By Beau Smith
Hard to believe that a whole week has gone by? even harder to believe that we’ve already covered some of your favorite comic book creators. Well, boys and girls? there are more to come.
This week I traveled down to Houston Texas to talk to one of the most semi-mysterious guys in comics?”Texas” Terry Moore?the creator, writer and artist of the hit comic book, Strangers In Paradise.
Most folks think they know Terry. They think that he is that soft-spoken nice guy that they meet at the comic book conventions. They think he is that slow talkin’, slow walkin’ guy that writes about chicks and all of the soap opera that they call lives in Strangers In Paradise. They think he is a sensitive guy.
They are so wrong.
Before I spill the beer on “Texas” Terry Moore and his secret life, I figure I better let those of you that haven’t heard all the dope on Moore in on the front line stuff. Here’s a little info on Terry.
The first issue of Strangers In Paradise was published by Antarctic Press in November 1993. It was the first comic book ever drawn by Terry Moore.
Moore had conceived of the idea for SIP while trying to develop a comic strip for newspaper syndication. After repeated failures, Moore visited a comic book store and discovered the new wave of small press publishers enjoying success in the comic book field. He spent a year researching the comic book business while writing and drawing the first issue of his story.
Borrowing a title from an old Tony Bennett hit, Moore submitted copies of his comic to a number of publishers before agreeing to a three-issue mini-series with Antarctic.
After the mini-series, Moore launched his own imprint, Abstract Studio, and began self-publishing a regular Strangers In Paradise series beginning with a new issue one in September of 1994. In 1996, Strangers In Paradise won the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series based on the strength of issues one through eight, the story arc found in the I Dream Of You trade paperback.
Moore joined forces with Jim Lee, Kurt Busiek and James Robinson later in 1996 to launch a new imprint, Homage Comics. SIP began a new Strangers In Paradise story arc for the occasion, with a new number one issue and full color. Moore released eight issues of SIP through Homage before returning to his own imprint to continue the series.
Today, Strangers In Paradise is read worldwide and has been reprinted in seven languages. Moore continues to write, draw and ink every issue personally, publishing a new issue of SIP every six weeks.
Moore’s goals for the future include an extensive library of SIP stories, an SIP novel and, yes, a syndicated comic strip. You should really take the time to go and visit Terry’s Starangers In Paradise website http://www.strangersinparadise.com. You’ll find lots of cool stuff there as well as some great art and insight on what Strangers In Paradise is all about.
Now getting’ back to the real “Texas” Terry Moore. I, along with Billy Tucci , have spent more than our share of time with “Texas” Terry Moore in the various bars and dives that ya find when you’re on the convention trail. The three of us have closed many a joint down in our time on the road. We’ve seen our share of raised eyebrows when folks at cons see the three of us together. After all, we make an odd trio. Billy, a sawed-off, former Army Ranger and dead on Yankee that makes his livin’ writin’ and drawin’ a sword slingin’ Asian babe; me, a stump jumpin’, semi-southern self proclaimed Cowboy Warrior King; and then there’s Terry? a born and raised Texan with a past history of bein’ a hell of a bar room rock and roll musician that has seen the inside of more Texas bars and roadhouses than one can imagine. As kids when most of us were ridin’ our bikes to the local drug store to buy comics, “Texas” Terry was already on the road livin’ the rock and roll life style.
I was waitin’ outside this semi-seedy joint in Houston when all of a sudden a swirl of dust was makin’ it’s way towards the parkin’ lot from the dirt road that snaked it’s way to the place. I thought I was in a rerun of Miami Vice when this fancy Mercedes sidewinds into the parkin’ lot. This wasn’t your rich grandaddy’s Mercedes? nope. It was some souped up, special ordered job. The kind drug lords and pro football players drive. But it wasn’t a big time dope peddler or pro football star that slid out of the car.
It was “Texas” Terry Moore.
Hell, his sunglasses musta cost more than the truck I drive. Terry smiled and shook my hand. As always I noticed his callused fingertips. This came from years of guitar playin and dodgin’ beer bottles from behind chicken wire. We walked into the dark saloon. The place was semi-crowded for the middle of the day. Most folks in there looked like they had seen the bottom of a beer bottle more than once. It was like a moment out of the TV series Cheers when they all yelled “Howdy” to Terry. It was a fact that everyone here knew his name.
