Strangers in Paradise Creator Terry Moore Talks Ever: The Way Out

Later this month, Strangers in Paradise creator Terry Moore will release his first original graphic novel, Ever: The Way Out. The book takes place in the same shared universe that Moore's Rachel Rising, Echo, Motor Girl, and Strangers in Paradise occur in, but is the first comic he has made yet that doesn't feature any of the characters from Strangers in Paradise itself. It's hard to explain the series without giving away quite a bit about it, other than to say it's the story of a young woman who finds herself at a spiritual crossroads on the eve of her eighteenth birthday.

In the story, Everly comes face to face with what she thinks might be her destiny -- whether or not she's ready or willing for it. What she will do, and the ramifications it has for her life and the universe, are the questions at the heart of the story.

Moore joined ComicBook.com to talk about the project, which will be in comic shops on November 25.

I know that you said in hindsight it turned out to be kind of a pain. What made you decide to go the graphic novel route for this one?

Because of COVID, I was thinking that the stores... It would be difficult for them to pick, carry and to sell, monthly issues during the 2020 COVID shutdowns. I guess I'm right. And so instead I thought, well, this will be my chance. I'll just hold onto it and put it all together into one graphic novel and just skip the monthly part.

Obviously you've had a reliable and kind of specific way of doing things for a lot of years, but you've said in the past that you've wanted to play with this format a little bit, because so many of your readers buy in paperbacks and hardcovers, rather than in a singles.

Yeah. It's almost like I have three different customer groups and [a Venn diagram with a lot of] crossover. But I thought, I'll just make a trade right off the bat and just see how it goes.

And when you come out of this, this will be a great thing for you to have at conventions.

Yeah, exactly. And, we just skipped over the part where there were a bunch of single issues that people may not have been able to get ahold of or access to during this terrible year.

Do you think doing it as an OGN has made it any easier to get noticed by comic shops and new readers?

I don't know if it's helped me at all. I think that all I did was skip the fun of stand-alone issues. I really like the monthly issue format for comic books and to go straight to a graphic novel or trade paperback and skip all that.

What it means is I did not have any interaction with fans for a year. I just did a story, and then I put it out, like it or leave it. And so I only saw the fans at the end of the year.

So it's different, it's not as friendly. It's a little more aloof and removed. I feel like I went to a mountaintop and made something and then just threw it down.

Is that kind of why you've been so much more visible, I guess on social media?

Yes. Not because I need the attention, but because I need to keep the business going. So if you were imagined, just shutting your business down for a year while you drew a book and nothing happens, that's not possible. So I had to do other things instead of a monthly issue to be a viable business. So we did a couple of live events during the course of the year. And I tried to participate in a couple of Euro initiatives things and opportunities that came along like that. And we started that YouTube channel. And that way we had a weekly program that people could watch and we could interact with fans and do Q and As and stuff like that.

You've done this book, and you're following it up with Serial. When you did Rachel Rising, you talked a lot at the end about how stressful it was to be doing a horror book and how you wanted to get something lighter out of your system. So what made you think that going from 2020 to a horror book is the way to go?

Because I have all this stuff inside me that I have to get out like an exorcism. 2020 filled me full of rage and disappointment and all the things. So I had a lot of dark emotions in 2020, and it was really easy for me to think about Zoe stories as opposed to epic cartoons, which is unusual.

I think one of the things is, there's two sides to art for me. One is escapism, but the other is therapy. So I do work out a lot of issues by writing stories about them. And, and I do find it easier for me to work in terrible times because I go there for escape. When the times are terrible, you don't feel like messing around with a hobby, but if there's something that gives you therapy, you dive into it and it'll work eventually.

Ever leans hard into the mythology that drove pieces of Rachel Rising and Five Years. Was there something kind of freeing, I guess, about doing a story that's that widescreen in scope?

Yes, it is because I have this huge toolkit that I can work with.

So instead of focusing on the End of Days, I wanted to write something about the beginning of days, and as a writer that was fun for me to kind of paint my version. And I had the characters ready and waiting that had more story to tell at that period in time. And it kind of all connects. So, it was just very natural for me to go to work both ends of time, so to speak, the same in the same story.

Is this the first thing that you've ever done that doesn't have a Strangers in Paradise character in it?

Let me think. Maybe...yeah. There's no core character from the Strangers in Paradise group in this one. You really have to get into six degrees of separation to take that out.

What made this kind of the next natural jumping off point, post Five Years? Or was it literally just the energy that you had to get out of yourself? And it wasn't necessarily a creative continuum?

Well, that's really inspired by the character herself Ever, that was the inspiration that drove the engine to make me want to do it all. I just found that the possibility of the character to be so intriguing to me. Ever since I did a time jumping story, I've had in my mind about how a character would be while time hopping.

And I've had this several ideas in my mind that I've just carried around year after year. And then finally, I was thinking about this girl who is perpetually on the verge of 18, and she's been that way a long time. And that's because the day she turns 18, she has to willingly agree to do something that changes everything. So the forces that want this are keeping her on the verge of 18, until they can get her to agree.

How do you do that? How do you accomplish that? That kind of puzzle was what I was playing with in my head. And when I thought it out, I was off to the races. And that's the basis for the story, that's how I got started. And then the details came in afterwards. So that means we're going to do this, and that affects that, the waterfall butterfly effect.

Yeah. And is there a direct, through line between what you're doing here and what you're going to do and with Serial, or is this more or less a Molly & Poo thing, where we're going to see some tendrils, but it's not going to be a "step one, step two?"

Yeah. It's not step, step, step. Serial is a different story on its own. Serial is just Zoe-centric story. That is all new. And it's happening in a new small town with new characters around her.

The other day I was talking to someone from Family Video about the "#SaveTheVideoStore" hashtag and I thought of Video Pat from Strangers in Paradise. Is it a little jarring looking back at that book and thinking, video stores were a thing that were everywhere when Strangers happened, and it was unusual for people to have cell phones when Strangers happened, and such?

Yeah. It's so strange because so many functioning adults, young adults now we're born, like in 2000. Yeah. Not even in the nineties, but in 2000 or just before 9/11 or just after. I was watching The Great British Bake Off last night, and two of the contestants were born after 1999, after 1999. And I thought, "My God, they've their own whole little lives and I had a book out."

So I'm constantly getting reminded of time perspective like that. I guess that's what really makes people start feeling old, is when something comes around and it's their fourth time to see it. I know like some big, huge national drama, and this is like my third or fourth one.

So as opposed to my first one and "What's happening? The world's gone crazy." Now I go, "No, it didn't go crazy those other times." So yeah, it's just weird to see stuff come around now, come and go, come and go.

But you know what? That helped me because when I was writing characters like Cain and Lilith, who were eternal and walking the earth forever, it helped me to kind of get a perspective on them. Instead of them feeling like they're powerful, like they might in a Marvel comic instead, I think that they feel just horrified by the whole prospect, like the entire plan.

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They've seen people come and go like mosquitoes. I mean, so they just, they don't mean anything to them. It's an endless run, to face with people they never get to know because they just come and go so fast and it's just end of humans. And I think it shakes their point of view and how they do things. So when I write somebody like Lilith, I keep that in my mind while I'm writing her, that she's not normal.

I'd argue that, that's my imagination. You get a little thing like, "Oh, you're getting old Terry." And then you take it and make a pageant out of it.