Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nightgown Says Sex / No Sex

Seeing today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse, where John complains about Elly’s nightgown immediately reminded of this strip with Michael and Deanna, where Michael expressed a similar concern, i.e. heavy nightgown = no sex. With today’s strip I am not sure if Elly’s comment about being cold means, “We don’t have sex any more” or “You are not as active in your love-making as you once were.” Either way, it's a slam on John Patterson, which is pretty amazing considering he is all hands in Panel 3. Well specifically disembodied hands with a disembodied head. Speaking as a man, the nightgown was never the thing which stopped my efforts. It was always the woman inside the nightgown.

Nevertheless, the comparison between nightgown and sex was not limited to just this instance between John and Elly. In this strip, John spells it out specifically with a joke about sex and shopping and their place in the dictionary. Although John does not think of Elly as sexy in the heavy nightgowns, there are others who are inexplicably disturbed by it. The point is made most clearly in this strip, where the Pattersons seem to have no trouble viewing a naked Elly, but are distressed by seeing her in a nightgown. The comic strip makes a joke of that, but for some reason I found it a little more disturbing than humourous.

Elly, clearly does not have the same problem as you can tell from her attitude in this strip. She can drive all the way to Toronto wearing a nightgown. Of course we don’t know if Michael’s horror over that is due to seeing his mom in a nightgown, or the fact she didn’t bother to put on something else to drive while out in public.

Of course the best nightgown-related strip is this one. As usual, I like it because it shows a genuine affection between the characters and it is cute and funny. A rare moment in For Better or For Worse for a strip published after 2000.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cursing = Comedy

The joke in today’s new-run of For Better or For Worse is that the comedy program Elly is watching uses a lot of comic strip profane dialogue. Considering Elly wasn’t laughing at the program, it raises the question of whether or not it was truly comedy or simply a form of humour using punctuation symbols and not bad puns. Nevertheless, when Elly remoted TV off as Mike entered the room, it gives you the impression that Elly felt the comedy was inappropriate for Mike. Ironically, this comic strip is supposed to be funny, but it hasn’t made me laugh in years.

As for the time when this occurred, Lynn has already established in this strip that in the new-runs, the Patterson family has a remote control. However, this was not the way of the old Pattersons. This strip shows the old style of Patterson television, where John agrees to get cable in 1980.

You can see from this strip that back in 1986, the Pattersons did not have a remote control. The first appearance of the remote control in the strip in occurs in this strip in 1987.

As for the content of the programs, this strip from 1981 shows the first time we see Elly censoring what the kids watch. However the theme of the Pattersons protesting the content of television programs goes way back. In this one, Elly comments about the sick people on TV talk shows. Clearly she doesn’t censor what she watches. And Elly’s censoring of the kids’ watching habits slacks off when she gets older. This strip and this strip and this strip show the kids watching inappropriate content shows. I am sure you can tell from all these links, today’s strip is expressing a theme which is pretty common for this strip over the years.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse is the one originally published March 6, 1981. It is the one which follows chronologically the one printed yesterday. Here we see Elly Patterson being beaten down by her kids for a toy. Mike seems to have the routine down. You beg and beg until Elly says, “We’ll see” which means “Yes” and then you stop begging. Little Lizzie doesn’t have the pattern yet. Once again Elly Patterson demonstrates bad parenting techniques.

The part I find the most interesting about the strip is Mike’s use of the word “Dummy” to insult Lizzie. If you check out these strips, you will see that is a very popular word for Mike to use to describe Lizzie. While “dummy” is not considered to be a very bad word, it is still not a very nice thing to say. And yet nobody ever says to Mike, “Be nice to your sister.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

John and Elly Retcon Their Relationship

Just when I think I have Lynn Johnston’s reprint scheme figured out, today’s reprint in For Better or For Worse jumps back from April, 1981 to March 5, 1981; to the reprint strip just following this reprint strip, which was the last March strip she did just before she jumped to the April parent-teacher conference strips. So maybe she didn’t jump over the March strips because she was confused about which one she reprinted. Maybe she jumped over the March strips because she wanted to keep a school theme going.

The most shocking thing though is that Lynn Johnston would choose to reprint this strip, with John and Elly talking about how well they talk to each other. Considering the general theme of the reprints and new-runs has been to paint John Patterson in the worst possible light, this reprint is not in keeping with the rest of Lynn’s reprint choices.

