Ever After

August 24, 2007

So, it’s over….

Suzanne asked me to go to the mailbox on Tuesday.  And I saw a bulky package at the bottom of the mailbox. I didn’t even curse the lazy mailman for putting it in the mailbox and not at my doorstop.  It was here.  After weeks of waiting for it to arrive in Barnes & Noble or online at Amazon. But finally, I bought it… and now it was here. The last Strangers in Paradise trade paperback

I was going to read Strangers in Paradise: Ever After very slowly.  One issue a night.  That’s how I was going to do it.  I even was going to let Suzanne finish it first (admittedly she was home/sick at the time). So, Tuedsay night I read the first one. Wednesday night I read the second one.

And last night I devoured the rest of it.  There was too much: The talk between Nikki and Francine, the reading of the will, Freddie’s redemption, fall, and redemption again, the confrontation between Francine and Brad, and the truth about… well that would be giving everything away. 

The best moment… well, not the best moment… cause that will make me seem more pervy than I am… But there was a great moment between Terry Moore (the artist) and the readers of Strangers in Paradise with an aside for horny fanboys everywhere. 

Terry has gone out of his way to make this story about love.  This love happens to be between two women, Francine and Katchoo.  And these two experience and explore every aspect of love.  Now, obviously this attaches the word LESBIAN to the book. This is fine.  Katchoo is bisexual by an outsider’s definition (that she has had sex with both men and women).  She would probably describe herself as a lesbian who loves a man: David.

But when you attach the word LESBIAN to anything aimed at a primarily male oriented audience, other words get attached to it simply by association, like lines put on a website to get noticed on a Yahoo search: YOUNG HOT LESBIAN TEENS NAKED SEX HORNY DRIPPING BOOBS THREESOME

And Terry went out of his way to not descend to that level. He avoided any overly titilaing images from his comic book, specifically nude shots. Yes the girls were occassionally in bathing suits, in underwear, and (once) stripping their clothes off in the middle of a park. But this was all for dramatic affect.  He took the high road. He could show the girls naked if he wanted.  It was a self-published comic book.  He didn’t need to answer to anyone (except maybe his wife). He went the artistic route.

Tho as an artist and a male, I’m sure that drawing the nude female form is probably very appealing.  So, in the final issues of the comic book, there’s a scene where Francine removes her clothes (reminiscent of the original mini-series) and you see her breast.  Not the outline…  Not the curve, artistically drawn.  Nope.

Full on boob shot. Breast, areola, nipple, tattoo.

Now that it’s over, over 100 issues in. Well-past the point of anyone who was following the story just to see some boobies… now he draws it. 

One final FUCK YOU to anyone who wanted to pigeonhole this story.  One final FUCK YOU to anyone who asked him for nudity in the comic book. And one final, “Hey, if there’s anyone left, who love this work AND will enjoy seeing Francine’s breasts, then here you go.” (okay, I might be reaching with that last idea).

I loved it on every level.

I will miss these characters a lot.  11 years by my reckoning.  I walked into a comic book store in 1996 (not my typical one), and picked up two series I had heard about: Strangers in Paradise (vol 3) #3 and Astro City (vol 2) #1.

And (other than when I switched from comic books to trade paperbacks), I haven’t missed an issue.  I have introduced this series to Michael, Gregg, Shari, Jaeger, and Suzanne.  And they have introduced the series to many others as well.  One day, if/when I think he’ll appreciate it, I will introduce it to my son, Zack. 

I know that Terry Moore is not leaving us, and that he plans on writing these characters in a novel form, and I would never be surprised if some day SiP makes its way onto a television series. But, regardless, I will miss these girls. 


Sitting on the Sidelines

June 13, 2007

I’ve been aware of a movement within my pop-culture being. It’s nothing serious, nothing that is truly that tragic, yet….Well, it’s a complete departure from where I’ve been recently, and in a sense most of my life. I’m no longer at the forefront of the entertainment wave.

It’s not that movies, television, or music are no longer being directed at me. But rather that it’s the reason why movies, television, and music is not directed at people of my generation. And that is that I don’t have the time for it. If the wave hits me, it is well after the fact. I am standing on the shoreline by the lifeguard stand, while others are out in the middle of it, riding the wave and catching it.

I wish it was for a really cool reason, like that I’ve become bored with mass-produced, 30-something media, and I’m off into the cyber-ooze to find something pure, not brought down to the lowest-common-denominator, and achieveing artistic merit in the truest sense of the word. But it’s not.

The truth is that between a 8 hour work day that starts at 5:30 AM, sitting in a traffic filled commute for 2-3 (yesterday it was 4) hours a day, being married, supporting a household, raising a child… that there just isn’t time. And the time that I have is usually spent with things that are easily digestable, predictable, and chat worthy like sports radio or American Idol. I don’t have time for a full meal, so I’m content to have the fast-food of pop-culture.

I remember talking to my parents, about cultural phenomenon that happened when I was a young kid. And they’d be missing these pieces of culture that everyone talked about. They didn’t have time for it. They were absent from the entertainment of the day. And I feel it happening to me.

Now I understand that it isn’t a tragedy that I’m only hearing music when it hits popular radio, seeing television shows weeks or months after they were released, and only seeing movies that both my wife and I like. But the part that’s bugging me currently has to do with Strangers in Paradise.

Strangers in Paradise (or SiP) is a comic book series about two women named Francine and Katchoo. To call it a comic book or a graphic novel reduces the power of it, but not from an elitist way. It truly achieves artistic and emotional merit. Now, after 14 years and over 100 issues, the creator Terry Moore, has ended the series with issue #90 which came out last week.

The issue is that I stopped reading individual issues of comic books shortly after Suzanne moved in with me (fall of 2003). I just couldn’t see sitting down with a huge stack of comic books, as was my norm, and reading them fresh from the comic book store. I mean one of the reasons you get married is to have companionship, and I always read comic books like it was my sworn duty.

When comic books are collected in trade paperback form, to me, it feels like there is less urgency. I can read the whole thing in one night, or slowly take my time reading only a chapter (issue) at a time. And usually the next trade isn’t coming out for 6-9 months.

But, you do feel like you are behind the curve. It’s like running a marathon, and you’re finishing in the “well, good for you” group instead of one of the front runners.

Plus, with the Internet, there is discussion, conversation, and spoilers. And I want to interact. I want to give my opinion, see what others think, participate, and enjoy. And by the time the trade is released (next month I hope), it mostly will be done, passe, after the fact, as it were. It’s like wanting to wait til the Sopranos to come out on DVD, and hearing it talked about on the radio and television, you have to put your fingers in your ears and go “lalalalalalalalalala”.

*Sigh*

The other recourse, is to go to a comic book shop, buy the last 8 issues of the series, read them, and then buy the trade paperback so it fits nicer on my shelf.

Don’t like that option either.

I’ll just watch others surf while I play in the sand as the occassional remnants of a wave wash across my feet.