Strangers In Paradise was one of the first non-superhero comics I bought regularly as an adult. It was the first Image Issue, the colour Jim Lee pages interested me and then the rest of it I enjoyed as well. I’ve met Terry (and his wonderful wife Robyn) at several conventions and even got to chat with them outside of a convention in Toronto after a Paradise City Toronto Comic Con convention. This interview was originally published in May 1998. Forgive some of my dumber questions, I still had some growing up to do.
Strangers in Paradise is a Eisner Award winning book done by Terry Moore. Mainstream comic readers might remember it best when it was at Image Comics, but it is still one of the most successful and well known completely independent comic books around.
Jamie: What is your daily schedule like?
Terry Moore: I start work around 10 o’clock and go until about midnight, breaking for lunch and dinner. I do this seven days a week. Most of the work is writing and drawing, some of it is business and email things.
Jamie: How much time do you spend writing vs. drawing?
Terry Moore: Most of my waking hours. I go to bed hoping I’ll dream of scenes. I lay in bed in the morning running scenes and setups through my head while it is still uncluttered.
Jamie: How many times do you go over your story/script and change it before you begin to draw it?
Terry Moore: Countless. Endlessly. I write and rewrite until I finally draw and ink it and then I change it the next morning. Then I finish the sequence and make changes, then I finish the book and make changes just before I send it to the printer. Then I read the book and think I should make changes and realize I can’t anymore. Then I consider changing it for the tpb.
Jamie: Are you completely satisfied with your work when you finished?
Terry Moore: No, never a whole book. But there are panels and scenes and moments that make me very happy.
Jamie: What part of the book do you enjoy writing the most? The Poems? Comedy? Drama?
Terry Moore: I love it most when I capture the emotion I was going after, no matter how I did it. The tools don’t really matter. Just, if I can make the reader feel connected to the moment.
Jamie: Do you find it easier to write male or female characters?
Terry Moore: They require the same effort, it’s just their perks and mysteries are in different places.
Jamie: Will Katchoo ever have a sexual relationship with a female lover?
Terry Moore: She has already had several.
Jamie: Since you know women so well, what do us geeks have to do to get laid?
Terry Moore: Well, Bill Gates came up with a good solution. I don’t think he had any trouble getting dates before he got married.
Jamie: What’s the latest news about Strangers in Paradise in other media?
Terry Moore: There is no SIP interest or activity outside of the publishing industry. The HBO deal is dead.
Jamie: Any chance of a Strangers in Paradise novel?
Terry Moore: Maybe, someday. I certainly have it all outlined.
Jamie: Is there an official SIP website?
Terry Moore: Not yet. But we’re building one now.
Jamie: I noticed your recent art doesn’t emphasize the more extreme melodrama parts that was in your earlier issues. Are you consciously changing that?
Terry Moore: I think so. I allow the art to morph and evolve freely. I don’t try to conform it to a “SIP look”. I don’t want to be trapped by my own creation.
Jamie: What do you have a hardest time drawing?
Terry Moore: Architecture and segway scenes I have no emotional attachment to.
Jamie: What advice can you give to struggling indy comic publishers?
Terry Moore: Work under the assumption that all you need to do is make the coolest comic in the world and everything will work out. If sales are low, look at the book and what it has to offer that no other book in the industry has. If you have a genre comic or a new improved version of something that’s already out, you’re going to be disappointed I’m afraid. This industry needs brand new ideas packaged with jaw-dropping gorgeous art.