As for the strip itself, it runs to the category I would call, “What kind of conversation would John and Elly have, if John were actually another Elly?” I have never had this kind of conversation with my wife. What self-respecting man would use the words, “honest” and “feelings” in a sentence? It goes against the man code. It’s against all the man rules. Do you lead a dull life, John? No, but certainly you lead a life where you have clearly gotten in touch with your feminine side. Your only chance for redemption, is if you think that by talking this way, you might get some.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Numbers and Printing and Listening. Oh my!

Today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse is the last strip in this sequence of the parent-teacher conference and the one to which I can relate the most. My Asperger syndrome boy has had this problem forever. Conversations, especially lectures from parents, send his mind into a whole different place. If something is not interesting to him, his mind leaves the room and wanders about on vacation. Unlike other kids who might be able to force themselves to concentrate on things they are not interested in, my son finds that to be very difficult. My catchphrase I use with my wife when talking about my son is, “I have to tell him something 3 times for him to hear it one time.” And yes, my son has had his hearing tested to make sure those ears work, in case you were interested.

The oddest part of today's strip is Panel 3, where it looks like Elly is holding Mike’s jaw to make sure he is looking at her. I would never do that when delivering a lecture, because then the kid’s mind goes to, “Why is she holding my jaw?” and not on what she is saying. Even though the joke of the strip is Mike’s response, “Huh?” to indicate he was not listening, that reaction seems like a good response to that jaw-lifting motion to me. My favourite strip of this "ignoring the lecture" sort is this one.

Elly mentions numbers and printing are comments from Miss Campbell. We didn’t see any numbers in yesterday’s strip, but we did see one example of printing. I guess the giant A was supposed to be an example of “help with printing.” My son had a great deal of trouble learning to write and was in physical therapy for years in order for him to get the coordination to hold a pencil to paper and write without snapping the pencil lead. Thankfully he can do it now. However, Mike’s work with the giant A doesn’t look like a printing problem. It looks more like a problem with spatial recognition.

Elly does not bring up the non-linear thinker thing. The implication from her lecture to Mike is that all those areas where Michael’s work did not conform to the other students were the result of “not listening.” Since we did not see Miss Campbell talk about not listening, we don’t know if this is something she said, or if it is Elly’s interpretation of Michael’s work. She may be thinking, “My son is not going to intentionally do something different; therefore he must not have paid attention to the instructions.” However, with the new-run Miss Campbell, who seems to be obsessed with paying attention, that would be exactly what she said. After all, the new-run Miss Campbell is the teacher who tells the parents to pay attention, who calls down Mike for writing M while she is talking, and who does a board presentation on how to put together a cut-out snowman. She is all about being listened to.

I am in great anticipation of tomorrow’s strip. Will it be new-runs to fill out the week? Will Lynn Johnston go to the next strip in the sequence -- a 13-strip epic which starts with a broken can opener? Will Lynn Johnston jump back to March, 1981 and get some of the original strips she has not reprinted yet? My guess is that we will probably see some new-runs. In Elly’s Coffee Talk, Lynn Johnston mentioned “Some new stuff is on the way”, and it would be appropriate to do that now, before she launched into a long reprint storyline. My new theory is that March 1 will be the starting point for the straight reprints. Usually Lynn's contracts with her syndicate ran starting from September 1, and March 1 is the 6-month point from that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Does Non-Linear Thinker Mean?

What Does Non-Linear Thinker Mean?

That is the question asked in today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse. In the background, the joke is illustrated by comparing little Michael Patterson’s work to his fellow students.

1. Michael has created a snake for the side of the wall instead of the cats drawn by his fellow students.
2. Michael has drawn a dead bird and has a piece of his drawing torn off, unlike the standing birds of his fellow students.
3. Michael has written the alphabet on a sheet of paper with a giant “A” and then the remaining letters at smaller sizes, unlike his fellow students who wrote all the letters the same size.
4. Michael has a done a sculpture which we know from this strip is a giant monster head with a mega-wart on the side, and it is not really that much unlike his fellow students’ sculptures.

