Sunday, August 31, 2008

New-Run Same as the Old Run?

Lynn Johnston has made quite a big deal about her imitation of her old style of art, so that people would find moving in between the reprints and the new-runs less jarring than the style of the modern strip. I had wondered if she would truly imitate the course line work of her old stuff as in this strip, or if we would instead get the same kind of cartoony art she used back in the hybrid to introduce the reprint. The other question would be whether or not we would get hand drawn backgrounds like she did in her early strips, or the flat paneled style of background with many silhouetted shapes of the modern strips. As it turns out, Lynn Johnston is not truly imitating her old style, but doing her cartoony style, and backgrounds are not hand drawn.

As for the joke, it is joke she has used several times before, most recently with little Francie taking the position of the “Pleease” child.

Right off the bat, we have a clear lead-in to what will be the reprint storyline for the Farley the dog adoption. Lynn Johnston has a children’s book coming out about Farley, and she wants Farley back in the strip in preparation for the book. That’s pretty simple. The only real question is that since Lynn has promised September would be all new, how is she going to stretch out the month until the reprints of Farley’s adoption?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Future

Today is the final strip of the modern day For Better or For Worse. We have 2 panels touching on the Anthony and Liz Caine wedding, which I think are there to draw a conclusion for the Sunday-only readers from last week, and also to tell the readers in general that Liz and Anthony did make it to their reception, and not everyone left by the time they got there. The only hint we have about the passage of time is little Robin asleep on Mike’s shoulder.

As we go from the first 2 panels into the rest of the strips the style of the artwork changes into Lynn’s more cartoony style, and the effect is a little jarring. Let’s see what Lynn is predicting.

Elly and John Patterson are looking at a moonlit sky over what may be the deck of a boat, or could be a hotel room balcony overlooking a lake. It’s hard to say, but it is most likely the cruise which Lynn Johnston has often said she will not be taking thanks to her divorce. Lynn has rattled down the usual list of things which Elly has long said she would do once she retired, with the big emphasis on “grandchildren”. Unlike the one strip where Elly was shown doing her retirement activities, I notice that there is no mention of helping out in the school, or fund-raising for the local theater. That could be limited text space.

Grandpa Jim and Iris are shown with Jim’s namesake, who appears to have inherited Anthony’s hair colour. The other important part is that Iris is still with Jim when he dies. This is Grandpa Jim’s 3rd great grandchild, 4th if you count Françoise; but this is the first with the child shown as any homage to Jim. When you think about it, Robin and Meredith seem to be named after no one in particular, and they were rarely shown with Jim. So, it is interesting that Elizabeth, who took great pains to include Jim in her wedding, is also taking great pains to make sure he has a namesake. If you were to draw a conclusion about Elizabeth, who spent much of her life running away from her family, you could say that this is her coming full circle back to her family, and finding things are important to her that never seemed important to her before.

Elizabeth and Anthony

I have to say that the emphasis here does bother me here. Françoise is not mentioned at all, and the idea that Elizabeth would be shown ballroom dancing with Anthony, in a clear imitation of his primary activity with his ex-wife, is a little disturbing. I would much rather have seen the Caines with all their children together and little note about how Françoise felt accepted by Elizabeth and doted on her little brother. As for Anthony’s career plan of running a bed-and-breakfast, I guess Lynn Johnston was going for the idea that Anthony would be interested in an even simpler life than he has working for Gordon Mayes. She must not have read the Beth Cruikshank Anthony Caine biography which talked about how much Anthony enjoyed working with numbers and computers, which are not exactly bed-and-breakfast fare. Of course, the Beth Cruikshank Anthony Caine biography was so long and tedious, it’s not surprising Lynn wouldn’t make it through it.

Michael Patterson is featured without his wife and his kids, which is the standard joke for Michael, bad husband and worse father. There are some confusing aspects to this. For example, it does not say what the film contract is for. Is it for screenplay writing or is it to adapt one of his books to film? My guess is adaptation, with the reference to the number of books published. The other question is exactly what is Michael Patterson doing with Josef Weeder, now that he is a full-time novelist and no longer a journalist? I have always found it funny that Lynn Johnston has continued to inadvertantly hint that Mike and Jo are lovers, and it seems appropriate that in the final strip, she accidentally does it again.

Deanna and the kids. This one is the most distressing to me. For the longest time, I would read a commentary on the Anthony and Thérèse Caine relationship, where the comment was that Lynn Johnston was against women having a career and wanted them to stay home and be a mommy. My opinion was that there was no way this was the case for 2 reasons:

1. Elly Patterson spent years in the early strips trying to find work outside of the home.
2. Deanna Patterson, the pharmacist, who paid most of the bills.

With an indication that Michael Patterson has some success with writing, Deanna decides to go from pharmacist to sewing school teacher. I am not saying that people don’t go from high-paying, stressful jobs to low-paying, less stressful jobs. However, Deanna was ½ of my argument, and her drop from pharmacy to sewing makes it look like Lynn Johnston really does believe that if a woman has a job, it should be one where she can devote a lot of time to her kids, like Liz’s school teaching or Elly’s bookstore or a sewing school (or a cartoonist who works out of her home). The next thing out after the sewing school mention, is Deanna teaches Robin to cook. The daughter does dance and theater, which is a parentally time-intensive choice. It is as if these things are things which they could not do, if their mom were working full time as a pharmacist. If Deanna decided to add a sewing school on the weekends and not drop the pharmacy, I would have been much happier.

As for the Montreal “Just For Laughs” festival, I am not sure about this one. Looking over the website and the list of performers at the festival, I see very little for small children there. I see a lot of comedians that I know use rough language. This is a strange moment of Canadian tourism promotion for For Better or For Worse.

April Patterson. Lynn Johnston appears to be throwing a bone to us snarkers who complained about Elizabeth moving back to Milborough to marry Anthony Caine. April gets to leave and she is not tied to a childhood sweetheart. After all the hinting over the last year that April would eventually get back together with Gerald, I suppose Lynn realized the readers would just assume that she didn’t. As for Calgary, the choice appears to be based strictly on the Calgary Stampede, a huge rodeo show and another Canadian tourism item. This is just plain weird. You have a series coming to and end, and then the finale is filled full of product placement. It would be like if the last strip of Calvin and Hobbes showed them playing outside and then going up to a Schwan's Ice Cream Truck for a snack. Farewell, Calvin and Hobbes. Buy Schwan’s.

The extended families, etc. OK. This is the part that really gets me. I can understand why she doesn’t want to write a huge history for the billions of side characters, but I have been waiting since January for Dixie the dog to reappear and it has not happened. Edgar the dog appeared during the wedding, but Dixie is still gone. This was my last hope to see a little comment about Dixie, to know she was all right; but no. No Dixie. And don’t even get me started on Shiimsa the cat. Not one strip discussing how Shiimsa is going to take the move into Anthony’s house, Françoise’s reaction, Anthony’s reaction, little James Allen’s reaction. Nothing. As for the bunny, I am pretty sure Merrie and Robin have killed her by now. All Lynn had to do was add “and pets” to the extended families section, but she didn’t. If her website can give the stupid things a monthly letter, then they deserve a final strip mention.

As for the future of the Howard Bunt Blog, I plan to address any new-runs Lynn puts out. I might mention the reprints, if they go along with the new-runs, but if they don’t, I expect that will be a day I skip. I went over reprints this last year with hybrid, and it was painful. I really got tired of saying things like “Obviously stolen from Charles Schulz, Cathy Guisewite, Hank Ketchum.” Lynn was young and inexperienced then, and like many young artists she was copying what other cartoonists did instead of developing her own style, which she eventually did. It’s a lot more fun critiquing a cartoonist with 29 years of experience for doing things she should know better than to do.

Lynn has said that September will be all new, and then after that the new-runs and reprints will be 50/50 for the first year. After that, I would be surprised if the amount of new-run material does not drop off. The other possibility is that Lynn will lose so many papers with this new-run stuff, she may change her mind and un-retire. Her retirement plans have changed so many times over the last 5 years, it would almost be out of character for her, if they did not change again.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Conclusion (of the Dailies)

The dailies of For Better or For Worse and essentially the modern storyline end, not with Elly Patterson, but with the long-suffering Iris Richards. Tomorrow, we are supposed to be treated to a Sunday strip showing the long-term future of the modern characters past this point. It will be interesting to see if there are any surprises there.

Lynn Johnston had said she wanted to end her magnum opus covering 29 years with a circle being completed and she does have that, but it is not the circle I expected. Certainly one part of it was obvious, Elizabeth Patterson and Anthony Caine represent the newly-married couple. The surprise was that Iris and Jim Richards represent the completed and fulfilled marital vow of “for better or for worse” passing on their legacy to the younger couple. Iris has been a member of the cast of the strip for a relatively short time, so some of her lines have an odd ring to them. For example, “It’s a promise that should last a lifetime” would have been a closer fit to a couple that had been married longer, like Elly and John Patterson.

As far as representing the meaning of the phrase “for better or for worse” there is none in the strip better than Iris. We saw her monitoring Jim’s diet, dealing with his crankiness, helping him with his increased inability to walk, oblivious to his almost constant lechery, and then taking care of him as he has had not one stroke but 2 plus a heart attack. She did all this with minimal support from anyone else. She exemplifies the phrase more than any other character in the strip. I think she deserves to be the character who gets to say it.

As for Elly and John Patterson, their last appearance is oddly enough a sequence where John says, “That sounds like a nice way to end a story!” and Elly responds, “…It’s certainly a nice way to end today!” Elly and John Patterson have long been the avatars of Lynn and Rod Johnston respectively and the strip revolves around Elly. To not have her in the final strip or even the final 2 strips is unusual.

