If you know me at all, you know that I like to read comic books. Right now, I mostly only buy the collected editions rather than the single monthlies because it saves me some money and they are easier to place on my book shelf than the floppies. So a few years ago, maybe 2005, I had been reading online about this comic book called "Strangers in Paradise" (SiP) by Terry Moore. Just about everyone was raving about it, and from the descriptions, it sounded like a story I could enjoy. So, I found the first trade paperback collection and read it.
And I was in love.
This volume collected the three issues from the initial mini-series, which became volume one. Turns out, Moore decided to keep writing. So I began to snag the other TPBs, and I couldn't get enough. I loved the story so much that I felt the need to collect the story in all its forms: single issue, TPBs and hardcover collections. The toughest part was finding all the single issues. I was able to buy most of the TPBs and HCs via eBay in sets that were significantly cheaper than if I had bought them from a comics shop. And interestingly enough, when I purchased the HCs, most of them had been autographed by Moore.
Then Moore decided to introduce another version: the pocket books. These were smaller books that would allow readers to carry them with them just about anywhere. They truly were almost small enough to fit in your pocket. And yes, I bought those, too. But the single issues were most difficult because there were almost 10 years worth of issues to find (roughly 75 or so at that time). I had purchased a few of the more recent ones at a local comic shop, and then I remembered something that gave me some hope. A shop back near home in Evansville, Ind., has a large section of $1 comics. I had shopped there a few times before and decided to e-mail the owner to see if he happened to have any SiP issues in the $1 bins. Sure enough he did, nearly 40 issues. So, thanks to a great shop owner and the power of PayPal, I purchased the books (and saved shipping by picking them up the next time I went home). The rest of the issues I was able to find through sales online (mostly through some of the steep discounts provided by Mile High Comics).
I know, crazy.
Then at some point that I don't actually remember, Moore announced that he would be bringing SiP to a close. Yes, I was sad. But sometimes, stories just have to come to an end. And SiP ended with issue 90 in the summer of 2007.
Issue 90 also came with 3 other variant covers that when placed side-by-side showed the three main characters together: Katchoo, Francine and David.
Knowing that the end was coming, I had continued to buy the single issues as published, but decided against reading them so that I could read the last few issues in a single sitting, thus hoping to get more enjoyment out of the story and not having to wait however long it would take to for issue 90 to hit the stands after the publication of issue 89.
That summer, Moore also mentioned on his blog (July 7, 2007) that an omnibus edition of the entire series would be available the following summer. YAY! Another version to own. Sweet!
Summer 2008 came and went with no omnibus edition. How sad. But in October 2008, Moore blogged again and stated:
"True though, we are letting the trade paperbacks go out of print to make way for THE SIP OMNIBUS, which is scheduled for release next summer at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con. By then there will be only two formats available for SiP: the omnibus and the ever-popular pocket editions. This means no more trade paperbacks. Because of this, we’ve decided to sell the remaining stock at half-price. Of the 19 tpb’s, 5 are already out of print, so check the store to see if the book you want is still available. So, yeah, the SiP Omnibus is happening and it’s official and we’ve already started working on it, because it’s big. I mean, big. B. I. G. Big. How big? Big. But cheap! More details later."
Great news. Still had to wait almost a year, but that's cool. Good things come to those who wait.
On February 19, 2009, Moore mentioned on his blog that he was caught up on his work, finally, and would be moving forward with those projects next on his list, including "then spend two weeks of evenings completing the omnibus and getting it ready to print." Good, it was still on.
On March 30, 2009, an update: "Things are good in SiPland. I’m working on the omnibus, trying to get it ready for this summer."
Then, on April 13, 2009, the wind went out of my SiP sails...
"Sad to report we won’t be publishing the SiP Omnibus this year. With the economy affecting all my business partners—shops and distributor—it’s just not the right time for an expensive collection, no matter how cool. Pick your moments, as they say. And although I have the book near completion, now is not a good time for my partners to try and commit to a $150 book. I’ll have to wait. Thing is, we let the trades go out of print, anticipating the pocket edition in its softcover format as the replacement. So, for the foreseeable future, the SiP series will be available in pocket editions only. Patience."
I was disappointed, yes, but I understood the economics of the situation. And patience I would have.
Then just a few weeks later on May 5, 2009, Moore stunned the masses: "AWOL cause I’m binging on the SiP Omnibus. Yep, it’s on again and for sure. Debut at San Diego con. Preorders offered here soon. Stay tuned."
Had Moore just been teasing in April when he said that the omnibus wouldn't be published this year? Was he trying to make way for a period in which he could devote a lot of time to putting it together without being asked about it? Maybe, but I think he probably had intended on waiting because of the economy. But I'm so glad he changed his mind.
A week later, on May 12, 2009, one day before my birthday, Moore sent out the news that I believe every SiP fan had been waiting for: "Heads up: We’re launching the SiP Omnibus for sale on-line later today! Stand by!"
Oh, believe me, I was standing by.
Four and a half hours later, the time had finally come: "The Strangers In Paradise Omnibus is now available for sale!!!"
The description of the book made it sound amazing and a must have for my collection, I mean I have every other copy, why shouldn't I have this one. But then I saw the price: $159.95 plus $15 shipping. Whew, that is a lot. But consider the details:
- The Complete Strangers in Paradise series
- All 107 issues plus extra issues
- Two hardback volumes collecting the story, 1,056 pages and 1,072 pages, respectively
- A third, 168-page hardback volume collecting all the covers in color
- All three hardcovers will be held in a custom slipcase
- Moore also will fix errors from the original run and improve the art
- The Omnibus will be limited to 1,500 copies, signed and numbered
With all of that, it was still $175 total, so I wasn't sure if I should preorder or not. But the next day, my birthday, I decided, what the hell. I needed it to make my collection complete. So, I did, in fact, preorder. And now I look forward to the first of August when they ship.
Moore, who likes to post drawings he does related to the characters of SiP on his blog, also included the artwork that will grace the back of the slipcase.
I am truly looking forward to this collection.
So much so, that I've decided to re-read the series leading up to the release of the omnibus. While I read, I will blog my thoughts on the series, issue by issue. So if you are interested in learning more about SiP, or have already read it and want to just read my thoughts, check out the new blog "Strangers in Paradise: A Review" soon for my ongoing review. I will plan to review one issue a day, but might be able to review more than that on certain days.
update 10/11/09: I never did start reviewing SiP. In the meantime, I did receive my copy of the Omnibus, and it is beautiful. I have a number of other things going on, so I'm not sure when/if I'll get to this. But if I do, I will post here the link to the ongoing review.