From this, I could draw the conclusion that:

a. Michael intentionally drew a snake in order to defy Miss Campbell.
b. Michael drew a bird, but drew a dead one to gross out the other students which it did, leading to the torn page in an altercation.
c. Michael’s spatial skill for writing letters leaves something to be desired.
d. Michael likes to make gross sculpture.

But is this really non-linear thinking? This website defines it as:

Non-Linear Thinking (NLT) is perhaps a complex description of what is intended to be a “simple” thought process to help identify unconventional BUT PRACTICAL solutions to seemingly complex problems that remain a dilemma.

Non-Linear thinking however is not intended to be intellectually revolutionary, as is lateral thinking because it does not have the intent or the capability to formalize its concept as a teaching. It is positioned merely as a holistic resource available FOR every decision maker to use, wherever complexity is perceived.

This website expands on that idea with an example:

"Wojtyla-the-philosopher refined his distinctively phenomenological way of doing philosophy in [his] doctoral seminar. Many philosophers think in a linear way: they state a problem, examine a variety of possible solutions, and then, through a step-by-step process of logic, reach and state a conclusion. Wojtyla did not (and in fact does not) think linearly. His method was circular, but in the manner of walking down a spiral staircase, not going round-and-round a closed circle. He, too, would begin by identifying a problem: for example, what constitutes a just act? Then he would walk around the problem, examining it from different angles and perspectives. When he had gotten back to the starting point, he and his students would know a little more, so they would start walking around the problem again, reexamining it from this angle or that, but now at a deeper level of analysis and reflection. This continued through any number of perambulations, never forcing a conclusion before the question had been exhaustively examined from every possible point of view.

Given this example, Michael could be a non-linear thinker. Let's look at the examples:

Cat vs. Snake. How would Michael come to the conclusion that a snake was the answer? Without knowing the assignment, we have to presume that Miss Campbell did not say, "Draw a cat." That would be too straight-forward. I would think she said something like this: “Draw a picture of an animal that helps kill mice around your house.” Then Miss Campbell drew a cat as an example and the other kids followed her lead. Michael, on the other hand, may think that he doesn’t have a cat around the house to kill mice, since he has Farley the dog. However, he may be aware of snakes he has seen in his yard, and “draws” a different conclusion.

The birds. Miss Campbell said, “You know birds fly. Can you draw a bird doing something that’s not flying?”

The alphabet. Miss Campbell said, “Put the alphabet in order on the page and make sure that the letter A is the first letter.”

The sculpture. Miss Campbell said, “Make something you think is really cool.”

I think Miss Campbell may be right. Young Michael Patterson could very well be a non-linear thinker. Unfortunately, Miss Campbell may also think that is a bad thing. I, on the other hand, have an entirely different opinion.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Competent, Sensitive, and Clean-shaven

I have no way to relate to today's reprint of For Better or For Worse. Thanks to my son's Asperger's Syndrome, we see most of the teachers in my son's school on a very regular basis. By the time the parent-teacher conference comes around, it's not really a special event. He is in 9th Grade now, and it has been that way ever since he was diagnosed back when he was 4 years old. I can't imagine worrying about appearing competent, sensitive, and clean-shaven with my son's teachers. Most of what I and my wife end up doing is more a case of education. The old style teacher is used to bad behaviour = poor student, where firm discipline solves the problem. With my son, it simply is not the case. They have not been trained to and don't know how to deal with him. Many of the teachers (and the principals of the school) have had to be reminded that the American Disabilities Act entitles my son to an education, which means he can't spend every day being sent to the principal's office.

Nevertheless, I recognize the "intimidation by teacher" style of strips have done the joke that the parents regress or try to impress the teacher for quite some time now. Personally, I like the way the comic strip Rose is Rose does it, where the parents turn into child versions of themselves next during parent-teacher conferences. Back in September, Lynn Johnston did her version of Elly's intimidation during Michael's introduction to school as a new-run and covered some of the same ground. If Lynn decides to add any new-runs this week, I wouldn't be surprised if she goes this same route. Lynn has been doing imitation of modern family comic strips lately, in an effort to find ideas for new-runs.

