LezPop is the top LBGT pop culture site in Italy. Today they posted a new interview with me discussing Strangers In Paradise. If you don’t read Italian, below is the english translation:
1 – At the end of SiP, Katchoo and Francine finally have their chance to be together. Was this happy ending your plan all along or were you tempted to have them follow different paths in their life?
TM: No, the original ending I had in mind was for them to finally get together, then then something tragic happens to separate them. Because that’s how epic love stories work, right? But after the 9-11 tragedy, I changed the plan because I wanted my story to have a message of hope. Yes, life can work out. Yes, love is the answer. Yes, follow your heart. And I’m happy I made the change. I love the ending of SiP.
2 – How much influence have the fans in your work? As for SiP, for example, did you ever change your original plan about a specific plot, character, etc., to appease a part of the fans?
TM: You can’t do that because it’s a no-win situation. If I make you happy it will make somebody else mad. So I can only continue to write with the attitude I began, which is to make a story I like. After that, I can only hope some people also like it. I can’t do anything about the people who don’t and it’s no use chasing after them.
3 – In the past you talked about taking SiP characters in other media, announcing for example a novel. Have you ever thought about writing a TV series based on SiP?
TM: Yes. SiP would make a wonderful TV series because the best TV is about characters and relationships. That’s SiP. I often thought of each issue as a new episode and I was the writer/director. I made 107 episodes that way, enough to get into syndication! So, in my mind, I have watched the SiP TV series, and it was wonderful.
4 – One of the best qualities in Strangers in Paradise is how deeply the souls and the minds of the female characters are described and explored. When you started to write and draw Katchoo and Francine, did you have in mind any particular women, real or fictional?
TM: Not really. I just write about human beings who also happen to be women or men. But Katchoo isn’t one woman I know. None of the characters are one to one. I think it’s more like every person I ever knew enters my head like light on a prism, and what comes out on the other side is my fiction. However, I have had moments where I see one woman and she inspires me to write a Katchoo scene. I am like a sponge that way. If you want to write great characters, you need to spend most of your time paying attention to other people. They will inspire you and teach you.
5 – What kind of reactions did the homosexual theme bring when you first published SiP, in 1993? What was the most positive feedback you received and the most annoying among the negative ones?
TM: I got a lot of reaction. It was daring and odd for a straight man to write a story about gay love. People couldn’t figure it out. What were my intentions? In the beginning gay people didn’t know if they could trust me and the straights didn’t know what I would bother writing about something other than straights. Which is exactly what made me continue, because I hated the social division. I hated that there was us and them. In my mind, that’s bullshit. It’s all “us”. We’re all humans on one little planet and we should live like that. That was the bottom line of the entire SiP series. Katchoo said it to Francine once, “When do we get to live as if we belong here?” In SiP, that day came. And I think the most positive feedback I got was from people of other persuasions who wrote letters supporting the girls, hoping they would work it out. Even Catholic priests wrote me to support Katchoo and Francine. Because they would read the story and see what the girls were going through and what they were fighting for—which was basically peace and happiness—and every reader with a heart wanted it to work out for them. It real restored my faith in humanity to get letters from straight men and women supporting the story and expressing deep compassion for Francine and Katchoo. You know how it is, the more you know about someone, the more you care. SiP let readers know EVERYTHING about these two women, so they cared deeply.
The most annoying feedback was from lesbian reader in Seattle. She wrote a nasty letter early in the series saying if this was going to be a story about straight guy David turning gay girl Katchoo straight, she was going to hunt me down and hurt me. So I used her letter’s address to get her phone number and I called her. She was shocked I had found her and called. I assured SiP wasn’t like that, keep reading, give it time to unfold for goodness sakes. Put the gun down, you know? Put the torches down, tell the lynch mob to go home. Some people.
6 – On April 29 you announced on your official blog a new Strangers in Paradise story (http://terrymooreart.tumblr.com/post/84248555033/coming-this-august-a-new-strangers-in-paradise) featuring the characters as 6-year-old kids. What prompted you to return to your SiP characters? Can you give us a preview of what the fans will find in this new chapter of the saga?
TM: One of my all time favorite pages in SiP is during an imagination scene where Freddie pictures he and ex-wife Casey as 6 year olds from Calvin and Hobbes. The scene shows these two 6 years olds having a divorce fight. It’s just priceless, because when we argue we are like children. So this year I wanted to something SiP and decided to do an entire new issue of the SiP gang as 6 year olds. Just for fun. The cover is online now. The book comes out in August. I hope fans enjoy it.
7 – SiP – as your other most important works, Echo and Rachel Rising – is a product of independent comics. Over the years, however, you have also worked for Marvel and DC Comics, the leader publishing labels in the market. How different is your approach, in the creation of comics, drawing for your own label – Abstract Studio – or for the leader publishing companies?
TM: It is night and day, there is no comparison. Making your own comics is like having your own band—complete freedom to sink or swim. Working for mainstream companies is like working for Microsoft. You do what you’re told or you don’t work. Your mainstream books come and go and nobody seems to care because it’s all about the next one. Mainstream is about the money and that’s all you’re going to get from it. Indy publishing is about making books you love. You have to love them to do it because there are better ways to make a living. Like work in mainstream!
8 – Name one thing of SiP that makes you most proud of your work. One the other hand, is there anything you regret, one that – being able to go back – you would like to change?
TM: I love how SiP has touched the lives of readers. People still write me and tell me how it touched them or helped them. It makes me feel like it was worth the 12 years of work I put into it. On the other hand, the biggest regret is that I waited so long before trying to make comics. I wasted so much time in my 20’s and 30’s not doing what I loved. Then when I finally took the leap of faith to start a comics career, my whole life opened up. Why did I wait?
9 – Looking back to your entire career, which of your works you feel as the most outstanding?
TM: That’s a Sophie’s Choice. I can’t pick one of my children over the other. I can tell you the best moments of my career have been when one of my literary heroes told me he was reading my books and liking them—that I was a good writer. That validation made my heart soar.
10 – Can SiP fans expect another return after the new issue coming out next August?
TM: Let’s take it one step at a time. No spoilers.