I can see the reasoning. Lynn Johnston wants to have someone represent the old couple with the successful marriage and that simply is not Elly and John Patterson. As a couple they are barely there. Over the last 27 strips depicting the wedding day, Elly and John have spoken to each other exactly 3 times. And where I would have expected a big, emotional, pre-wedding conversation between Elly and Elizabeth; they spoke exactly once in the whole wedding day sequence when Elly tells Elizabeth that Grandpa Jim is in the hospital. In fact Elly is only in 9 wedding day strips. I had expected Elly to throw herself into the wedding, and there would be this tremendous bonding moment between mother and daughter as the daughter prepares to marry the man her mother has been pushing her to since 2000. Instead, Elly isn’t there 2/3 of the time, and almost doesn’t talk to her daughter at all on her wedding day.

Elly is the avatar for Lynn Johnston, and I am not sure that Lynn Johnston believes in weddings and the sanctity of marriage vows anymore, after she has been cheated on by 2 husbands. It looks like she is willing to let the character who represents her, take a back seat, even in dishing out the final closing title line from the Anglican Church wedding vows. This is a very melancholy and surprising end to this strip.

Lynn’s Final Letter (at least for now)

Here is the link to the letter. I will comment on the parts I find interesting, which is most of it:

A Letter from Lynn about FBorFW

To all my wonderful readers,

A couple of weeks ago I drew and sent the last two weeks of dailies, bringing to a close the main storyline of FBorFW. It sure wasn't easy! I think the drawings were harder to do than the writing, because I'd been thinking about what to say and how to say it for a long time. I had that "running in a dream" feeling, as though I'd never get there, but once the deed was done, I felt strangely comforted; a feeling that I'd done the right thing at the right time.

This is a discouraging statement to make. This means things like “Gordon Mayes and his 6 limousines” or “Elly and Phil making jokes about Grandpa Jim’s heart attack”were things she had thought about for a long time. If this last month of wedding strips was the culmination of a long period of thought, then it is as clear evidence as you can get about what Lynn Johnston is capable of producing.

For the past 7 years or so I was aware that the stories were becoming more complicated, the drawings more controlled and the characters more realistic. Gone was the loose, funny, free-hand line I had started with. As the adventures of the characters became more defined, so did the drawing, until I researched everything, from forklifts to faces, from aircraft to arcades. I was out for accuracy. Every house, every apartment had a floorplan. The furniture and the color schemes had to be consistent- as did the information I gave about the "players", and if I made an error, you would let me know!

Aside from the “faces”, I agree with this wholeheartedly. Lynn Johnston has done a very good job with keeping a lot of those details straight. I can usually figure out where the action is taking place just from looking at the background or the striping on a chesterfield.

Readers catch the minutest of details and I'm always grateful for a correction or a reminder!! One thing I was often asked was to tell more about folks such as Anthony's parents, but there were so many characters...and only one statement a day (less than 30 seconds) to try and tell a story, I just hoped you would make up your own minds as to how these distant players fit in!! With that said, I have now let all of this pass into the mist as the story ends and I return to the beginning.

Surprisingly, there is no mention of Beth Cruikshank’s 60-page biography on Anthony, especially considering she mentions us making up our own minds about Anthony's parents, which is unnecessary with the biography. As before, "30 seconds" is a poor excuse. She’s been plotting this marriage for over 10 years now, and the simple fact of the matter is she has forgotten she has already shown Anthony Caine’s step-mother 2 times before.

She is in Panel 1, lady kissing Anthony on the cheek at his wedding.
She is in Panel 4, lady on the left sitting on the chesterfield at his baby shower.

For Better or For Worse begins again on September the 1st with new material, new art and new enthusiasm! Without the need to visit all of the auxiliary characters, I can concentrate once again on the insular little Patterson household. I have the children all to myself again. I can do spot gags and silly stuff. I can fix what I don't like about my early work as I add and subtract...redraw and just improve everything.

Given the lead-in paragraph, what she is really saying is: I don’t plan to research anything anymore or try to remember obscure characters.

The crazy part is drawing the way I used to draw!! I practised, using the first two books, copying as if I was trying to draw someone else's work, not my own! It's taken some time to simulate the earlier work, but it's coming and because it's a simpler style with less detail in the background, I can comfortably do all the art myself without the need for another illustrator.

I am not sure why it is necessary to say this, but it is inaccurate. I saw her drawing in the video where she talks about this, and it was not the thick-lined old style she used to have. A better way to phrase it would be she plans to draw the characters the way they used to look, i.e. Elly has a small nose again. Kevin Strang is going to do the colouring and grayscaling for her. For some reason, she does not consider this to be a part of the illustration. Go figure. Jackie Levesque (colours and grayscale) and Laura Piché (background and inking) are gone. Laura in particular, used to post to the Howard Bunt Blog, and I am sad to see her go.

This makes the process faster and because I'll be including some of the classics, I'll be able to take some much needed time off!

Translation. I can do as many new strips as I did last year in less time, and so I get even more time off.

I expected to find a return to my old style of drawing a bit stressful, but it's been easy! I also expected to find it hard to rip into the belief that I was a young mom again with two small kids...but this is really fun!!!

Lynn has always liked these kinds of strips. I have noticed, looking through the old strips that April stayed Aypo for a long time, and after she finally became April, there were quite a few strips with Gordon’s family and his young children, before Meredith came into being. I am not surprised she likes it.

I'm so enjoying the loose style, the freedom to play with the younger Pattersons again and the less complicated cast of characters. Mixing the classic and new strips, is both challenging and rewarding as I improve the work I started with. Who gets to do this???

I think Lynn Johnston is the only one. I also think she should enjoy it while it lasts. As near as I can tell, with the Washington Post dropping the printed strip, there will be many other big papers who will follow suit. When I lived in the Dallas area, there was, for a brief time, a radio station that played all Beatles music. I knew it couldn’t last, and it didn’t, but for a time I enjoyed listening to that station, and all the obscure Beatles music being played. I expect this mixture of old and new for Lynn Johnston will be the same way. Either she will decide that continuing with reprints and keeping her vacation time is worth the loss of income, or she will decide she can no longer tolerate the loss of income and change again. If the past 3 years has been any indication, I would bet on her changing again.

I consider it a real privilege to be able to work on the beginning again and I hope you'll enjoy what I do. One way or another you'll let me know - and I look forward to hearing from you.

September. Will it be for better or for worse? Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Courage (or Filling Time)

The dialogue in today’s For Better or For Worse really rambles. In this respect, it has the appearance of real-life dialogue, or at least real-life dialogue by two persons attempting to speak philosophically about life, who only know about life from guests on a talk show. This is the sequence:

Iris talks about watching Jim sleeping. It reminds her of when she watched her babies sleeping.
Elizabeth takes the word “babies” and says she wants one.
Iris takes Elizabeth’s desire for a baby and talks about how she will need to teach the baby about life.
Iris takes her own reference to life and talks about how it takes courage to live life to the full and Grandpa Jim has courage.
Elizabeth takes Grandpa Jim’s courage and adds that he also has Iris.
Iris has no answer for that, probably because she is trying to figure out if Elizabeth just complimented her or insulted her. Either is possible.

This rambling mess is what I would call:

a. 4 panels of reasons why I am glad Iris and Elizabeth don’t talk more often.
b. Lynn Johnston filling space until she can end the strip, because she realized that she did not leave enough strip space to do anything with the wedding reception.
c. Lynn Johnston expressing her own philosophy of life in a comic strip
d. A subtle story telling how it is that Elizabeth Patterson realizes her own mortality looking at her soon-to-be dead grandfather, and comes to the conclusion that she wants to reproduce and thus embrace life, even as her own grandfather is close to embracing death.

Meta Already?

I had expected the Meta-ish strip to be on Sunday based on the interview with Lynn Johnston, but here it is in today’s For Better or For Worse, as John says. “a nice way to end a story” and Elly says, “a nice way to end today.” Obviously John means to end the story he is in, while Elly corrects him to mean the modern storyline, because there will be plenty more new stuff, just set 30 years ago.

This conversation really only works as a look from the outside, because from the inside of the story, you would expect problems at the reception with whether to delay the dinner until Anthony and Liz finally decide to arrive, plus preparations made for dancing and the activities involved with the bride and groom at the reception, and the feelings of the guests as Anthony and Elizabeth delay longer. In this situation in real life, there would a lot of things to deal with, and the mother of the bride would be running around telling everyone what was going on.

I doubt that Lynn Johnston will address any of that. We have gotten to where she wanted to get. Liz is married to Anthony. Grandpa Jim got to see her in Marian’s dress. End of story.

Will Lynn Johnston start in on her predicted future of the characters in tomorrow’s strip? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Anthony Caine’s Biography

This is the link to the full thing, which is not short. I will only comment on the parts I find interesting:

The Story of Anthony Caine

"You ate all my organic flax bread!" Hanneke Caine wheeled from the counter to stare at her husband and son, tears gleaming in her eyes. "I bought it from Illo's Bakery especially for my new diet! It took me ages to find it. How could you?"

You just can’t start any better than this. Anthony’s birth mother Hanneke is a Dutch model, and obsesses over diet. Obviously Anthony gets his looks from his dad.

The early part of the strip deals with young Anthony Caine, math genius, and his 2 parents who alternatively fight or make love in public, like a bad romance novel. Aside from some hilariously-bad fight scenes, the main point is that Anthony Caine is a combination of his 2 parents. He likes math, like his dad; but he is sensitive like his mother.

He couldn't understand why his parents had married, when they were so very different. He did know the story of how they met. Hanneke Van Rijn had been a model, one of a number of international beauties hired for a fashion show in Montreal, when Gavin Caine met her. The tall, quiet man with the Oxford British accent had caught her interest right away. It hadn't bothered her then that he was an accountant, or that he was only at the show because he was performing an audit on one of the designers. His natural reserve merely heightened her interest, made him more worthy a challenge for her to conquer.

As we will see, this romance is a parallel for the story of Anthony and Thérèse later on. Thérèse thinks Anthony is something that he is not, and that is the basis for their romance.