The more astounding thing about the strip is that supposedly Michael's misbehaviour is based on Lynn's own son's misbehaviour. You would think she could make this storyline seem a little bit more true-to-life. Ultimately we are going to find out that Miss Campbell really does not like having Michael in her class, and Michael is under the impression Miss Campbell thinks of him as "the baddest kid in class." That's pretty damning evidence, even though it is presented in a humourous fashion. If this is true, then I would think Elly and John would have been called in for a conference way before this time and not wait all the way until April of the school year. Nevertheless, what we are going to get is the non-linear thinker idea; and that may have been the way Lynn thought about her own son's misbehaviour in school. "He doesn't have a behaviour problem. He is just a non-linear thinker."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Brenda vs. Charlene

Today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse comes from Wednesday, April 1, 1981. I had wondered if the strip from Saturday mentioning Brenda would be lead-in to this strip and it is. I consider this to be confirmation that Lynn Johnston has decided not to reprint any more of the March, 1981 strips, thus eliminating any difficulty with strips she had reprinted from March, 1981 back in 2009. It also appears that Lynn Johnston has no plans to draw enough new-runs to synchronize the 1981 and 2010 strips by month, in order to avoid headaches with holiday strips landing on the wrong dates when she goes to straight reprints. For all I know, Lynn might have the strip in straight reprints right now. Without any official announcement from Lynn, the only way to tell for certain is by the appearance (or lack of an appearance) of a new-run strip, like the number of days since the last new-run as an indicator. By the way, that number would 1 for today.

As for today’s strip, little Michael Patterson gets on his knees and begs his mom not to use Brenda as a babysitter. Drama queen. Apparently one main criterion for Mike to enjoy a babysitter is the lack of a strict bedtime. Now my kids were a little different. They preferred the babysitters who would play with them. The fight over a strict bedtime was a battle they reserved for their parents only. Anyone else could effortlessly get my kids to bed on time; but with us they fought it tooth and nail. Even once you got them to bed, if they woke up in the middle of the night for anything, they were down the hall in our bedroom wanting to sleep with mommy and daddy. My daughter, being a little petite girl, found she could slip into our bed without even waking us up. Sometimes it was a shock when I woke up to see who was in bed with me.

The parent-teacher conference strips were originally published April 1 – 4, 1981. That leaves 2 more days this week to fill. I hope Lynn does a few new-runs on Miss Campbell, because she has done so well with the new-runs she has already done with Miss Campbell, to make her out as a much worse teacher than she appeared in the original strips. Lynn already skipped over the strip originally printed before this one which makes the Grade 1 teachers look good. I think she has it out for Miss Campbell.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Perfect World

Wow! Today’s new-run of For Better or For Worse is about as bad as it gets for Lynn Johnston. The artwork shows almost the least amount of effort Lynn Johnston can put into a comic strip. The entire thing consists of panel after panel of a badly-drawn John Patterson expounding on the weather. The punch line is one Lynn Johnston has used many times, and which makes no sense, unless you consider the news to be always bad.

Do you listen to the news today? No, why? Canada got another gold medal in the Winter Olympics. Well, I’m glad all I have to worry about is the weather.

To put things in perspective here and here and here are other strips Lynn Johnston did on the virtually the same theme, all of which are an order of magnitude better than the slapped-together mess she did for today. In a perfect world, Lynn Johnston would never do a strip this bad again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Welcome Brenda

Today’s new-run of For Better or For Worse confirmed what I suspected yesterday. Yesterday’s new-run set up the “Mike is a non-linear thinker” strip. The question I had yesterday was, “How far in advance is this being setup?” With today’s strip we get that answer. The mention of Brenda makes this strip clearly a lead-in to the first strip of the Parent-Teacher conference sequence of strips originally published during the first week of April, 1981. How do I know this? Brenda, the baby-sitter was never mentioned again according to the Comic Strip Catalog search mechanisms. It’s too bad we never got to meet Brenda; because she sounds a lot like Rosalyn, the babysitter from Calvin & Hobbes. In nearly all the "Rosalyn stories", Rosalyn is shown demanding advance payment and raises in wage from Calvin's parents, supposedly because she needs the extra money to pay for college or for the hard work she puts into to control Calvin. Lynn Johnston seems to lifting Rosalyn for Brenda with today's strip. Of course, the phrase I know is "hazard pay" and not "danger pay."

