Do you remember those old Hollywood movies where there would be a stream of glamourous girls who would descend stairs that reached to excessive heights, supposedly as a part of a stage production (at least that would be the idea behind the film), but which were too enormous to ever be on any real stage? Well, apparently Lynn Johnston does, as this is the image which ends the final panel of today’s For Better or For Worse
strip, in order to make a pun on the phrase “one step at a time”. It’s a funny image that most of Lynn’s older audience will get.
As for the rest of the images, particularly the very plain second panel head picture of Elly, they show that this strip was extensively drawn by Laura Piché, Lynn Johnston's assistant who supposedly only draws the backgrounds. It is a definitely match to Laura’s background character style of drawing.
In January, Lynn Johnston went away from her every other month new and reprint style to an every other week style; but from the end of February we have had solid new stuff. I wonder if this means that we are headed into a month of reprints again, or if this is the sign that Lynn is going to take us with solid new stuff all the way to September. Considering there are 5 months there, that would be 2 ½ months reprint and 2 ½ months of new material, if the hybrid method were used. That doesn’t seem like enough new material to adequately cover the subject matter left to be covered, so my hope is that there will be much more new stuff in there.
The other possibility that occurs to me, especially from looking at the art over the last month is that it looks like Lynn’s influence on the art has decreased significantly. The physical character of Elly, especially in today’s strip, does not look like Lynn Johnston art in any of the panelsl. That is the case for a lot of the art in this whole engagement sequence. However, there are moments, like the face for Elizabeth as she says, “Payback time” or Elizabeth’s silent full face panel just after she became engaged, that look like Lynn. My impression is that Lynn may be doing what they call “breakdowns” which is just general sketching of where things go on the panel, and then letting Laura Piché finish them out, with the exception of some of those Elizabeth big head panels.
My guess is that by letting Laura take over more and more of the art chores, then this allows Lynn Johnston to continue to get that vacation time she was enjoying so much with the hybrid. My hope is that she will continue this method all the way through September (since she said in a few interviews back in January she was dropping the hybrid); but their continued appearance in the Sunday strips is throwing me off. Laura is getting better at the art and imitating Lynn Johnston’s style. She still has issues with perspective and art basics. For example, the female character in the last panel has a very long body for her head size. Nevertheless, I find that the idea of plot progression with the modern characters and Piché art is far preferable to me than the reprint strips.
Storywise, things are still pure Lynn. I cannot imagine anyone else producing an anti-love story like this one, particularly knowing that with a largely female audience, there are many of them which would prefer something more romantic from Liz, the ingénue of the strip. However, there is a possibility that this may change up a bit. In today’s strip, you see Anthony move to the back seat in wedding planning as he says absolutely nothing and goes to silhouette for two panels. From here on out, my guess is that the wedding is an Elly and Liz show. I certainly hope that is the case.
I remember in my own wedding planning how I discovered that my opinion weighed in behind that of my wife, my wife’s mother, my wife’s father, and my wife’s step-mother. My great moment of independence was when I had to put my foot down and inform my wife’s step-mother that she was not picking my groomsmen for me. As for everything else, there was a social change at the time that said that the groom should be involved in the process, so the ladies would occasionally ask my opinion and then after a few laughs and a pat on the head, would go on with what they wanted to do in the first place. Considering how traditionally Lynn Johnston plays with the writing in this strip, I expect to see a lot of Anthony in silhouette between now and September.