We sat at a back booth and the pretty waitress dressed like a cowgirl cheerleader brought us some drinks. Me a longneck Lonestar beer and Terry had a glass of what could’ve been anything from water to vodka. I couldn’t tell and I didn’t ask. It ain’t manly to question a man’s drink when he’s buyin’.
Terry took off his sunglasses (He didn’t want to get mistaken for Neil Gaiman) and took a drink from the glass. We talked over the current state of comic books and the fact that no one had caught on to Billy Tucci yet and kicked his Yankee ass out of comics. We both agreed that what Billy lacked in height he made up for in manly charm. ‘Sides, Billy always picked up the tab.
The owner of the joint stopped by the booth and greeted Terry like a long lost son. I saw Terry reach into his wallet and pull out a wad of bills and give it to the owner. The owner tried to refuse it m but “Texas” Terry would have none of that. The owner thanked Terry and waved for the waitress to bring us another round. I asked Terry what that little exchange was all about. I thought that maybe Terry was payin’ a huge bar tab or somethin’. Ends up it was payment for the owner’s big ol’ freezer that used to be at the end of the bar. Seems Terry was in one night when things got a little outta hand with some ol’ boys from Arkansas. Terry had pull out that big ol’ gun he has? the one nobody knows about?and had to persuade those boys to pack their butts back to Clinton Land in a hurry. The poor freezer got shot dead durin’ the conversation.
Well, as the second round of drinks arrived I reminded Terry about why I came down to Houston. He smiled and said that he was lookin’ forward to answerin’ my Five Manly Questions. Without any more delay? I laid em’ on him.
Beau: What annoyin’ celebrity would ya like to smack in the head with a shovel or a heavy kitchen appliance?
Terry: Just every new teen girl singer that comes along. There’s one a week. This week it’s another Somebody Simpson. They all look alike, sound alike, strut alike and there’s just an endless stream of them! They’re like rabbits! I could go through a fully stocked kitchen of artillery smackin’ ’em with appliances. That would be a great video game, by the way.
Terry: Beau, I’ve always liked Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies. Hot mama!!
Beau: [shakin’ my head after that last answer] Oooookay? Name some manly movies that every real man should see if he wants to rev up his testosterone.
Terry: Y’know, I could start naming off my favorite Jet Li movies, but the truth is any movie will get your ‘tones boiling if you watch it while hotwired to a wall socket. Try it. Watch a Meg Ryan movie and every time she starts crying jam a screwdriver into a wall socket. By the end of the movie you’ll be so pissed off you could kick Jet Li’s ass. I’ve never tried this, mind you, but I have it on good authority from Billy Tucci.
Beau: You’re right, Terry, I have heard Billy say he’s done that. Okay, fight question: if you’re gonna take out somebody’s kneecaps what do you use?a ball bat or lead pipe?
Terry: Pipes are for figure skaters. In Texas we strap em to the back of the horse stall, back in the horse and yell “Fire!” If the fight is serious though (like, God forbid, the guy stole your hat or something), they tend to use 18″ shotguns here. We call ’em “Persuaders”. They work pretty good.
Beau: I’ve gotta say, Terry? I like your style, amigo. Okay? name your latest and upcoming manly work in comics and entertainment so my manly readers can steal the money from their mom’s purse to buy it. Name the publisher as well.
Terry: There’s this new book called Strangers In Paradise, from Abstract Studio. It masquerades as a chick book but it’s really the most manly piece of work in all of modern comics. Grown men have been known to faint and suffer heart attacks just reading the legal indicia. Nothing else like it out there, guaran-damn-tee ya.
I thanked Terry for takin’ the time to answer my questions. He said it was his pleasure. He mentioned that he needed to get out of the studio more and burn a little rubber now and then. It was then that the house band was startin’ to set up for the night’s show. They were a mangy lookin’ bunch with cowboy hats. You know, the type that always ake s good music to kick shit with or shitheads.
One of the boys in the band came over to the booth and asked Terry if he would like to set in with the boys and play a little guitar. Terry smiled and said he’d be real glad to. As he got up he threw down another wad of bills from his wallet. Told me that I should see if I could drink all that money away while he and the boys were playin. Like I said before, ya never argue with a man that’s buyin’ the beer.
The pretty cowgirl waitress came over with another round and her phone number as the band started playin’ “LaGrange”. I knew it was gonna be a mighty fine night.
Once again, I advise ya to ramble over to “Texas” Terry’s website and checkout how well he drasws babes. It’s at http://www.strangersinparadise.com. Tell him Beau sent ya.
I ain’t hard to find.
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