The Parent-Teacher conference sequence occurred after Lawrence got his cast removed in mid-March, so it appears that yesterday’s strip showing Lawrence and no crutches was not a fluke. Congratulations Lawrence. It’s a miracle. Your leg is healed.

More importantly, by jumping to early April, 1981 for reprints; Lynn Johnston has officially passed the point where she had reprinted daily strips before – that being mid to late March, 1981. In other words, she can go to straight reprints any time now, and no longer have to worry about strips she had already reprinted from the dailies. The Sunday strips are a different matter. The only thing which could stop Lynn from going to straight reprints is the fact that February 20, 2010 is not synchronized with early April, 1981. If she goes to straight reprints now, she is going to run into trouble on the holiday times.

Of course the other question is whether or not Lynn Johnston will actually go through it and go to straight reprints. For example, today’s strip is unnecessary. Lynn could have gone straight to the Brenda strip reprint without this new-run. The fact that Lynn Johnston didn’t do that tells us that she might not be quite ready for straight reprints. She could be reconsidering her plans. For those of us who have watched Lynn Johnston's retirement plans over the years, it would be more in character for her to change her plans than to actually go through with them.

The other possibility is that Lynn will do new-runs until the first week of April and then synchronize the strips. However, considering Lynn’s usual attention to detail, I would actually be surprised if Lynn even knew there would be a problem with seasonal synchronization.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Non-linear Thinker or The Beginning of the End

The non-linear thinker strip was originally published on April 3, 1981, a date which leaps in time over all the previously-reprinted daily strips originally published from mid to late March, 1981. I have long considered the moment when Lynn Johnston reprinted the first strip chronologically after those strips to be the moment where Lynn Johnston could move to straight reprints.

The idea that Mike is a non-linear thinker is clearly presented in this strip. Miss Campbell cannot make it more obvious what she wants and explains it very thoroughly to the readers. She's seems so pedantic, I have to admit if I were in her Grade 1 class, I would be thinking about different ways of doing the snowman for no other reason than to thwart Miss Campbell. Drawing the shapes making the cut-out snowman on the board? Honestly!

As further proof we are headed to the non-linear thinker strip, the outfit Miss Campbell wears in that strip is identical to the one she is wearing in today’s new-run of For Better or For Worse. More importantly, we see Lawrence in today’s strip and you will note that there are no crutches with him under those arms. There are some perfectly fine strips involving Lawrence and his broken leg from March, 1981 which now fall into the category of “cannot reprint.”

Can it be that Lynn Johnston is getting ready to leap past all those daily strips to April, 1981? Are we on the verge of going to straight reprints? Will we not get to see the one and only strip featuring the lisping Deanna Sobinski? Will we not get to see the “Egg breath” strip?

My hope is that this is just one of those situations where Lynn is setting up a joke to come more than a month in advance. We might have a whole series of situations where Miss Campbell explains exactly what to do, and Michael completely ignores it. As for the situation, does Miss Campbell really need to explain all the parts of and how to put together a cut-out snow man? Are her students really that stupid? Is Miss Campbell really that terrible a teacher?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mental Notes

Today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse jumps back 1 day in the daily reprint cycle from the reprint published yesterday. Yesterday’s reprint was originally published on
March 4, 1981. Today’s reprint was originally published on March 3, 1981. As it turns out the only strip skipped at the end of the “Connie goes to Montral” sequence was the March 2 strip, which has Connie thanking Elly.

Today’s strip makes a joke about John making mental notes because he can’t read his written ones. In other words, it’s a variation of the old “doctors must have terrible handwriting” joke, which is surpringly not used again in the strip that I can tell.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

“Special” Friend

Today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse jumps 2 days in the daily reprint cycle from the reprint published yesterday. Yesterday’s reprint was originally published on
February 28, 1981. Today’s reprint was originally published on March 4, 1981. We skipped this strip, showing Connie and Lawrence’s departure; and we skipped this strip showing John making mental notes. I can only speculate why they were excluded, which I shall.

The March 2 strip has a joke which is essentially Connie thanks Elly a lot and Michael makes a comment on how she thanked Elly enough. Aside from not being funny, I can’t see modern Elly ever turning down a compliment about anything.

The March 3 strip makes a joke about John making mental notes because he can’t read his written ones. In other words, it’s a variation of the old “doctors must have terrible handwriting” joke. More importantly though, it shows John actively supporting his family and this we simply cannot have in the new-run version of the universe.

