“SIP Kids” #2 by Terry Moore continues the adventures of the “Strangers in Paradise” cast, who are now six years old. For the second issue, Moore gives the kids a seasonally-appropriate vacation at a ski resort. The resulting story is strongly reminiscent of “Peanuts,” both in its comedy style and setting. It’s a good winter counterpart to the more summery “SIP Kids” #1.
The ski slopes allow for new situation-based physical comedy, and the extended scene of Freddie’s fall is enough fodder for a series of jokes. It also paves the way for Freddie to emerge as the central character or, at least, a driving force of the larger story by the end of the issue. That’s a surprising twist, since readers might have assumed that the story would focus on Katchoo and Francine based on the opening scene and their central roles in “Strangers in Paradise.”
With one exception, “SIP Kids” #2 is like a sitcom, relying entirely on jokes and character interactions to move the action along. The cartoon humor and the unrealistic set-up of nearly non-existent parental supervision don’t leave much room for character development.
Moore doesn’t dig into any social commentary, which is usually what gives humor some deeper resonance, but there’s a surprising moment of poignancy when Freddie — the butt of most of the jokes — tells his dad that he lost his snowboard. It’s a sudden tonal change to have the reader feel something for Freddie but it manages to work while reminding the reader of Moore’s ability to summon sadness and sympathy as easily as laughter.
For fans of the original “Strangers in Paradise,” the best parts of “SIP Kids” #2 are when the characters are closest to their original incarnations. Francine doesn’t have a lot of depth here, beyond being kind to Freddie because she likes him and also filling the stale role of the food-preoccupied chubby kid. Similarly, the sequence with David feels weak. Just as in the first issue, mini-David is dim and goofy and doesn’t have any openings to show the faith, devotion and drive for redemption that defined the original character. These two characters, so important in the original series, haven’t done anything but rehash stereotypes in “SIP Kids.”
On the flip side, mini-Darcy is the biggest delight to read, probably because she was the least cute character in the original series. It’s an enjoyable incongruity to see the dangerous, debauched Darcy Parker as a child. Moore’s caricature and parody skills face the biggest challenge with her character, but somehow it’s the most successful. Mini-Darcy thinks like adult-Darcy, looks like her and sounds like her, but her kingdom and her threats are hilariously small. Her facial expression when Katchoo threatens her with rebellion is one of the best moments in the comic.
“SIP Kids” is still friendly to new readers, a very smart move on Moore’s part since the series can mostly stand on its own feet. It’s a fun read for all ages, too. If Moore keeps the series going, it’ll be great to see the whole cast develop even further.