One evening in December that Anthony came home full of music and high spirits from the elementary school Christmas Concert. For the first time, he had been given a small solo part. It had been scary, but he had done OK. Lots of people had praised him afterward.

This is the part we had been given in the preview and the jump from the Math Bee to the elementary school Christmas Concert is jarring. It has the appearance that Beth Cruikshank wrote the preview first and then filled in around it.

He stiffened as Anthony caught his breath. "No. Don't you dare cry for her. You start bawling now, Tony, I swear I'll pitch you out of this house. There's been enough dramatics around here to last me a lifetime."

“Tony” bugged me in the preview. It only appears one other time and also comes from his father. All other times he is “Anthony”, even from his father.

In the weeks that followed, his father never once mentioned his mother. Within days of her departure, every trace of her had vanished from the house. Her clothes and shoes, the remnants of her make-up and expensive scented shampoo in the bathroom, the picture that hung in the hall, even the Christmas presents under the tree with her name on them. It was as though Hanneke Caine had been vaporized from the face of the earth.

This part is a little creepy, especially when you consider this next part.

"I said, stop it!" His father's hands clenched white on the steering wheel. His teeth were clenched, too. He clipped off each word as though he were snipping it with scissors. "I have not seen your mother. She's in the Netherlands. Living with a man who is far richer than I am." He drew in an audible breath that shook a little. "My lawyer dealt with her lawyer. She never came back to Canada. I did ask about - about custody. Counselling. Things like that. She expressed no desire to see either of us again."

She disappears without a trace. The father removes evidence she existed. And she is never seen again. It has all the elements of a mother who has been murdered by the father. Then we bring in Clarice, which seems to be a marriage of convenience, i.e. “I don’t want to work and you need a mother for your boy with the nightmares about how his mother mysteriously disappeared."

The weird thing was, Clarice soon felt more like his mother than his real mother ever had. Everything he told her, she listened to with interest. She attended every concert and school play and came to cheer at his soccer and baseball games. She insisted his Dad relax more on weekends, and the three of them did really fun things like going to the circus or getting gloriously lost in an intricate maze that a farmer had carved out of his corn field outside of town and then buying enormous banana split sundaes afterward to celebrate the triumph of finding their way out.

Clarice has parallels to Elizabeth, at least the ice cream part. That is a clear imitation of Elizabeth’s first date with Anthony, after the Shawna-Marie Verano wedding.

He especially liked his new Uncle Max. His Mom's brother was a round, balding, talkative little man who owned a men's clothing store. We have the tie-in to Anthony’s wedding with Uncle Max. Perhaps Max is the man in the first panel of this strip.

She dropped onto the swing and wiped away her tears. "Oh Anthony, don't look at me like that. It's nothing serious. At least - " A sob shook her again. "It's just that - I'd hoped that I could tell you there would be a new little brother or sister for you soon. But it hasn't happened. Now the doctors are telling me that it probably won't." She leaned back and closed her eyes. "And I want, so much, to have a child of my own. It just doesn't seem fair."Anthony felt like he'd been slugged hard in the gut. "You have me."

Clarice wants a chid and seems to prefer the child she will have to the one she has gotten by marriage, which would probably be another Elizabeth / Anthony parallel, if the strip were to continue. On the plus side, this does mean that Beth Cruikshank was paying attention to an early strip where Anthony said he had a sibling.

This also begins the second theme of “Anthony trying to find a woman for whom he can be worthy. His mom is too good for him. Clarice prefers the baby. High school Liz is always looking at other guys. Thérèse is too good for him. Then finally, we are back to Elizabeth, making it appear that Elizabeth has finally sunk to Anthony’s level.

As he settled into the new school and started to make friends, he became more and more aware of the girl who sat in front of him in English class. Elizabeth Patterson was perky, blonde and smart.

My recollection was that Elizabeth Patterson was an average student, who had to work for her grades. This comparison is probably due to not wanting Elizabeth to look poorly compared to over-achiever Thérèse later on.

Anthony went back to school in January eager for distractions. He found all he needed in his relationship with Elizabeth, which seemed to be repeatedly teetering on the brink of being something real and exciting, then fading into limbo again. It wasn't until February, just before Valentine's Day, that things finally fell suddenly and gloriously into place. He and Elizabeth weren't just friends any more, they were boyfriend and girlfriend! The wonder of it had him floating in a golden haze of happiness.

I am a little disappointed that Beth chose not to retell the whole school courtship saga between Anthony and Elizabeth. There were a lot of little cute stories and it would be fun to get the Anthony perspective.

It couldn't last, of course. He knew from the start that Elizabeth would tire of him. It took just six weeks. Hypersensitive as he was to rejection, he saw it coming every painful inch of the way. For the sake of his dignity, he broke up with her first.

This ends up being the recurring theme for Elizabeth and Anthony in their junior high and high school days and does not work well with this biography. The biography tries to show Anthony as a guy with no friends, but the strip during this point showed that Anthony did have friends and he liked to do things with them, and that girls like Candace Halloran found him attractive, at least temporarily. He was not that pitiful.

Although he spent a lot of time at the Pattersons, Anthony didn't invite Elizabeth to his house in return. Clarice was seeing a psychiatrist, and she and his dad were taking some kind of counselling. They didn't tell him much, but he knew that their marriage was in trouble.

This doesn’t really work with the history. In the monthly letters, Liz talked about having met Anthony’s parents, back when they dated in high school.

During that tumultuous fall and winter, Liz became the fixed centre of Anthony's world, the one person he could count on. Even though he was getting taller and skinnier and more geeky and beaky, despite the humiliation of being hassled by some of the jocks at school as a nerd and a loser, even if he felt like an outsider in his own home, Liz seemed to like him anyway. He came to rely on her so much that it scared him.

This was also pulled out for the preview, where the presumption was it had to do with Anthony’s mom leaving. We really did not see this level of dependence on Liz with Anthony in the strip. Again, trying to make him seem pitiful.

Abigail Susan Caine was born May 9, 1995, hale, hearty and hollering.

That puts her at 13 years old in 2008 and raises a very obvious question about why she is not in the bridal party. This is a definite weakness in the biography, when you consider that Anthony is still in Milborough, why there is not more of a relationship between him and Abby.

There was one completely positive outcome of having a new baby sister. His step-grandparents came to visit. Clarice's mother and father lived on Vancouver Island.

This ends up developing into a serious relationship and is another Elizabeth and Anthony parallel. The step-grandparents ultimately will invest in Gordon Mayes, just like John Patterson does. Note that Hanneke Caine’s parents express no interest in Anthony after the divorce, just as Thérèse’s parents seem to be uninterested in Françoise after the divorce. But step-mom Clarice’s parents do like Anthony, just as Elly and John have taken somewhat of an interest in Françoise.

The incident ended with Candace asking him to go to the Halloween Dance with her. He thought she did it only because she was disconcerted by his silence, but he was quick to accept. Candace was one of the hot girls in school, the kind who did good things for a guy's reputation. Besides, it was a great way to pay Liz back.

The business with Anthony saying he really wanted to be with Candace never really worked in the strip after showing strip after strip of Anthony hanging around Elizabeth, so I approve of this retcon.

"Seems only fair." His father smiled over the top of his newspaper. "If I'm paying you wages, you should be paying me room and board. You've had a free ride long enough." It upset Liz, he knew, when he avoided going out on dates with her. But he just couldn't afford to take her out. It was cheaper hanging out with the guys. Mostly, they checked out cars. It didn't cost anything, was kind of fun even if it was pointless, and it saved Anthony from having to admit the humiliation of his newly impoverished situation.

I did not like this retcon. It seemed perfectly fine that Anthony might like to do with things with the guys instead of Elizabeth. However, the biography has to make it seem like the reason is Anthony can’t afford to date Elizabeth, so he chooses the less expensive guys. If you are going to go with that, then it makes the relationship between Liz and Anthony seem even shallower, if Anthony believed he had to spend money on Liz and couldn’t just hang out with her.

"No problem. We'll train you. Dr. Patterson recommended you as a steady, honest worker and that's good enough for me. When could you start?"

I loved this part. Anthony gets handed a job, and owes Dr. John Patterson for it.

Anthony didn't believe it for a minute, but the praise warmed him for days. He wondered if Dr. P's real motive had been to keep his daughter happy. If so, it worked. Anthony had the money now to take Liz out on real dates, at least once in a while. It did a lot to smooth out the strain that had been building in their relationship.

This part I did find amusing. John and Elly have pushed Elizabeth to Anthony for so long, it’s an interesting perspective that John would actually suggest a job for Anthony so he could accomplish that, even as early as high school. It’s hard to believe these are the same parents in the strip who watched Anthony and Elizabeth like hawks to prevent anything from happening.

It was a kick to see the results of his efforts. Gordon adjusted his inventory on Anthony's suggestions and found his profits increasing while costs held steady. More and more customers mentioned that they had come to Gordon's Garage to check out a car they had seen on the website, or to pick up some specialty part that they wouldn't have known he carried if it hadn't been advertised online.

Now we begin to see that Anthony is pulling his weight with Gordon. Instead of just doing his accounting, he is also managing his website, which is another change from the strip. But Beth is not going to stop with just that. Soon, she will make Gordon appear impotent compared to the mighty Anthony.

Anthony agreed with him. For two wonderful years, Liz had been crazy about him. Warm, teasing, affectionate. No guy ever had a more fantastic or supportive girlfriend. He had been looking forward to being with her at university, exploring adult life together without the restrictions of family around. Then out of the blue - bam. She had dropped the bad news.

It’s right here in the strip and the biography ignores it. This is the beginning of the period where Liz expects her men to travel for her. An hour by plane or 3 CDs by car. The fact is that Anthony never makes the trip and Liz never stays with a man who won’t travel for her.