I think the joke in today’s reprint is supposed to fall into the “Kids Say the Darnedest Things” category; but it doesn’t quite pull that off. Michael talks about being Lawrence’s “special friend” and how he thought things like broken legs only happened to people you don’t know. It’s hard to say if the point is:

a. Michael is a selfish kid who doesn’t want to have to help out Lawrence and wishes it was some other unknown kid with the broken leg.
b. This is the first moment Michael begins to think of himself as a “special friend” culminating in his similar, not-just-friends relationship with Josef Weeder years later.
c. Michael has not known anyone else who got injured before, but he has heard about them.
d. Michael enjoys posing unusual questions to his mom.

The only correction I can see today is in the print of Panel 3. It appears that “Howcome” was turned into “How come”.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Everything

For those of us who liked the long dormant idea that Connie and Elly might have a more-than-friendly relationship comes this reprint of For Better or For Worse. Connie strips off the outer coat, and the neckerchief and gives Elly a big smile; which you will note, all of which she seemed to be unable to do for Phil, the man she was supposedly interested in. Then she says, “New clothes, new hair, new everything!” Looking at Connie’s figure compared to this strip, it appears that “new everything” means “boob job”. Elly responds with “You look like a million bucks” as she offers her coffee. The combination of those two things (a compliment and coffee) from Elly Patterson is practically like an invitation to intimacy. Maybe this is what Connie expected Phil to do when she “threw herself” at him.

This strip has a few corrections in it. The misspelling of "terriffic" is corrected and Lynn drew in Connie's hand holding the previously self-supporting coffee cup. Personally, I kind of liked the "terriffic" because it supported the impression I get that Connie is high in the last panel, judging from her glazed-over facial expression.

The part I find the most amusing about this is that Elly is the last one to notice Connie; which means Elly did not let Connie in. Judging from this strip, Connie just walked in. It’s not unlike when Phil just walked in the house. I guess Elly doesn’t lock her front door. Of course Elly does say “Holy Cow” and “You look like a million bucks” when she sees Connie. Perhaps this is some kind of cloven hoofed animal reference.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pretty Awful to Awful Pretty

Today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse is an interesting case study in the relationship between Connie and Lawrence. After flaunting her new hair style at Lawrence and thus showing him that her hair was more important than he was, Connie Poirier gives Lawrence an apology of sorts. “I’m sorry I was away when you were hurt!” Notice it isn’t “Lawrence, I’m sorry I didn’t rush home like I said I would, after you got hurt.” Connie addresses only the generic “I’m so sorry I was away when you were hurt.” It is an apology for something which Connie could not do anything about, as opposed to the thing which she could do something about. It is an apology specifically intended for denial, like Lawrence saying, “Oh mother. Don’t apologize. There was nothing you could about it being so far away.”

That’s not how Lawrence responds though. Not only does Lawrence give Connie complete forgiveness, but he compliments her appearance. Lawrence is pretty clever about this. He has indirectly forgiven Connie not only for the thing which needed no forgiveness (Connie being away), but for the actual slight, i.e. not coming home immediately and spending time getting a makeover instead.

Lawrence reverses the roles of Connie’s words. Pretty awful becomes awful pretty. Symbolically Lawrence also reverses the roles between him and Connie. He is treating her as if she was the child and he was the parent.

However, it is not quite as simple as that, for a parent has affection for a child. In the final panel, Lawrence words tell a different story. “Boy. Some grown-ups need a lot of understanding!” Lawrence’s thoughts are practically clinical. He doesn’t even refer to his mom as “Mom”, but “some grown-ups”. Moreover, it makes Lawrence’s actions appear not to be genuine, but a calculated means to give Connie the things he has deduced she needs.

Lawrence is no longer thinking of his mother in terms of a “mother who loves me”, but in terms of “a grown-up who needs understanding.” It is as if whatever affection he may have had for his mother is overshadowed by her overwhelming need. Honestly, I can’t blame him. He’s dropped off at the Pattersons by a woman who has shown fully that getting a man or getting a makeover is more important to her than responding to his own needs.

