Friday, August 04, 2006

April and Gerald’s Annual Kiss

I think today was the 3rd time April and Gerald have been shown to kiss in the strip. There was their initial kiss back in 2003, then last year at the grade 8 grad and now today. I am sure if I missed one, aprilp_katje will point it out to me. In any case, compared to Mike and Liz’s teenaged makeout sessions in days past, April is pretty prudish in comparison. Of course, I have my running theory that the creative team switched out back in 2002, and one of the manifestations of this was that the entire cast of For Better or For Worse has become a lot less physically affectionate. Thanks to the Houston Chronicle for keeping an archive that goes back to late 2001. From late 2001 through 2002, I saw Candace and Rudy kissing, Liz and Eric kissing, Mike and Dee kissing, Elly and John kissing, and of course my favourite was Dee and Weed kissing on the occasion of Weed finding them their present place to live. Not only that, but the kisses were not the shy, lips only kisses displayed in today’s strip. They were full-fledged embraces. In 2002, when John kissed Elly, he actually dipped her.

But in the last 3 years, Mike kissed Dee once, John and Elly have not kissed, April and Gerald 3 times, Candace and Rudy have not kissed, Liz and Warren did not kiss, Liz and Paul kissed 2 times (once in flashback, once in shadow). The contrast is startling, and I think demonstrates a majour feature of what has gone wrong in the strip. Characters, who are not affectionate, or even awkwardly affectionate, come off as cold fish and unlikable. When I was in high school, I kissed my girlfriend every chance I got. When I was in my young 20s, I kissed my girlfriend every chance I got. Now, I am an old married geezer, I still try to kiss my wife every chance I get. Of course I wish I got as many chances as I did when I was in my young 20s, but that is beside the point. The point is when I see characters who are afraid to touch each other and show affection to each other, and you couple that with a perspective that often comes across as judgmental and cruel to others; then what you have are a lot of unlikable characters.

As for my ARB characters today, I had Howard and also qnjones' Becky visit the last of the Winnipeg Pattersons they had not met, grandma Carrie. The purpose of the snark was to explain why it is that in the monthly letters and in the strip, the only time the Winnipeg Pattersons are mentioned as having given a gift was when Grandpa Will gave some rocks to Elizabeth for her class, and the last time they came to Milborough was when John Patterson had his 50th birthday party (the one with the flamingos), and why they would voluntarily take on a Patterson kid for almost the whole summer break over and over again. The explanation was an expansion of the comment Grandpa Jim made during his birthday party in April, where he talks about how Elly told him not to spoil his grandkids. I also checked the monthly letters for references to birthday or Christmas gifts that came from any grandparents, and last Christmas, April said she got gift certificates from Jim, Iris, Mike and Dee. I was able to turn that into a group gift, for my purposes, even though it is more likely that Dee picked up all the gift certificates.

At this point, I would be tempted to launch the tour in the direction of Elly’s brother Phil and his wife Georgia, but there is no material to snark on-line, except what I remember about Phil from years ago. Not one monthly letter on-line mentions Phil or Georgia, and the only strip in the last 4 years was a Sunday strip where April shows her bunny to aunt Georgia.

Tomorrow’s strip: If there was ever a strip that showed just how far April is from being a girl who likes dressing fashionably, this is it. My guess is that Monday, we will see April boarding / getting off the plane and we are re-introduced to the Winnipeg Pattersons, where April will make some remark demonstrating she is a city girl. It would follow the pattern of last year, where we see April get to Winnipeg and then ignore her until it is time for her to come back. The coming back week will be April saying things like, “Cousin Laura. I never knew veterinary science could be so wonderful. The way you brought those doggies and kitties back to life from the dead was just amazing.” Laura says, “Will you be back next summer?” April says, “Dead doggies and kitties couldn’t stop me.”

Of course, taking no clothes could be a sign that April is no longer a city girl. After all, country girls just wear the same clothes over and over again. And they walk around barefoot. And they have straw hanging out of their mouths. And they don’t have any teeth.

I don’t have any idea what it means. qnjones has suggested in the FOOBiverse's Journal April is pulling Elly's chain, but if she is, then I do not understand why she is not smiling or sticky-out tongue laughing at her mother's antics. She seems to be more amazed that her mother is reacting the way she is. I am confused.


Blogger April Patterson said...

I like to think she's yanking Elly's chain, as clearly she wouldn't go without packing anything! She did go there last year, after all. I think she put off the packing since she knew she can do it pretty fast, and pushing Elly's panic button could be worth a laugh. She does look startled at the end, but maybe she didn't expect Elly to freak out that much?

4:32 AM  
Blogger howard said...

I think you are right. That is the only way it makes any sense. Of course, if Elly is so panicked, I wonder if April has ever packed her own bags.

8:06 AM  
Blogger April Patterson said...

Aha, I found a strip where April says that her father's new car has a "cool design" (May 1). Yuck.

4:38 PM  
Blogger howard said...

Well, she found something nice to say about the car after all. Her praise is still not as effusive as Gerald and Duncan's.

And her opinion about whether or not she should be kissing Gerald in front of Elly, showed what little respect she has for her.

April is still a rebel in my eyes.

5:09 PM  

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