Nearly every lesbian I know has a story about that one book or TV show or movie that made everything click into place for them about their sexuality. For me, it was Terry Moore‘s comic book series Strangers in Paradise, a legendary narrative that spanned 12 years, 100 issues, and a dozen genres. At its core, SiP is a love story about two women — good Christian girl Francine Peters, who has only ever wanted to be known and loved and also to fit into some size six jeans, and semi-reformed badass Katina Choovanski, who has only ever wanted Francine — that dance around their desires for a decade before [SPOILER ALERT!] finally falling forever into each other’s arms.
I’m not being hyperbolic when I say I used to sit out beside my mailbox and wait for my postman to deliver new issues of SiP. And when they arrived, I’d shut myself away in my room and dive into every panel for hours on end. One time, my roommate accidentally tossed out an unread issue with the recycling and I made her take me to the recycling center where I climbed over a barbed-wire fence in the middle of the night and jumped into a bin with thousands of newspapers to recover my comic — because I couldn’t wait another day to find out what was happening with my two best girls. So you can imagine how heavy my heart was in 2005 when I waved goodbye to Francine and Katchoo in the last issue of their epic saga.
And you can also imagine my my surprise (shock! awe! full-tilt hysteria!) when Terry Moore announced via Tumblr last week that he’ll be publishing a new Strangers in Paradise story in 2013. Along with the gulp-worthy portrait above, he teased: ” You’ll have to wait until  to find out what America’s cutest couple has been up to, but one thing I can tell you, they’re very clean.”
Wait until 2013! Oh, no. No, indeed. You can’t promise me something like that and not offer up any details! Which is exactly what I told Terry when I emailed begging for information. Always affable, Terry took time out of his San Diego Comic-Con prep to email me back. I could practically hear his grin behind every answer.
Will the 2013 story be a single issue or a mini-series?
The Strangers in Paradise story for 2013 will be a full-length novel, with some illustrations. There are several reason for that: I have too much story to draw. I want to write novels, and more specifically, I want SiP to be my first novel. I don’t want to make another series that suffers from my usual low orders in the comic book direct market. It’s crazy for me to keep making mainstream fiction and then release it only in stores catering to Marvel-DC iconography. My orders are the same today as they were in 1996. The message is clear: that is all I can do in the comics market. If I want SiP to grow, I’m going to have to add on another market. The SiP novel will be my crossover book.
What made you decide to revisit Kat and Fran?
Well, to be honest, I never actually left. I just shushed you guys out of the house. I went on to work on other projects, but I have not mentally moved on or moved away from the girls. I can’t, they’re too deeply ingrained in me. I always knew I wanted to make more, but I thought if I took a break and stretched myself on other stories and art styles, I’d come back a better creator and make something fresh. Now with the 20th anniversary of SiP next year, the time feels right. And, I’m amazed that the book hasn’t faded away. Thrilled is a better word. Readers are very loyal to Francine and Katchoo. I’ve had a lot of encouragement.
Can you give us any hints about where the story will pick up?
It’s in the now. You remember them as being interesting and cute … back then. But the world has changed, we’ve changed, so we may also worry they’ll come back looking dated. If they did come back trying to do what they did before, it wouldn’t work, it’d be embarrassing, like a ’70s band reunion. But they are certain people who you see after some years and they have grown and evolved with the world and you encounter them and they blow you away. You think, “Holy crap, they’re cooler now than before!” That’s the impression I have in my mind with the new story: I saw them today and they are so freaking cool. Now, what they’re up to, I’m not saying… yet.
That crash you just heard was me making a beeline for my mailbox, where I will be camping out until 2013, when Fran and Kat are safely in my arms once again. In the meantime, I’ll continue reading Rachel Rising, Moore’s latest badass lady comic book.
What do you think of the news that Terry is publishing a full-length Strangers in Paradise novel?