The astounding part is that 6-year-old boy would come to this conclusion. What must his home life be life for Lawrence to be forced to mature so fast? I have heard of children who had no childhood because of desperate situations with their parents, who develop extraordinary defensive techniques in order to survive. This strip shows us that Lawrence Poirier is one of these children.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

And Another Thing

The joke for today’s new-run of For Better or For Worse depends on young Michael Patterson at age 6, having the strength and the quality of scissors necessary to cut through carpet. Professional adults use carpet shears. My kids would just pick the paper off the floor to cut it, because cutting against the carpet would be too hard for them. Maybe this is really a testimony to how incredibly cheap the Patterson carpet is that a 6-year-old can cut through it.

And another thing. My kids don’t like to draw or colour on paper sitting on carpet. The surface is not firm enough for them to put the pressure on the paper and draw proper lines.

And another thing. Given the startling ability of Michael to draw and cut a near-perfect heart, and then to colour it perfectly within the lines, why would Michael and Elizabeth then start marking randomly on the Valentine in Panel 5?

And another thing. Does the position of Farley in the last panel mean that he is somehow going to get blamed for all this? He’s not anywhere else in the whole story but the last panel.

And another thing. Would Elly Patterson, after seeing her carpet cut up, need to support her body by holding her knee and then putting another hand on her head? Does the sight of this carpet disaster make her faint?

And another thing. Is it possible for kids in this strip to create something without also destroying something? My kids make cute things all the time, and never once cut a shape in the carpet.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Crouching Connie, Hidden Connie

I am going to examine this reprint of For Better or For Worse, panel by panel.

Panel 1: Michael is looking out the window through a drawn curtain and says, “Hey, Lawrence! – Your mom’s home!” This raises a few questions:

1. Why is the curtain drawn if they are expecting to see Connie coming?
2. Why did Connie go home first instead of to the Patterson house to get Lawrence?
3. Why is Michael sitting on the old green-striped chesterfield and not Lawrence with his bum leg?

Panel 2: Lawrence goes to the window and pulls back the curtain a whole different way than Mike did in the first panel. In order for Michael to see, he pulls the curtain to the right. In order for Lawrence to see, he pulls the curtain to the left. Symbolism? It's hard to say. Lawrence calls, “Mom! Mom!” Maybe his mom will hear him through the window over at her house and will come get (rescue) him.

Panel 3: Then ::Boom:: out from nowhere, Connie appears. Lawrence appears frightened and shocked as she reaches out to him and says, “Lawrence.” Is Lawrence's horrified look because:

a. Of her ghastly new hair style and her brown hair colour?
b. Connie is so much taller than Lawrence that he barely comes up above her knee?
c. Connie magically appeared when Lawrence said, “Mom! Mom!”
d. Lawrence has realized he hasn’t seen his mother’s neck with a neck scarf?
e. Connie’s left arm is significantly longer than her right?

Panel 4: As Connie’s wig seems to be falling back off her head, Lawrence appropriately asks, “Mom! Is that you in there?” I can only imagine the amount of makeup Connie has placed on her face to get that reaction from Lawrence.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Already? No, not really.


Well no. In today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse, Michael and Lawrence show remorse when Elly announces Lawrence is going home tomorrow. This strip was originally printed on February 25, 1981 and it took until March 2, 1981 for Lawrence to finally leave. So, don’t worry boys. You have plenty more time.

The part I find most amusing about the strip is what happens to Lizzie.

In Panel 1, she is between Michael and Lawrence.
In Panel 2, she has disappeared.
In Panel 3, she is being carried off by Elly, who put her hands on Michael’s shoulder to break up the fight.

The way it looks to me, either Michael or Lawrence is standing on Lizzie in Panel 2, and Elly had to come in for a rescue.

The second part I find interesting is Elly’s method of intervention. My son had a friend of his dropped on us for a week last Spring, which eventually wore down my son’s ability to play host to his friend. I can tell you that when boys start yelling loudly at each other, it not a good idea to walk in the room, say a few words, and leave. Boys oftentimes go from a verbal altercation to a physical one. Certainly, Lawrence and Michael have been shown to be violent with each other.

I can’t see a responsible mom leaving them alone. I would recommend separating them until they calm down. However, we have seen Elly deal with fighting boys before, and she seems to favour the idea that she can just say a few words to the boys and leave, without anything else happening.

