Two weeks ago I had it made.
Two weeks ago I was dead.
Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise series continues with It’s a Good Life, the third trade paperback. We learn more about David and Katchoo's criminal pasts here, but Moore focuses on the relationships among the characters. This proves to be a good thing; he handles human relationships better than nearly anyone else in comix, and better than he handles the thriller elements in his ongoing story.
Title: It’s a Good Life (Issues #10-13 of the second series)
Author: Terry Moore.
Freddie Femur is marrying Casey, but he continues to obsess over Francine. Francine and Katchoo, meanwhile, face eviction and accept new, smaller quarters. David returns, complicating the sexual tension that has been growing between the two women. As the story progresses, we also meet Rachel, who will become significant in future issues.
The book features several great comic moments. In particular, Freddie and Casey's relationship proves a laugh a minute-- to everyone but them. They are comic caricatures, but they are very good comic caricatures, expertly handled. Moore demonstrates the ability to create memorable moments from a few words and simple, carefully-crafted lines. Prime examples include the panels where we see Francine's response to one of Freddie's calls and the sequence depicting Casey's sexual frustration. Freddie and Casey's wedding day ranks among the funniest segments in comix.
This issue contains a number of nice Mooresian touches. Björk appears as an obnoxious little girl on a plane, accompanied by an anachronistically-dressed grandmother who is reading The Story of O. A sleazy nerd videoclerk casually reads a parody of a cheesecake comic, Bad Girls featuring "Venus Butterfly" and "Death Tits." When Francine tries to rent the lesbian movie Go Fish, he reminds her that she owes money on past rentals—- of such decidedly hetero female material as The Chippendale Boys II, Bad Boy Buns of Steel, The Mel Gibson Swimsuit Issue, and others.
These issues, by themselves, don’t have an especially strong plot; we're simply seeing the characters at a particular point in the story. Events are set in motion. The ending to this portion of the story is predictable and ant-climactic, especially disappointing because it follows the Femur wedding. Still, Moore has crafted something more common in traditional literature than comic books: human relationships as comedy, exaggerated but entirely recognizable.
My (significant) variation of this review first appeared at Bureau42