Comic Review – Rachel Rising by Terry Moore

Rachel Rising Cover

I should start this by saying that I’m a rabid Terry Moore fan, and will happily bore you for hours should you give me the chance to talk about his work. However, I will also say that, whilst I enjoyed Echo, the series that came before this, it never quite hit the height of Strangers in Paradise for me, so I approached this with excitement but also a little trepidation.

Horror and comics is a combination I haven’t had a great deal of experience with. The walking dead is great, but not scary horror. In fact, there aren’t any ‘proper horror’ comics I can think of, not since Sandman twenty years ago. I am thrilled, and a little creeped-out to announce that Terry Moore does horror as well as he does people, and relationships, and funny.

The story, in a winding way, introduces us to our heroine, who dies, only not really, and her friend, who does much the same. Through her, we discover that the town in which she lives has not always been the peaceful little place it now is. It has a history of terrible happenings, a history which is coming back to haunt it, quite literally.

The question is, why is it scary? Well, first off, the actual ideas are scary. The little girl who kills people, the old dude whose very dead wife still occupies her old armchair, waking up buried. These things work, and are drawn beautifully. It feel cold when I read these comics and walk through the snow with the people who inhabit them.

Secondly, the character reactions, are, once again, spot on. It’s not all mad hysteria, and each person has their own way of reacting, responding to the insane things happening to them. What’s key, is that you believe them, in who they are, and why they do what they do. Except the old dude, he’s just nasty.

Third, the comic medium is again put to excellent use. The more outlandish parts of the story are supported by wonderful  breaking of the panels, whole page reveals and edgy, challenging artwork. Terry also excels in telling moments using silence, a page of nine panels revealing a very simple task that provides lulls in the comic. Even those, though, have my skin crawling as I wait for something to happen.

My best moment so far? The kindly vicar offering a hand to a poor little girl. Such love, such kindness. Hehehe.

I’ve said it before, but if you like comics, you should be reading Terry Moore, and if you like good storytelling, the same applies. I can now happily add to that, if you like horror, you should be reading Terry Moore.


Review – Strangers in Paradise by @TerryMoore

This is one of the most individual, heart-wrenching and wonderful comics ever written. Following the colourful, fallible and ultimately human Katchoo, Francine and David, and a host of equally lovable supporting characters, the series takes them from a semi-normal suburban life to shoot outs with hit-women and the most frustrating love triangle ever written.

The comics are writ through with humour and passion, anger and sadness. Indeed it is the emotional journey of the characters that resonates long after the story is finished. This is not a comic for fans of lycra-clad dudes pummelling one another. If however you want to read a story that feels real, that sucks you in and makes you care deeply for the people in it, this may be for you.

Of course, the art also has to be mentioned. Beautifully drawn, this is another step up from superhero comics. Every character is unique, and not just because they have a different costume. Face shape, expressions, build, everything belongs wholly to the character. Terry Moore also uses his lettering to fabulous effect, angry words leaping across and outside panels.

With artwork that sings and words reminiscent of Gone with Wind crossed with just a dash of Tarantino, Strangers in Paradise may not be to everyone’s taste, but I urge you to at least give it a try. If you can get to the end of the first comic without falling for at least one of the characters, then you probably aren’t entirely human.


The thing that makes Terry Moore so compelling and moving to read

Terry Moore, creator of the wonderful Strangers in Paradise. There have been a million reviews of Strangers, mostly focusing on how Terry writes female characters. When I cajoled my wife into reading the series, she spent the first few graphics assuming that Terry was a woman, a not uncommon event.

However, whilst I agree whole heartedly with those reviews, it’s not his female characterisation that really gets me. The thing I love about Strangers in Paradise and indeed everything that he writes, is his dialogue.

His characters sound very natural, using rhythms and words that ring true. At the same time, he isn’t afraid to throw in a sentence that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood movie. I think that the naturalism of most of it makes the filmic parts work and not jar, which they easily could. The comics in general have that feeling of heightened reality; real people in not quite real situations, but reacting in very real ways.

In many ways, that last sentence is perhaps a great definition of effective fiction. Once the audience believes in the characters, you can create situations that make for interesting and dynamic stories. The challenge is then creating reactions that are genuine and real and the dialogue to go with them.

Terry Moore is the master at this. It’s impossible to not get invested in his characters, even when they are involved in entirely mad situations.