TERRY MOORE: PARADISE FOUND
The life and art of the creator of
Strangers in Paradise
Review by Benita Story and Scott Story
If you have ever been to an artist’s alley at a comic convention, then you probably know the feeling of the energy that radiates from the gathering of such creative people. “Terry Moore: Paradise Found” radiates the same energy, and you cannot help but be inspired by this artist and his work. If you are already one of Terry’s fans, then this DVD is pure gold; if you are not yet acquainted with his work, then this video will leave you wanting to see more. The DVD is broken into different sections, each covering a various aspect of Terry’s life, interests and art projects.
Terry Moore: Paradise Found – This covers Terry Moore’s background, both in life and art. Here he talks about his childhood, part of which was spent in Africa when his father was transferred there, as well as where Terry’s art style comes from and how he finally settled on the four main “Strangers in Paradise” characters. Paradise Found is, in our opinion, the best section on the DVD. Terry explains that after a career as a guitarist, then a second career as a video editor, he went through a midlife crisis (he was in his 30’s) and decided he would pursue a career as an artist. At first he worked to become a newspaper strip cartoonist, but after years of rejection he knew he had to try a different approach if he wanted to make it. So, Terry sorted through his collected work, threw out all the “crap” (as he called it), and turned to the short stack of what he considered his more original ideas. From these strips he found his core cast for “Strangers in Paradise.” And 10+ years later, they remain the main characters that his fans have come to love. Paradise Found is well organized and very informative to both fans and those who wish to succeed in the comic industry. It is also inspirational, reinforcing that a career as an independent comic book creator is still possible.
Penciling & Inking with Terry Moore – This part is way too short. It shows Terry quickly penciling out a page and beginning to ink it. What we wish this section had done, and what would have been more helpful to those trying to get into the industry, would have been more information on where Terry gets ideas for layouts and story ideas, who his main influences are in art and prose, and what is some of the equipment he uses, such as the paper, ink, brushes, pencils, references, etc. Some of these are briefly touched upon, but unfortunately this part of the DVD ends just as it starts to get really interesting.
A Look Inside Terry’s Sketchbook – This offers a fascinating, if brief, insight into how Terry’s ideas evolve, what he draws while watching TV, and some nice preliminary sketches that eventually make it into “Strangers in Paradise.” It is also fun to see the ideas and drawings that Terry didn’t finish, because this gives us a unique perspective on how his mind works.
The Evolution of SiP – Again, we found this section disappointing. It showed several examples of Terry’s art then and now, but with no explanation of how and why the changes in his style came to be. We thought this part of the DVD was unnecessary, because every busy artist’s style is going to develop and change over a decade of work—something would be wrong if it did not.
Songs from SiP – For many fans, the poetry and songs within the comic are very important, and it is interesting to hear the actual music accompanying the lyrics that we have read over the years. Terry Moore is an accomplished musician and songwriter, so it was great to see this side of him and his vision brought to life. “This Mask I Wear” was an especially powerful song--personally, we feel it ought to be heard and seen more than just in the pages of SiP: it needs to be a monument to those who have suffered through the torture of child molestation. The “Songs from SiP” section as a whole, though, was too long and we would have rather had a couple less songs in favor of more time for the shorter sections of the DVD.
SiP Locations in the Real World – The information in this section was wonderful. So many of the settings in comics are made up and there is little consistency from issue to issue – just lots of generic, towering buildings. To see the real places, as seen in SiP, brings a touch of realism and validity to Terry’s stories. We’ll bet in people in Houston are proud to have their city shown so realistically. It makes us wish more stories were set in real, recognizable places.
Making the video – A fun and funny look into how the video was made. It also gives us a wonderful chance to see Terry Moore acting naturally with his off-beat, dry sense of humor. Not too long, not too short, but just right!
All-in-all, this DVD holds quite a bit of excellent information and material. It does fall short in a couple of places, especially in the areas of Terry’s personal influences, his “tricks of the trade,” and what has made the evolutionary differences in his style since the beginning. Overall the DVD gets a high rating, and I am sure we will watch it again and again.
Reviewer: Scott and Benita Story
Scott and Benita Story are currently promoting their web strip "Johnny Saturn" on Graphic Smash http://www.graphicsmash.com/series.php?name=johnnysaturn&view=current
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