His roommate Glenn, a high school friend and fellow nerd, unexpectedly emerged from his geek shell in the encouraging atmosphere of university life. In his enthusiasm, Glenn became entangled with three women at once. That made for some interesting moments. And then there were the eccentricities of their landlady.Mrs. Dingle had leased Mike and Weed's former apartment in her house to Anthony, on Mike's recommendation.

I was happy to see Beth Cruikshank found the strip where we see Anthony with his roommate Glenn Dennis moving in with Mrs. Dingle. For some reason, Beth never refers to him as anything but Glenn in this bio. And she also does not show anything with Mrs. Dingle and her impression of Anthony’s engagement to Thérèse, which I frankly, think is a great loss. I would love to have seen a Mrs. Dingle comment on the matter.

He became friends, as well, with a number of his classmates. One of them, a blonde named Jeannette, he dated once or twice. But he found himself constantly comparing her to Liz. She didn't take long to tire of his lukewarm attentions and break it off.

Jeannette is an interesting mention, because in the strip that followed, Anthony tells Liz he hasn’t dated anybody, which is now changed to be a lie.

Rescue came from an unexpected quarter. He had secretly admired Thérèse Arsenault from the first day of classes. Dark-haired, dark-eyed, slim and always perfectly groomed, she had a classic beauty and cool self-confidence that made him feel like his feet and hands were six sizes too large every time he was near her. She was brilliant, too, always top of the class, and intensely competitive in a quiet way.

Arsenault. Can’t help thinking Arse no, but a quick internet search shows it is a real name and common to Quebec. Anthony approaches her to join the dance club, which seems very aggressive for Anthony. However, it is interesting that unlike Elizabeth, Thérèse is portrayed as being academically excellent in university.

Anthony told her. She stared at him, her dark eyes lustrous in the gloom of the car. "Your father is Gavin Caine? Really?" She laughed. "Talk about small worlds! My father knows yours well. It was his idea that I apply to Caine Accounting for a summer job this year. It's one of the best companies in the area, and that's what I want." Her smile warmed. "How nice. You'll be able to put in a good word for me with your dad."

I was quite excited that the little side note about Thérèse working for Anthony’s dad had not been missed. I had hoped Anthony’s dad would have money and there it is. I had hoped we would get an explanation as to why Anthony does not work for his dad, and this biography is all over it.

"I know Roger Arsenault. He's a smart man, and a successful one. There's quite a string of businesses in southern Ontario under the Arsenault banner. And I understand Thérèse is his only child." He smiled. "Quite a catch for you, Anthony! Of course I'll give her a summer job."

As for me, I am in heaven. I had hoped Anthony’s dad would love Thérèse, and he does. Of course, my hope was born in the idea that Anthony’s dad would have not approved of Anthony and Thérèse’s divorce, and that is not touched on at all. Anthony’s dad disappears from the picture after he thinks Anthony has slept with Thérèse.

The idea had caught fire in his mind. As soon as he had the numbers crunched and a business plan roughed out, he ran it by his grandfather, then his father and finally Dr. Patterson. All of them were impressed enough to invest, and agreed to defer any repayment until the cash flow was solid. The city business development coordinator was equally interested. He assured him that Gordon would qualify for business incentive loan programs that would reduce the interest on the rest of the financing.
When he presented the whole package to Gordon and Tracey, their reaction was swift and exultant. "Let's do it!"

The whole expansion idea is now Anthony’s and he is the one who gathers investors, which include his father and his step grandfather, and it all happens in summer of 2001. The timing of that is seriously off with the strips, where Gordon does not expand the property to create Mayes Midtown Motors until after summer, 2004, where Gordon is still seen operating out of Gordon’s Garage.

This narrative really sucks the life out of Gordon Mayes, in order to build up Anthony Caine. No more of this, “Gordon is great, and I am the one with the degree.” Gordon should stop praising John Patterson for his success and kiss up to Anthony.

"Dr. P dropped by this morning." Gordon jammed his hands in his pockets. "He tells me that Liz has moved in with her boyfriend. He and Mrs. P aren't real happy about it."

Gordon Mayes is an ass. This is the kind of thing you say to a girl’s ex-boyfriend? However, this plays with the strip very well. Anthony practically says in the strip he proposed to Thérèse because Liz moved in with Eric and in this biography the same thing is implied. He goes from claiming Thérèse is only his dance partner to a romantic moment in the Quebec village of the ancient Arsenaults. The fun part is the everyone thinks Anthony and Thérèse did something, because they were seen together, and for some reason, when Anthony does the same thing with Liz at New Years’ Eve 2002, he still has not figured out why people were upset with him.

Towards the end of the meal, to his alarm, their attention turned fully to Anthony. "You stayed at the Auberge St-Julien too? It's very popular. I'm surprised you could get a room on such short notice." Mr. Arsenault's smile turned sly. "Or did you share Thérèse's?"Thérèse's head came up sharply.

Mr. Arsenault chuckled. "Oh, don't worry, son. I won't be getting the shotgun out just yet. There are other men we wouldn't want to see getting too cozy with our daughter. But Gavin Caine's boy - " he smiled expansively, "- we know you wouldn't be courting Thérèse unless you were serious."He didn't hear from Thérèse for some time after that mortifying evening and made no effort to contact her. She was good company and a great dance partner, but somehow they had given her parents some alarming ideas about their relationship.

And of course after that romantic moment with Thérèse, the first thing Anthony does is to decide to ignore her. Since he did the same thing with Elizabeth later, we know this is in character for him.

Stunned, Anthony protested. "The Arsenaults got it wrong. Thérèse and I aren't dating. We're just friends."His father's brows lifted. "Oh? Then the manager at the Auberge St-Julien just imagined he saw you out in the garden, stuck together closer than the plaster on the wall? Or perhaps you have a different idea of friendship than we or her parents do?"

This is a very interesting parallel to what happens with Anthony and Elizabeth over and over again. But the next section is the best.

His father shook his head. "She's lovely, bright, and well-to-do. What more do you want? "Liz. He wanted Liz. He had to clench his teeth to keep from shouting it in his father's face. Not that there would have been much point. Liz didn't want him. He was stupid to keep pining after her.

He wants Liz, but in a romantic moment, he’ll take Thérèse.

"I know Thérèse is amazing. But she isn't interested in me." He shoved away from the table. "That night in Quebec - it didn't mean anything. You'll see on Saturday. There's nothing between us."

This brings up our theme. Anthony believes he is not good enough for Thérèse, when his family, Thérèse’s family and Thérèse believe differently. He’s got some serious self-esteem issues when it comes to women.

"I don't know." He had never thought about inheritance. That was years and years away. It was doubtful his father had ever thought in terms of a Caine dynasty, anyway. "Abby is a sharp kid. She could grow up to be CEO material. More likely Dad will sell the company when he retires."

Thérèse laughed and shook her head. "Anthony, you amaze me. You say that as though it doesn't matter to you. Have you no ambition at all?" "Of course." He smiled at her. "I want a career I enjoy, enough income to live comfortably, and a home and family of my own. That's ambitious enough, isn't it?"

Beth hits the nail right on the head here. Anthony Caine does have no ambition. Moreover, it’s even worse in this biography, because at age 21, he comes up with an idea which revolutionizes Gordon Mayes’ business. In the strip, he is just an accountant and then a manager, and Gordon is the business genius. By building Anthony up, Beth makes Anthony seem more like an idiot for not using his talents.

Thérèse sang as she played, her eyes dreamy as she gazed out into the moonlight. Watching her, Anthony felt a surge of happiness so piercing it ached. When she was done, he went to her, rapt and shaken as he took her into his arms.Just like that, they were a couple.

Just like that, Anthony forgets Liz, at least for a little while.

"They haven't always approved of your boyfriends?" Anthony smiled sleepily up at her."No. The last one -."

Lesson number one in dating. Don’t bring up ex-boyfriends.

Anthony hesitated before deciding he owed her the truth. "I know how you feel. There's a girl in my past, too. One I've never quite gotten over. I guess there's a sweet sadness in thinking about lost loves. Maybe a little masochism, too." He grinned at her.Thérèse didn't smile back.

Lesson number two in dating. Don’t ever say you are not over your old girlfriend. No matter how many men your girlfriend says she still likes, you never say that about an old girlfriend.

"Anthony! I'm so sorry. My stupid jealousy! I don't know what came over me. Please forgive me." Her outburst had shaken him, but he was glad to make up again. Thérèse assured him that it would never happen again, and he believed her. It was so out of character for her to lose her habitual cool, he worried that he'd said something really stupid to set her off. He was grateful that she was so sweet and reasonable afterward.

I think Beth was going for a little hypocrisy with Thérèse, because she talks about her old boyfriend and then gets upset when Anthony talks about Liz. However, since we later find out about her father cheating on her mother, the jealousy makes a lot more sense. She doesn’t want a man like her father with the women, but as we know, Anthony will not give her any secure feelings when it comes to Elizabeth.

At the end of the evening, he blurted out his feelings in an incoherent jumble of broken sentences. Thérèse laughed and caught both his hands in hers. "Oh, Anthony. It's sweet that you're so nervous. Of course I'll marry you!"

Anthony sucks at proposing. Just like with Liz he can’t speak coherently and he doesn’t have a ring.

Thérèse seemed a little taken aback when he told her his budget for it, but was tactful about admiring only the smaller, less expensive stones afterward. In the end they found a small, perfect diamond in a lovely sculpted setting at an antique store. Anthony was doubtful it was good enough for Roger Arsenault's daughter, but Thérèse assured him that she loved it.

Anthony is really not thinking now. He knows that Roger Arsenault is thinking of a business merger with him and Thérèse as the linchpin, so a very small engagement ring is an insult, and according to this bio, he knows it, and still goes cheap anyway.

Sometimes he caught her looking at him with an oddly speculative expression. When she snapped at him one day, saying his appearance was childish and he should at least try to look mature, he humbly agreed to her suggestion that he grow a moustache.

