So this is ever after. It's been a while, but we are finally at the end.
I first picked up Terry Moore's Strangers In Paradise series when I was 18, I think. I can't even begin to describe the story, because Terry Moore has chocked it full of plot twists and entanglements. The plot was totally unbelievable, yet the characters are so raw and likeable that I just kept reading.
There is this girl, Katina "Katchoo"" Choovanski and her best friend from high school, Francine Peters. Then there is this guy, David Qin, who is sort of in love with Katchoo, but Katchoo is sort of in love with Francine. Oh, and Francine has problems - she desperately wants to find The Right Guy, get married, have children - but her taste in men sucks. So one day her boyfriend cheats on her, and Katchoo steps in and threatens to castrate Francine's cheating beau. It was funny, and there's always humour in Terry Moore's comics. There's friendship, love, loyalty and heartbreaks. But always you know they will come through for each other.
In between, Katchoo gets dragged off to jail, where her shady past as a high-class prostitution for a high powered mafia group comes up (the plot is unbelievable, really, but so Over The Top that it's entertaining in its own way)
The series finally ended with volume 19 of the trade paperback. I have been with Katchoo, Francine and David for 13 years. The ending is tied up with a big pink bow and it ends well for most of the characters, even Tambi, who finally allowed herself a human side. Is it satisfying? There were moments in the past few years when it seemed like Terry Moore was really going to end the story with Katchoo heart-broken. Instead he continued, writing about how Katchoo, with the help of David and their friend Casey, found her way to healing through her painting.
For more than a decade I followed Terry Moore's characters, his ridiculous plots - I even considered having a tattoo like Katchoo's on my body. Why? Because Strangers In Paradise is a story of how we come to Paradise, lost, unsure, and someone is there to hold our hand, to guide us through a beautiful place where we need not be afraid. It reminds us that love will guide us.
My ex used to call me a "Katchoo", because of my anger. But over the years I find myself more a Francine, an insecure girl who just wants to be loved - but is somewhat obtused about love. Or maybe even a David, who loves whole-heartedly, even though he knows he will never be the One True Love of the object of his affections. I can even see a Tambi in me - a strong, formidable character who enjoys scaring people. I guess I love Strangers In Paradise, because I am a composite of all of the characters. I am a Stranger In Paradise.