Review: The Collected Strangers in Paradise Volume 1
Francine loves her boyfriend Freddy, but wants to wait until their first anniversary before sleeping together. Freddy is tired of waiting and continually pressures Francine for sex before finally cheating on her with another woman. Meanwhile Katina Choovanski, aka Kachoo, Francine's wild child housemate, meets a nice boy named David who is unprepared for the mayhem she drags him into. When Francine, distraught and naked, crashes her car outside their house David is there to watch over her while Katchoo seeks revenge.
The Collected Strangers in Paradise Volume 1 is comprised of first three issues of this long running comic, first published in 1993. I used to read SiP a few years ago, but missed and issue here and there and eventually found I was totally lost in the complicated soap opera style plot. When Comixology had a sale on the trade paperbacks I seized the opportunity to pick up the whole series, and now I'm starting again from the beginning and enjoying it in the right order. So far it's every bit as good as I remember. The main characters are total train wrecks (except for David, whose equally messed up back story is still to come), and I enjoy the schadenfreude that comes with watching them screw things up so badly. Other reviewers have complained that Katchoo and Francine are too much of a cliché ( a “man hating lesbian”, a “weak dependant damsel” etc.) but they are revealed to have more depth as the series goes on. The plot also gets increasingly odd and complicated and it sucked me in. For the most part the series focuses on the relationships between David (who fancies Katchoo), Katchoo (who is in love with Francine), and Francine, who is at first in love with Freddie, but also loves Katchoo, but is not in love with her (or is she?). I love the fierce, damaged Katchoo, who reminds me of Nils, one of the heroes of my favourite comic series Platinum Grit.
The art consists of simple black and white line drawings, and gets a bit less rough looking as the series goes on. Refreshingly, there is a bit of variety in the body shapes of the women, with the slim blonde Katchoo being contrasted with the much fuller figured Francine.
The Collected Strangers in Paradise Volume 1 is a promising beginning to an enjoyable and addictive series. If you stick with it you may find you fall in love with these flawed, provocative, delightful women the same way I have.
First Published: 1993
Rated: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
PS. I realised after posting this that SiP doesn't technically qualify for Femlitica since it's written by a man, but it is very much a story about women and I like it so I'm making an exception.