The start of Thérèse criticizing Anthony and Beth has framed it with a discussion about Anthony’s cheap engagement ring. The ring is a sign that Anthony really cannot or chooses not to tap into his father’s fortune, even for something as important as an engagement. If I were Thérèse, I would start to question my future husband’s lack of social graces.

Now that the additional land was available for expansion, it seemed worthwhile to crunch some numbers on adding a new car dealership to the garage as well as expanding the used car lot.

Now Anthony is getting credit for having Gordon add a new car dealership, another event which we do not see in the strip until summer, 2004; while this action occurs in December, 2001.

When Liz mentioned that she didn't have New Year's Eve plans, he suggested that she come with him as a friend to the party his father was giving for his business associates. They had a lot to say to one another, but the party was noisy and it was hard to talk. Before midnight came, they slipped away for a long walk together.

This is the famous moveable moustache strip. But in the bio, it now has a moustache in every panel. I wonder if Lynn drew it in, or if Beth had to add it herself. When I first read this strip, the set up was beautiful. Anthony and Liz in front of his dad’s business associates, when his fiancée works for his dad. But Beth one-ups me by putting Thérèse’s dad there too. The best part is that Anthony protests his innocence at the same time he is all over Liz and thinking how he wishes he was with her. One of Anthony’s worst moments.

It was after five when he arrived home, to find his father waiting up for him in a cold rage. He told Anthony with a voice chipped from ice that Roger Arsenault had arrived late at the party, just in time to see Anthony walk out the door with his arm around Liz.
Thérèse was furious."I can't believe you invited Elizabeth to the party. And then to leave with her, in front of all those guests! Were you deliberately trying to humiliate me?"

This is the moment when Thérèse should have broken the engagement.

From her perspective. Anthony Caine asks her to join him in a university dance club. It turns out he is very good and she loves dancing with him. She finds out he comes from a respectable family and takes him to meet her parents. Her parents approve. Everything lines up for Thérèse.

Then Anthony mentions Liz and after protesting that there is nothing between them, takes her on a date where people Thérèse knows will see it. That is flagrant. Even if Anthony truly believes that there was nothing wrong with what he did, then does Thérèse want a man who is that stupid?

"Oh yes, any man as wealthy as my father is always the target of predatory women. Being a man, he couldn't always resist. It was usually the dewy-eyed blondes that were his downfall, too." She glowered at Anthony. "So don't tell me I can't recognize trouble when I see it."

The part of Thérèse’s personality that allows her to continue with Anthony is her belief that if she is vigilant, she can do what her mother did not. Thérèse believes that all men are weak when it comes to women, even her father, whom she respects in all other ways. This becomes the means by which Thérèse develops her jealousy of Elizabeth. Beth Cruikshank hit all the marks with the hints in the strip about this one, all but one.

She has missed out on Liz’s first meeting with Thérèse. In the bio version, their first meeting was Anthony’s wedding. In the strip, Liz talks about (but we do not see) a meeting before the wedding and it is a crucial one; because after that meeting Liz decides to fight back. It is that meeting which causes Liz to think that she wants to go to Thérèse’s wedding and show off in front of her by dancing with Dennis North, a man far more physically attractive and a better dancer than Anthony Caine. Beth also skips over the part where Anthony Caine intentionally made sure Liz was invited to his wedding which, given this bio, we know is the last thing Thérèse would ever do.

The venom in her voice chilled him. In the face of such bitterness, there was nothing to say. "By the way," Thérèse turned away with a cold smile, "I'm exchanging my engagement ring for one I like better. I'm sure you won't object."

This does fall in line with the strip where Anthony talks about paying the bill for the ring.

Despite the occasional rocky moments they had encountered, he was warmed by the knowledge of how much they had in common. She was good for him, gave him a confidence he knew he lacked. He thought he helped her, too, with a warmer and less conditional support than her parents provided. It seemed like a solid foundation on which to build a strong marriage.

I have to agree with this assessment. Aside from conversations about Liz, Thérèse and Anthony come off as very honest with each other, and they do have a lot in common. In many respects, it is a shame Anthony was so obsessed with Liz.

He sometimes worried that Thérèse might be having second thoughts about their engagement. Once, he tried to ask her. She went into a cold fury and accused him of being interested in some other woman. He didn't ask again.

I can just see this one, “Thérèse. Are you having second thoughts about our engagement?” “If you want to break our engagement and chase after some blonde bimbo, then just do it!”

A little puzzled, Anthony glanced at his fiancée. "To back Thérèse, you mean? Of course. And if it's a bright young graduate you want," he grinned, "you could hardly do better. She's definitely the brightest in our class."

When it comes to Mr. Arsenault's offer to take over his business, Anthony Caine pushes the stupidity factor. He knows Arsenault is obsessed with having a man take over his company and he will never accept his daughter. And yet Anthony is pushing Thérèse even though she has told him that she wants her own career.

It hadn't been hard to find ways to fill his time. The day after he graduated, Gordon made him the business manager for Mayes Midland Motors. In the first week of July, the greatly expanded new and used car dealership held its grand opening.

Again, Mayes Midtown Motors did not appear until summer, 2005. In summer, 2003, when Anthony graduated, Gordon was still running around in a mechanics outfit.

Still, she managed to hide her nerves well until Liz and her date came through the receiving line. He did his best to smooth Thérèse's flare of jealous temper, but she was cool to him for the rest of the reception.

Thérèse would never have invited Elizabeth, and yet she shows up.

For the first year of their marriage, they lived in an apartment in London, Ontario. It was a long commute for Anthony to Mayes Motors in Milborough, but Thérèse was insistent they live close to her office so that she could be there as long and often as necessary.

Long commute? This is a ridiculous situation. London is 2 hours 12 minute drive west of Toronto, and Milborough is at least another hour after that to the east. Is she suggesting Anthony commutes over 3 hours every day? This is an error. Just because Thérèse and Anthony went to school in London, doesn’t mean her family lives in London, nor would it make sense for her to seek summer employment with Anthony’s dad all the way over in Milborough, because then she has to commute 3 hours there from her home. Beth wants to show that this is an unreasonable commute, but she takes it so far as to be stupid. If Thérèse wants fancy, she should go for Toronto as a halfway point, and which is much bigger than London. That would be a great compromise, but it raises the spectre of Michael Patterson who forced Deanna to commute to Milborough for her pharmacy job from 2002 – 2007, while he was close enough to work to take a bus.

Her painful bursts of jealousy became more frequent and irrational, as well.Anthony tried to be understanding, but her lack of trust hurt. She was always sorry afterward, and tried to be kinder to him.

Thérèse is starting to lose it, but her father wants her to make babies, so he fires her.

"In other words, you want me to stay home and have babies, too." Thérèse looked pale and miserable as she hunched over her morning coffee. Anthony hesitated. "Well, I would like to have a family someday. But there's no hurry. If you're not ready - ."

Notice that Anthony doesn’t exactly say, “No” to Thérèse’s question. He just says, “Whenever you’re ready.” In the narrative, we have jumped to the pregnancy part and skipped over the strips in January with Elizabeth and Dennise North showing off their dancing in front of Thérèse and Anthony, and then later with Anthony staking out Liz at the bus station. Reluctantly, Thérèse agreed to look at the house. It didn't impress her. Still, she agreed it was a good investment.

Lesson number three is: Don’t move into a house your wife hates, no matter how good the deal is. She will never feel at home there.

Anthony tried to reassure her, but only made her angry. Forgetting that it had been her decision to start a family, she accused him of pressuring her into it.

Her decision? That’s definitely a retcon, which answers one of the biggest accusations of Anthony, that he agrees to take care of the child, if she will give him a baby.

When she walked into Anthony's office at Mayes Motors and blew up in a fury because he and Tracey were sitting together over the year-end review of the accounts, Anthony made a decision he had been considering for some time.

Here is the reference to the strip which talked about Thérèse being jealous of Tracey, who is a big-eyed, blonde.

After the baby is born, if you want to go back to work, you can. I'll take care of our child. It doesn't have to tie you down. Not at all."Thérèse stared at him. "You're not serious. No man with a shred of ambition could say such a thing and mean it."

Ha! This dialogue!

When they took possession of the house in early spring, she was interested enough to help Anthony plan the renovations to the living room and home office, although she shied away from any discussion of the nursery. He painted and furnished the baby's room himself.

Possession in spring. I guess we are holding to the retcon of house first, baby birth second which appeared in the August, 2007 strips. I note there is no mention of the baby-shower, where the baby is passed about as Anthony tells Elly he is going to move into the house in the summer.
Françoise Marie Caine was born early in the morning of March 7, 2005.

Roger Arsenault wasn't as successful at hiding his disappointment."She is a pretty thing. Just like her mother." He gave Thérèse a wink. "Don't worry about it, sweetie. Lots of time yet. I bet the next one will be a boy." He may have meant well, but the remark plunged Thérèse deeper into depression.

He may have meant well?

Although he was on paternity leave, he couldn't afford to quit entirely. Still, no matter what the demands of work or his own needs for sleep and food, his daughter always came first.

Anthony still does not seem to understand this paternity leave thing. However, it does match what was in the strip, with Gordon bringing him work.

"Post-partum depression doesn't usually last long, but since Thérèse was depressed before the birth, she might suffer from it for months. Even years." Their family doctor looked at him sympathetically.

The real answer is that if the post-partum depression is untreated, then it can turn into full-blown depression which could last for the rest of the person’s life. Thank you, Beth Cruikshank, “veterinarian”.

After four months, her apathy vanished with startling suddenness.

4 months means that we are talking July, 2005. So career-minded, not depressed Thérèse only existed for 1 month before the “I have no home” speech.

"I start work at Global Investments on Monday. It's entry level, but they've promised me a promotion in three months if I do well. I've bought myself some new clothes to start with." Her gaze sharpened into challenge. "I assume you have no objection?""No." Anthony winced as he caught a glimpse of the labels on the bags. He was struggling to make ends meet as it was.

