Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bye-Bye Howard, But Wait!!

In today’s For Better or For Worse, the mysterious policeman arrives and actually delivers a credible cliffhanger into the next strip. The last time we had a cliffhanger was when we were trying to find out what Liz’s spirit name was and that was not too much of a cliffhanger, because I really didn’t care. However, this time I was actually interested in the outcome, because I have been primarily posting as Howard, ever since I started doing this business more than a year ago.

I will have to admit, my initial thought was that Liz had miraculously gotten some kind of policeman award for suggesting in her school that Mtigwaki schools did more with less, but then it dawned on me that the visit had to be in reference to Howard. The Howard story last year was easily the most interesting story of For Better or For Worse in the last year and not because it was well-written. It was so poorly written that it managed to offend virtually the entire readership that makes comments in commentaries. And not with a minor offence either. The issue came up again and again on a scale that had not been achieved since Deanna intentionally screwed up her birth control. It was out of this moment, I birthed my version of Howard. However, it was a credit to the extraordinarily poor writing of Lynn Johnston, that the contributors of April’s Real Blog embraced Howard, guilty of assault, over the victim Liz and her rescuer Anthony.

More than a year later, Lynn has come back and is going to retcon the heck out of that moment. I think it is too late to do it. The opportunities were there all year long. She could have shown Liz having an intimate discussion with Paul about why she is so cold to him, because she was afraid of being hurt by a man because of the things Howard, and then Anthony did to her. She could have shown Liz actually getting angry at herself about having let Howard’s attentions go so far without doing anything about it. She could have shown Dr. John Patterson wanting to rip out Howard’s lungs, in fury that his daughter had been assaulted. In other words, there was an opportunity for a moment that would have matched and exceeded the “Lawrence is gay” strips, if she addressed Elizabeth and her family’s reactions as a normal woman and her family would react to being assaulted. It could have been a contender for the best For Better or For Worse strips ever. Instead it may go down as the worst. At this late date, I don’t think any amount of retconning can undo it.

Today in April’s Real Blog, I had my Howard swing through snarking territory, hitting all the monthly letters and visiting a few of the characters who were primary to Howard stories over the last year. I normally try to space those out over the course of a month, but it seemed appropriate to rip them all out in one day. It mades for a nice farewell to the character.

Of course I acted too soon. My hoped for, nay dreamed for Howard trial is going to come true. Lynn loves me after all. And Howard has a last name, that doesn't even begin with a K. How hard is it to change the name of your Blog?


Blogger April Patterson said...

To change your title, I think all you have to do is log in to Blogger, go into "change settings," and put a different title in the title box. Easy! :)

I'm stunned that the Lynnions have apparently decided that the Howard story details that occurred in Liz's letters last fall just didn't happen at all and that, in the strip, Howard's just been out and about and "under surveillance" all this time. Girl(s) please! ;)

4:16 AM  
Blogger howard said...

As I read the monthly letter for Liz from October, the situation makes sense in the letters and in the strip if Howard pleaded not guilty to his charges. Then he would be out on bail waiting for his trial. In the interim, the prosecution is gathering more evidence against him. The subpeona means a trial date has finally been scheduled and Liz is being called to testify.

The area of confusion is that in the letters and in the strip, Liz makes the fairly stupid presumption that Howard would automatically plea guilty, or that the whole trial would take place without her and would all be said and done while she was away in Mtigwaki. However, she does not say in the letter that it actually happened, only what she presumed would happen.

Tough luck for Howard the Jerk; he's out on bail thanks to Mommy and Daddy, but he's got a court date coming up. He should plead guilty, which would be smart on his part and easiest for everyone. Sounds like he'll get just under two years if he does...if not, there will be a trial, he'll be proven guilty anyway, and if he gets more than two years he'll go to one of the bigger penitentiaries. I'm not keen on him being out of jail within two years, but he'll be a registered sex offender when he's done and I'll be able to officially follow his whereabouts.

7:28 AM  

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