/96
My favorite volume in the series so far, this one brings the past and the present together for Katchoo in a riveting storyline which the back cover of the volume summarizes as follows: "Katchoo is a beautiful young woman living a quiet life with everything going for her. She's independent, smart and very much in love with her best friend, Francine, a loveable neurotic with a heart of gold. Everything is perfect, until Katchoo's former employer, the deadly Mrs. Parker, comes looking for her and $850,000 in missing mob money. As her idyllic life begins to fall apart, Katchoo realizes she never left her past behind, she brought it with her, and now it threatens to destroy her and the woman she loves". Terry gives us here a very gripping and poignant look at Katchoo's past while maintaining the humor and charm that has made this series such a hit with fans. Another first-class offering that gets my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION! Vol. II of the trade novels includes comic issues vol. 2, #1-9.
   Available from:  

Abstract Studios, ISBN: 1892597020, 152 pgs., 1996
This volume is like a study in relationships and in the ironies of the human heart. Preparing for his wedding, the obnoxious Freddie is nevertheless still obsessing over Francine who wants to forget him but just can't quite seem to go on with her life. Katchoo meanwhile is trying to buy David a clue since he refuses to believe he doesn't stand a chance with her. All the while, the beautiful artist and her best friend are beginning to explore other facets of their relationship - beginning to think about possibilities that may bring them the happiness they only seem to feel with each other. Terry offers us a funny, fascinating look at the human condition that earns this compilation my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION! Vol. III of the trade novels includes comic issues vol. 2, #10-13.
   Available from:  

Abstract Studios, ISBN: 1892597039, 128 pgs., 12/97
This fourth volume has the two friends concentration on their livelihood as Francine lands a job that brings with it some unexpected duties and Katchoo tries to go back to painting only to feel the bitterness of a betrayal. The back cover of this volume very succinctly describes what this comic book series is all about: "No men in tights, no silicone women, no battles won by the biggest gun...LOVE ME TENDER is the story of two young women living just next door. You went to school with them, you work beside them, they rode the elevator with you just the other day. You may not notice them in a crowd, but they laugh and cry, love and hope and look for tomorrows that may never come. LOVE ME TENDER is an intimate look into the lives of Francine and Katchoo, two ordinary women who lead extraordinary lives". Vol. IV of the trade novels includes comic issues vol. 3, #1-5
   Available from:      Borders  

Abstract Studios, ISBN: 1892597047, 152 pgs., 5/1998
This latest volume is gripping and powerful as it gives us an insight into the nightmare life Katchoo once escaped and is now being pulled back into. All the while, we also see Francine and David struggling with their own emotions over Katchoo - each desperate to help the young woman despite the deadly foes they are facing. Here's the blurb from the back cover: "Katchoo leaves her beloved Francine to look for David, the only male friend she's ever had, but finds his wicked and powerful sister Darcy Parker instead. Given an offer she can't refuse, Katchoo is forced to return to work for Darcy in the sordid world of sex and politics, or lose Francine forever. When Francine enlists the aid of Detective Walsh to help find Katchoo, she soon discovers the horrible secrets her friend has been hiding - secrets that may destroy them both!". Vol. V of the trade novels includes comic issues vol. 3, #6-12.
   Available from:  

Abstract Studios, ISBN: 1892597071, 88 pgs., 2/1/99
This latest SIP graphic novel chronicles the beginning of one of the most touching friendships in comic book history as a desperate-to-fit-in, insecure high schooler named Francine meets Katchoo - a tough girl from the other side of the tracks struggling just to survive amidst the horror of abuse and the cruelty of an uncaring world. Suffering through the angst of high school these two unlikely soulmates forge a bond fated to bring them back together no matter how far apart circumstances will drive them apart. Vol. 6 also includes the now classic SIP tribute to XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS which has Katchoo suffering a head injury and suddenly waking up in a world where she and Francine are dressed suspiciously like a certain warrior and bard of our mutual acquaintance ;-) A must for any SIP fan, this latest compilation is funny, nostalgic, and deeply stirring. In a word - brilliant. It gets my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
   Available from:  

Abstract Studios, ISBN: 1892597098, 81 pgs., 12/99
In what has to be the most poignant and bittersweet entry in the SIP series to date, this new volume finds a married, middle-aged Francine battling a deep depression, regretting those roads not taken, when an old friend makes an unexpected appearance prompting the two to think back on the circumstances that once pulled them apart. As the story flashes back to the events of years before Katchoo is getting ready for her big break as an artist when the friendship she's treasured for so long starts to fall apart. One hurtful word after another leads to a painful separation as Francine retreats to the mundane but familiar home she grew up in while Katchoo grows closer to David just as a surprising development turns David into one popular fellow. Unbeknownst to all of them a web of intrigue and danger is being spun around them - a promise of tragedy that will change their lives forever. Terry does a marvelous job with this latest compilation injecting heartbreak and humor into a masterfully crafted, sophisticated story with some of the best characterizations you'll ever find in the comic genre or anywhere else for that matter. The perfect Xmas gift folks! Vol. 7, which includes comic issues #17-24, gets my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
   Available from:      SIP Store  

Hardcover Collections

Abstract Studios, ISBN: 1892597055, 119 pgs., 6/1/98
Includes the three issues of volume 1 of the series in a hardcover book.
   Available from:  

Abstract Studios, ISBN: 1892597063, 296 pgs., 3/1/99
Includes all 13 issues of volume 2 of the series in a hardcover book.
   Available from:  

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