Here is a problem. He winces because she has bought expensive clothes for her job, but her job will help make ends meet. Obviously, working at Gordon’s has affected Anthony’s knowledge of proper business attire. And the fun part is that Thérèse got this from her therapist.

"Good." Thérèse relaxed, stretched, and let out a long sigh. "It feels like I'd just woken out of a nightmare. Walking into Global, seeing my new office - it felt like coming back to life again. I cannot wait to get out of this house."

What did I say about the house? You see?

He had hoped that when she came out of her depression, she would be ready to make theirs a real family. Those hopes were dying fast.

A real family. Back to this again. The subtext is that he doesn’t want Thérèse to work, despite his claims otherwise.

He tried to draw her out about her new job, but she brushed off his queries. "There's no point, Anthony. A man who is satisfied working for a gas station and playing Mr. Mom isn't going to understand the financial circles I'm dealing with now."

This is the beginning of a set of sentences where Thérèse essentially trashes her marriage in front of Anthony and blames him for not having any ambition, and also pointing out how he has been bullying and manipulating her. Beth is getting set to justify Anthony’s actions coming up with the Howard Bunt assault and aftermath.

"Poor babies, both of you. If you're wondering why I'm here, Thérèse came by the house." "When? She just left here an hour ago." Anthony watched with a sense of loss as Clarice settled the baby to weary contentment."She must have come straight to our place. She said you might need someone right now. Anthony, why didn't you tell us your marriage was in such trouble?"

And in an instant, the set up with Thérèse is destroyed. She sends Anthony’s mom over to him, showing that she still cares for and is concerned about Anthony. Beth wanted to find a reason for Clarice to take care of the baby without it being Anthony calling Clarice to take care of the baby while he goes over to beg Elizabeth to wait for him, as it was portrayed in the strip.

The other man was bigger and powerfully built, but rage gave Anthony a strength he didn't know he had. He flung the creep to the ground, hammered him into cringing submission and pinned him hard.

Hammered him? Pinned him? Is that what they call ear-tweaking in Milborough and asking for an apology?

As soon as it was out, he was appalled at himself. After what she'd been through, the last thing Liz needed was any more unwanted male attentions. He kept his mouth shut and kicked himself the rest of the way for being such a jerk. When they arrived at the Patterson's home, he apologized with miserable sincerity.

And here is the apology we have been waiting to see for 3 years now. Make us feel good about Anthony, Beth, just as the strip is about to end.

"No, don't." Liz caught his arm. "Anthony, I'm fine, thanks to you. I've never seen anything as brave as the way you tackled Howard. Did you know he's been in the army? He's so much bigger than you, too." She drew in a shaky breath. "I was so afraid you'd be hurt. But you were so fearless and strong and - wonderful."

Army? That’s a retcon. Different from the man protected by his parents who paid for high-prices lawyers to keep him out of trouble.

She laughed suddenly. "Gosh, I sound like one of those eyelash-fluttering damsels in the old movies. I believe your next line is 'Shucks, ma'am, that warn't nothin'." Ha! Exactly where this came from!

Beth reveals exactly where Lynn got the inspiration for the whole Howard Bunt attack. 1950s Westerns. I still can’t believe Lynn wrote that story thinking it would work because it worked in a 1950s Western.

"Anthony, for heavens sake! Even old-fashioned heroes can't keep their feelings bottled up forever. Obviously you're hurting so much, you need to talk. I didn't realize - . Come on. The park is right here. Let's walk a while."

Retcon again. Elizabeth takes Anthony to the park AFTER he dropped her at her house.

They talked a while longer, and parted with a hug that was sad and comforting at the same time.

Then Elizabeth went home and burnt the roast, asked her cat why love was so complicated and told her mother about all these things with almost complete indifference.

Tracey was delighted to see him. "I've been trying to do a new business case analysis, but it's taking me forever. The way this area is growing, Gordon and I think it could use a real restaurant, something with a full dinner menu. We thought it could go on the other side of the coffee shop, where the detailing stalls used to be. What do you think?"

Now the one idea which John had attributed to Anthony has been given to Tracey instead. Doesn’t Gordon get to come up with any ideas for his business?

At Gordon and Tracey's New Year's party, he heard through the grapevine that Liz had a new boyfriend, a policeman in the northern community where she was teaching. The news left him miserable, but not surprised. A woman like her wasn't going to be available forever. If he had ever had a chance with her, he had missed it long ago.

I love that grapevine. And once again we go to the theme that Anthony is not good enough for the woman. Notice Liz is not at this party, so now we see still don’t know where she went New Years Eve 2006, where she got hammered.

He did his best to talk to Thérèse. Now and then he thought there was a glimmer of hope for their marriage. She was rarely home during the long winter months, but seemed to be in a good mood when she was. Sometimes he caught her smiling for no reason at all. When he asked her, though, she never said what she was thinking.

Time for Thérèse cheating is after New Years’ Eve, and we will note that in chronological order:
1. Thérèse says the marriage is going nowhere.
2. Anthony asks Liz to wait for him.
3. Thérèse cheats.

It came as a jolt when he received a summons that fall to testify in the Howard Bunt assault case. He had almost forgotten the trial was coming up.He and Liz met in the courthouse when they went to give their depositions. It should have been an awkward meeting, but they fell into the comfortable rapport of old friends as easily as if they had never had that difficult, emotional conversation in the park.

Whoa! Beth completely skipped over the awkward car test drive situation in July, 2006.
He was surprised and pleased to see Liz at his office one day in the spring. It was even more of a surprise to find out why she had come.

Beth completely skips over the dialogue about how Anthony knew about her and Warren’s date, after she broke up with Paul. And please note, that Anthony, who was never worthy of any woman, is asked by Elizabeth to the wedding. At last Anthony is worthy.

On the morning of the wedding, he was in the middle of shaving when Francie wandered into the bathroom and stood solemnly watching him.
"Daddy. Are you a gwampa?" Surprised, he looked down at her.
"No, just a daddy. Why?"
"Zach says you look like his gwampa, 'cause you have a moustache."

Granthony affirmed! That explains the moustache disappearing. Now how about the new glasses?

Francie was intrigued with Liz at first, then a little jealous. Now his daughter has accepted her happily as her new best friend.

But not as her mother. Beth is not even going to cover the Christmastime meeting with Thérèse.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hitch and Run

The important aspect of today’s For Better or For Worse strip is the belief that, even if your mother and your uncle disagree, a grandchild should try to honour their elder relative by including them in the important days of their lives.

I can certainly relate to this. When I think back to my wedding, one of the things I remember very clearly was the part my 83-year-old grandfather played in the service. He loved drama, particularly Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and he was a retired Southern Baptist minister, and he read a mean scripture. That is to say he emphasized and interpreted every little nook and cranny of the traditional 1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13 (love scripture) read at many weddings to such an extent that the officiating minister’s jaw dropped in astonishment. It was one of the highlights of my life. As for my wife, her invalid grandmother came to her wedding in Texas all the way from New Jersey, and it was the last time she saw her alive. Whenever we think back to our wedding day, these memories come up.

It is a strange turn of events when a Patterson actually does a nice, good and responsible thing. I have gotten so accustomed to a Patterson being self-righteous, self-centred, and self-entitled; it is shocking to see them do anything other than that kind of behaviour. Even though this moment with Grandpa Jim is marred by Grandpa Jim himself, making a joke about the nice thing Liz and Anthony have done, it does not take away from the fact they did it. When Liz thinks back on her wedding day, she will remember that against her mother’s wishes she and Anthony took the time to visit with her grandfather in the hospital, before they went to their reception and before they went on their honeymoon. Grandpa Jim is wrong though. Liz did not “hitch and run”. She “hitched, did not run, but honoured and respected her grandfather instead".

I Remember Grandpa

In a shocking series of events in today’s For Better or For Worse, Elizabeth Patterson actually notices Grandpa Jim is missing, about the time that a normal bride might realize her Grandpa is missing. And to her credit, she misses Iris too. The funny part is that she immediately goes to her mother for the answer about Grandpa Jim’s location, knowing that if secrets are being kept from her, her mother is the one keeping them.

Of course, Liz ruins all that normality by not asking her mother why her grandfather is in the hospital, or expressing surprise by saying something like, "But he looked fine last night at the rehearsal dinner." The next logical step for Liz is visitation, even though she does not know if the man is in a condition to be visited. This tells us that Liz knows that Grandpa Jim will be enough recovered for a visit. We have yet another case where a character knows something that she should not know.

That gives 4 strips left before the end, making it seem pretty unlikely we are going to see much of the reception. I was beginning to think Michael’s speech was a given and so was April’s song; but I am not sure how they can fit those in and visit Grandpa Jim too unless…yes, they are done at the hospital.

Personally, I hope that Lynn doesn’t try to fit in April’s song and Michael’s speech at the hospital, to give Elizabeth and Anthony’s visit a more personal touch. However, if April finds out what is going on, then it would be out-of-character for her, not to insist on coming along. Plus I cannot imagine the strip ending without the whole Patterson family being gathered together one last time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Wedding Kiss

I remember my wedding kiss well. My bride had informed me that the wedding kiss was an important event because you had to kiss passionately enough for the crowd to believe you were in love, while not so passionately as to repulse the crowd. She declared the timing of the kiss was crucial. We had been to a few weddings where the bride and groom gave each other a very quick unromantic smooch, and others where the kiss turned into a makeout session. Since this was important to my bride, I pretty much went along with her on the kiss length.

In today’s For Better or For Worse, I was reminded of that moment in my own wedding, as Elizabeth Patterson goes for a second kiss after uttering the mysterious words, “One more kiss and make a wish.” I was unable to find this wishing as a wedding tradition doing an internet search. I have never heard of such a thing in my personal experience, aside from wishing on shooting stars, or wishing as you blow out a birthday cake. Naturally, I think of Elizabeth presenting herself to Anthony as if she were a birthday cake to be blown out, or a shooting star to be wished upon. It is a disconcerting imagery.

It seems to me the wishing has been added by Lynn Johnston especially to get Anthony Caine to be able to say that all his wishes have come true. (My brain races to Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio. “Now Anthony is a real boy.”) While that is a romantic sentiment, if my wife observed this moment in a wedding, she would wonder why the wedding couples was going for a second kiss and she would also wonder why they were standing around kissing instead of recessing.

Another interesting aspect of this sequence is the position of Elly and John silently looking on at Elizabeth and Anthony in all panels. This is a stark contrast to the Mike and Deanna wedding strips, where Elly was constantly saying things to John throughout.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Who’s Who at the Wedding

In today’s For Better or For Worse, Lynn Johnston has chosen to do a strip which is oftentimes more effective in a movie, where you get to hear a meaningful text and then see images which are supposed to correspond to the words of the text. The advantage the movie has is more space for the text. Comic strips have limits about how much talk they can handle. As for the images, in this case, they are alternatively people in the audience, the Patterson family, and Liz and Anthony. It is quite a contrast to Mike and Deanna’s Sunday wedding strip which showed Mike and Deanna moving through parts of the ceremony as Elly wept and then exclaimed for comic effect about how happy she was.

The text is not particularly meaningful and seems to consist of the wedding officiate first describing the role and responsibility of the audience, and then defining marriage with a series of nouns and generic phrases. This is typical of a good number of wedding talks or sermons I have heard over the years, and I found it to be pretty realistic.

Anon NYC requested no critical comments of today’s strip, and I really don’t have any. I read the strip like I was attending a wedding and basically ignoring the generic stuff the officiate was saying, while I was looking around to see who was there. It is an interesting combination of folks. Excluding the family we already know are there, we have:

Greta, a First Nations friend from Nipissing University, last seen in this strip.

Warren Blackwood, which is a surprise, but not out of line with Anthony’s wedding where he invited Elizabeth to be there. Of course, given the reason why Anthony invited Liz to come to his wedding, it does seem a little suspicious.

Vivian and Gary Crane, Liz’s friends from Mtigwaki.

Lawrence Poirier, once again without his partner Nicholas Browne, who hasn’t been seen since 2003. Possibly Nicholas was left out, because he looks a lot like a balding Anthony Caine.

Ruby Andrews, Candace’s aunt and former landlady to Elizabeth from university. I hope that Liz gets a moment with Aunt Ruby, who was one of my favourite characters.

Dennis North, Liz’s one-time dance partner from 2003 and 2004. I hope Liz gets a moment with him too, although I would prefer to hear from Aunt Ruby.

There were a few genuine surprises. I was quite surprised to find that Gordon Mayes was not the best man. I was pretty confident he was after Gordon was shown driving Anthony to the wedding. What was even more surprising was that there was no appearance by Gordon Mayes at all.

I also was pretty sure that Candace Halloran was going to be the maid of honour, but it appears that Dawn Enjo has that honour.

I also thought we would get an appearance of the Cruikhanks, especially since real-life Beth Cruikshank keeps writing those biography pages for Lynn’s website. And I must confess I was a little disappointed not to get to see Grandma Will and Grandma Carrie. However, this does work out logically. For them to attend, Liz could not have done the last-minute wedding, and expect them to show up, given their distance from the wedding and the difficulties of traveling with a very old Will and Carrie.

I was quite surprised that there was only one picture of Mike and no pictures of Deanna. When you add to that no appearance by wedding photographer Josef Weeder and Carleen Stein, or flower girl dress-maker Mira Sobinski and husband Wilf; I wonder if Lynn Johnston was trying to avoid a comparison of Mike’s wedding with Liz’s wedding by leaving out the majour players in that wedding.

All in all, it was not a bad series of folks and they covered quite a bit of Elizabeth’s life prior to getting married. There were also some pictures I did not recognize, and so if people know them, feel free to let me know.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Finally: A Happy Wedding Strip

Despite Liz’s announcement that the wedding would be on August 23, the wedding ceremony continues on into next week, assuming Lynn Johnston wants to present the For Better or For Worse part of the Anglican vows, which make up the title of the strip, somewhere in the strip’s modern day ending.

For me, today’s strip was the first pleasant one of the wedding day series, with a character admitting his vulnerability and asking for help. Not only that, but the kids appear well-behaved and not rotten for a change. I noticed this trend also with Mike and Deanna’s wedding too. Once the actually ceremony started, and all the preparation was done, then the storyline became much more pleasant with lots of thought balloons about how wonderful things are. The Elizabeth, who was yelling at children and desperately trying to calm down, has been replaced by this happy, friendly, serene woman. It’s an interesting transformation and almost seems to say that while the author detests the preparation necessary for a wedding, she seems to like the ceremony and beauty of it. In that regard, I am in total agreement.

I really have no protest about the story in today’s For Better or For Worse. However, I am disappointed with the art. I went through a long time thinking that the radically differing art styles from one strip to the next had to be the work of different artists, because the art was so inconsistent. Now, I think that the differences in the art are directly related to how much time and effort Lynn Johnston puts into it. In today’s strip, the changing face shape of Elizabeth Patterson in every panel is a real distraction. Also, the squinting Asian eyes of Dawn Enjo, which she never had up until this year, are shockingly consistent. I had hoped that when it came to the final weeks of the modern storyline, especially with the reprints giving her so much extra time, Lynn Johnston might spend more time working on the art for the end, to take her modern day strip out on a high note.

Also, I am desperately trying to ignore John’s hand position in the final panel. I wonder if that’s a little message Lynn is sending to the real-life John Patterson.

Black Comedy

Black Comedy

–noun. comedy that employs morbid, gloomy, grotesque, or calamitous situations in its plot

I think today’s For Better or For Worse has brought me to a new understanding of this strip. Instead of being disturbed at the gloomy and morbid undertones being brought to bear in what has been one of the most anticipated marriages in this strip, I should go with the flow.

In today’s strip, brother and sister Phil Richards and Elly Patterson commiserate on the events of the wedding day. Phil is almost too late for the wedding because he had a little detour with his father in hospital after having a heart attack. We have no details of that event. We don’t know if it happened while Phil and his wife Georgia were visiting with his father, or if they were in the process of getting his father ready to come to the wedding, or if they simply were the first ones informed of his father being taken to the hospital. Nevertheless, Phil tells his sister that he was close to being late, thanks to this interruption.

Elly Patterson inquires about her father’s condition and Phil tells her “He’s going to pull through” which means he is going to survive. So, the good news is, “Dad is not going to die.” Ultimately this leads to Elly stating she wishes her dad could be there, and Phil does the setup line, “He’ll be here in spirit, sis.” Elly leaps on the word “spirit” and makes a joke about how Phil might have been lying about her father pulling through or surviving, if his spirit is going to be there.

So the gist of the joke is a play on the phrase “here in spirit” and how it could mean his ghost is here attending the wedding, if he died.

You can tell Lynn is not used to black comedy, because if you are going to go very dark in your humour, there are many other things which could be said, like:

a. Dad wanted to be here Elly, but his heart wasn’t in it. He had a change of heart.
b. Dad made the ultimate sacrifice to keep Iris away from the wedding.
c. No, Elly. Dad had a stroke, not a heart attack, … a stroke of bad luck.
d. Dad had a choice: Go straight to El, or go straight to hell. Guess which one he chose?
e. How’s dad? Not great, El – but he’s going to pull through. How’s the bride? Not great, Phil – but she’s going to pull through.
f. I wish Dad could be here…He’ll be here in spirit, sis. You know after he had too many spirits, we would usually find him in a park.
g. I wish Dad could be here…He’ll be here in spirit, sis. I understand the musicians are going to play some “soul” music.
h. I wish Dad could be here…He’ll be here in spirit, sis. That’s good. I was feeling out of spirits.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Melancholy Wedding

I predicted in yesterday’s Blog entry that Elizabeth’s “STOP!!” was likely to be a lead-in to the bridal party going by Grandpa Jim’s hospital room so he could see Elizabeth in the Grandma Marian dress. With today’s For Better or For Worse, that ended up not being the case. In fact, Liz’s “STOP!!” really and truly was her yelling at Robin and her step-daughter, Françoise to be quiet. I was stunned that I was wrong, and then I thought about it. I realized that despite everything Lynn Johnston has written about this wedding, I still have this idea in my head that it should be a happy, romantic and meaningful event. After snarking this strip for over 3 years now, you would think I would know better.

Thanks to Elizabeth and Anthony’s wedding, I have taken a look back at the Mike and Deanna wedding strips from 2001, and was surprised at how much unhappiness was represented there. The For Better or For Worse website for Mike and Deanna: A Love Story takes very few of the strips done showing the wedding story and almost all of the positive ones. I forgot, for example, that Deanna and her mother Mira had a giant, screaming match on the day of the wedding over Mira Sobinski’s objective to Lawrence Poirier as best man. I had forgotten that the fighting got so bad that Elly took little April away from the area and had to explain to her why they were fighting. I had forgotten that at every single point in the wedding preparation, there was a battle with Mira over something.

In the back of my mind, I thought that with Elizabeth and Elly Patterson at the helm of a wedding, we would finally see a wedding done right. This would be Lynn Johnston’s grand opportunity to show her readers a good wedding, where the mother-of-the-bride knew her place and supported her daughter. What I seem to have ignored with this idea, is that I had already seen the Anthony and Liz courtship and engagement, and it was as dry and unromantic as an arranged marriage used as a means to bring peace between two warring families. Why would I ever think the marriage would be any different? Why is it that I would have any expectation that a wedding ceremony would turn all this around?

Looking back over the wedding preparation strips, I see cruelty masked with humour. John Patterson pulls a little practical joke today, but it is surrounded by things which make the joke less humourous. Liz is so nervous, Lynn Johnston actually shows her thinking “Don’t be nervous,” like she is about to crack. So, when John pulls his prank on his daughter, there is an element of cruelty there, even though everything ends up all right. Imagine how much less cruel that joke would have been had Elizabeth been shown smiling and laughing with her bridesmaids, or saying something like, “The weather is just perfect. I am so glad we don’t have any rain.” Mind you, if the member of my family carrying the rings pulled a stunt like John did on my wife on her wedding day, she would be livid.

In yesterday’s strip which fooled me, I should have noticed that the other bridesmaids are not talking to each other or Elizabeth. With a happy event, they would all be talking loudly to each other nonstop on the whole trip. Robin and Françoise would not even bother Elizabeth with their “Stousins Cousins Steeba Deeba” stuff. Instead it comes off as if Liz is so nervous, she has to have absolute silence in the limousine, and she shrieks at the kids because of it.

Two days ago, Iris indirectly slammed Uncle Phil with her line to “Carry on as if nothing happened.” 3 days ago, all April could say to her sister on her wedding day is, “We’re rolling.” Casting a pall over the whole wedding is Grandpa Jim’s heart attack and how it is being concealed from the bride. All that stuff adds up into a event that is anything but happy, romantic and meaningful.

Yesterday, I had thought there might be a moment between Elizabeth and Grandpa Jim. Now I think it would be more fitting if there weren’t. The idea that Elizabeth goes through her wedding and never notices Grandpa Jim is not there, seems to me to be more fitting for this melancholy wedding.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Red Herring: Oh So Yummy!

I have been fooled by Elizabeth Patterson’s suddenly-yelled exclamations before. I remember a strip back in May, 2006, where I assumed that the exclamation was directly-related to what came before it (i.e. “Wait!” related to Anthony Caine getting a divorce), when in reality “Wait!” had to do with Liz’s never-before-seen homesickness which would cause her to quit her job and set us up for the wedding we are currently following in this strip.

So, in today’s For Better or For Worse, it is tempting to assume that Elizabeth’s “STOP!!” is related to the incessant, intellectual banter of the children in the car, because that is what comes right before her shriek. I think we are once again being fooled by that mastermind of plotting, Lynn Johnston, and Elizabeth’s motivation for her yell has not been seen. Or has it?

We have been made to believe that Elizabeth does not know of Grandpa Jim’s heart attack because (a) we saw Phil tell Elly not to tell Elizabeth about the heart attack at Jim’s request in order not to ruin Elizabeth’s day and (b) Elizabeth’s unemotional comment 2 days ago how it’s going to be a smooth ride to her wedding, with no show of comfort of any sort by her bridesmaids. However, what could have happened is Elly told Elizabeth anyway, encouraged Elizabeth not to worry about her grandfather, and enjoy her wedding.

I can’t see Elizabeth’s “STOP!!” to mean anything but stopping the limousine to go visit Grandpa Jim. The reason: The dress. Lynn Johnston made such a big deal about that dress, and dragged it out in strip after strip. There is no way, after all that build-up, she is going to have Elizabeth get married without Grandpa Jim seeing her in that dress.

As for whether or not Liz is going to call for a hospital wedding, that is yet to be seen. I could easily see Liz visiting Grandpa Jim, showing him the dress, and THEN leaving him to die while she went off to her wedding. The best part about Elizabeth’s “STOP!!” is it will show that Elizabeth taking charge of one part of her wedding, even if it is the drama queen part.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Test

The question that came up when it was revealed Jim had a heart attack, was how in the world could non-speaking Jim communicate to Phil to tell Elly to not tell Elizabeth anything. In today’s For Better or For Worse, we see the reason, and it is marvelously written.

First of all, we see that Grandpa Jim is completely out-of-it, as you would expect for someone who just had a heart attack; so there is no possible way he passed on that message. Since Lynn Johnston has often played Iris interpreting for Jim, even when he looked like he was asleep; it was easy to guess that this desire to not interrupt the wedding was another of Iris’ interpretations. In today’s strip, you get to see very clearly why.

The first few panels show Iris talking to Phil Richards, Jim’s son, who has not come to visit his father since he had his first stroke. Phil missed out coming after stroke #2 and the only reason he is here now is because of the wedding. Initially Lynn plays this as Iris having a conversation with Phil about Jim. Then it moves to an odd exercise of Phil saying he can’t leave, while Iris finds reasons that Phil can leave and go to the wedding.

Iris then goes so far as to say that Grandpa Jim is going to be fine, he’s going to recover, and the doctors are doing everything they can. At the same time, we see no doctor doing anything of any kind, and no evidence whatsoever of Jim being fine or a potential recovery. While Iris says this, she has grabbed Phil around the arm and is leading him out of the room. It is as if Iris is challenging Phil to believe what she is saying and to deny what he can see with his own eyes.

The tag line in the final panel is the kicker. Iris tells Phil to have a wonderful time and carry on as if nothing happened. There it is…the open condemnation of what Phil has been doing since November, 2006, when he last visited his dad. He has been living his own life and carrying on as if his father did not exist. He has left Iris to handle it all without any help. Iris has verbally stabbed Phil with his own selfishness and inattention to his father.

The best part of this though, is that Phil is not the only one who is receiving this challenge from Iris. Elly and the whole Patterson family have been given permission by Iris to have the wedding without mentioning it to anyone else. She doesn’t want to spoil Elizabeth’s day.

When you consider that Elizabeth is in the Grandma Marian dress and has scheduled her wedding so Grandpa Jim can attend, then Iris’ challenge takes on an added air. Elly must choose what she considers to be more important: Grandpa Jim seeing Liz in the dress and the wedding or Elizabeth getting married in ignorance of her grandfather’s condition. If the wedding is postponed for the sake of Grandpa Jim, if he can recover, then Elizabeth will fulfill one of her major goals. If the wedding is not postponed, then she will be married, but the opportunity will be lost.

In a short sequence of Iris talking to Phil taken in the context of what has already been said to Elly last week, Iris has thrown down the challenge. What is more important: The wedding or the dying grandfather? Just how selfish and self-centred are these people? There is nothing like a wedding to test those limits.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Elly Knows. When will Liz?

With the happy expressions on everyone’s faces in today’s For Better or For Worse, it appears that Lynn Johnston really is going to let the wedding go on, with everyone in attendance except Grandpa Jim and Iris, and also not telling Elizabeth about it in order to keep from spoiling her day. No one is going to say to stop or postpone this wedding because of Grandpa Jim and a little heart attack; and moreover, that’s the way Grandpa Jim wants it. I guess the question now is: How long will it take Elizabeth to notice?

a. She will notice it as soon as she walks down the aisle.
b. She will notice it as she is saying, “I do.”
c. She will notice it as she is kissing the groom.
d. She will notice it as she and Anthony are pronounced "husband and wife".
e. She will notice it at the reception.
f. She will notice it when she throws the bouquet and Iris is there to catch it.
g. She will notice it when Grandpa Jim dies, and she feels a disturbance in the Force.
h. She will notice it when Elly asks her if she plans to attend the funeral.
i. She will never notice it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sunday Universe

The standard line with the Sunday colour strips of For Better or For Worse is that they exist in their own separate universe. I have made jokes in the past about the mismatch in continuity between the dailies and the Sunday strips. For example:

In the Sunday strips, John and Elly Patterson have a good time with each other and go to parties.

In the Sunday strips, Meredith goes to Grandpa Jim and Iris’ apartment to spend time with them.

In the Sunday strips, April has friends who are not members of her band.

In the Sunday strips, Elizabeth has a life outside of her love life.

In the Sunday strips, Elly is an environmentalist.

In the Sunday strips, Elly works out, and is active in the school and the community.

We have never seen those situations in the daily strips. When it comes to Anthony and Elizabeth’s wedding, in the dailies we have see the following situation:

Before the wedding:
a. The kids are at Deanna’s house with Deanna and Mira Sobinski.
b. Elly, John, the bridal party, Carleen Stein and Josef Weeder are at Elly’s house
c. Gordon Mayes and Anthony Caine are in transit somewhere
d. Michael and Lawrence Poirier are at the wedding ceremony location.

Wedding ceremony: An outdoor area with folding chairs.

Reception: The Empire Hotel with Anne Nichols as the catering manager, the table decorations done by Beatrice Alfarero and Moira Kinney, the cake done by Anthony’s mom

In today’s Sunday colour strip, the only way the sequence of events could work is if the wedding ceremony, the place to prepare for the ceremony, and the reception were all in the same place:

Why are we close to the reception area?
a. April carries a message from Annie Nichols to Elly about vegetarian nibbles and dips.
b. Aunt Georgia wants to know where to put the gifts, traditionally brought to the reception.
c. Anthony’s mom wants a picture of the cake, she made for the reception.

Why are we close to the wedding ceremony?
a. The musicians have arrived and Deanna wants to know when they should start.
b. Meredith has her flower basket in hand and wants to know when she gets started.

Why are we preparing for the wedding ceremony?
a. Mira Sobinski has gotten the flower girls dressed but can’t find their baskets.
b. Deanna has found a missing cufflink.
c. Robin wants to know who gets to go in the first limousine.
d. Mira Sobinski asks about a hair brush.
e. John Patterson is still fiddling with his bow tie.

Why do we know that this is a Patterson wedding?
a. Anthony and Elizabeth are nowhere in sight.
b. Elly Patterson is running the show, finding those flower girl baskets, taking those presents from Aunt Georgia, and answering everyone’s questions.
c. John Patterson does wordplay with the word “simple”, standing by the now inert Elly.

What is the real reason for the disconnect between today’s Sunday colour strip and the dailies?
The answer is that the Sunday colour strips are due to the syndicate before the dailies. In order for them to match, Lynn Johnston would have to plot out the dailies before they were due, and make them match the Sunday strips. She did it for Michael and Deanna’s wedding back in 2001, but that was a long time ago and whole different Lynn Johnston. Today's Lynn Johnston is too lazy to plot strips in advance and/or too lazy to remember the details of a Sunday strip she has already done and submitted to the syndicate.