Of course, I don’t know that Elly would care if Lawrence and Michael got into a physical battle. In this strip, Connie and Elly just casually stood there talking, while Michael and Lawrence got into a public fight. Naturally, this is in stark contrast to Anne Nichols, who is immediately after her son when she sees he has hit Michael.

Finally for the best part of the strip, i.e. the source of the argument in today’s strip:

Lawrence says, “Nerd.” – Lawrence indicates to Michael that he is a nerd and not cool. This is not a terribly bad insult. In fact it is an odd insult for someone to say while angry. I envision “Nerd” as more of an insult when you are trying to start a fight, but not while you are in the middle of one.

Michael says, “Creep.” – Michael indicates to Lawrence that he is not a nice fellow or he is some kind of pervert. Either could apply depending on what they are fighting about, which comes up next.

Lawrence says, “I hate your house.” - Lawrence indicates to Michael his dissatisfaction with Michael’s house. Usually, when I have seen boys fight, the house does not come up as a topic of conversation. In fact, I would say that never have I seen boys fight and mention the house.

Michael says, “Then go home.” - Michael indicates to Lawrence that if he is dissatisfied with his house, he should go to his own house.

Lawrence says, “I can’t wait.” - Lawrence indicates that he would like to do just that.

What we have then is that Lawrence is mad at Michael doing something nerdy which affects his opinion of his house. Michael is mad at Lawrence for doing something creepy. Considering the events of last June, it’s not too difficult to guess what that is and why he couldn’t wait to get back to his own house. If I had to hold it for a week, I would be cranky too.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Hair Dye Cure-All

In today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse we see Connie Poirier just before she is about to head to the famous Montreal hair salon, “Petite Orpheline Annie Conception de Cheveux.” She is looking at her reflected self which, oddly enough, is not wearing glasses. The American Colour colourist opted to start Connie off with blonde hair, so it will be interesting to see what colour Connie ends up with when she reappears. Looking over the strips involving dye, we can see ones involving Connie and April, but more famously Elizabeth’s brief run at having purple hair (which is the best of the bunch). There are few strips with positive examples of hair-dyeing.

In the strip, Connie has come to the following conclusions:

1. I’m too insecure.
2. I don’t need a man.
3. I need self confidence.
4. I need to be happy with me.

It’s going to be easy to take a shot at Connie on this one because, once again, she fails to mention anything about being a more responsible mom or leaving her child with more responsible people. Given that Connie just spent a week in Montreal to chase after Phil which ended up in a meeting which lasted for maybe a few hours of that time, it’s easy to see why Connie might draw these conclusions. Of course, if Connie were more secure and more confident, she might have woken up with Phil instead of by herself. However, the real answer is that if Connie was a little less stupid, she might have let Phil know she was coming, so they could make plans to get together. I am not sure why Connie chose to play the role of stalker, when playing the role of friend and potential lover would have worked a lot better for her.

In spite of these nice conclusions we know that Connie stays on the hunt for a man until she marries in 1987, when Connie proposes to Greg and he accepts. Clearly by that time, she has gotten over the security and self-confidence issues. Until then what we have for Connie is the patented Lynn Johnston style of “No matter how the story ends, the characters restart back at the beginning the next time” which plagued the modern era storylines of the April-Becky feud, and the Trouble with Kelpfroths.

Once she marries, Connie’s issues change so she no longer has these kinds of discussions with herself. This may be less an indication of Connie’s improvement and more an indication that Lynn Johnston was turning the strip to become more Elly-centric. Interestingly enough, in spite of her continued marital status, Elly Patterson still does have these conversations. Here she worries about self-confidence. Here she worries about being insecure. Here she worries about being happy.

Later on Connie’s insecurities resurface. She starts talking about plastic surgery, and we have a few jokes on the matter. In her 2003 letter to Phyllis Diller, Lynn Johnston talked about her “facial refinements” she had in the summer of 2002. So, around the same time Connie had her plastic surgery, so did Lynn Johnston. In many respects Connie is a better representation for Lynn Johnston than Elly is. Elly is sometimes only the person Lynn will admit to being, while Connie is the person she really is. The more I look at this story about Connie in Montreal, the more I think we are seeing the real Lynn Johnston.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Who Says We Learn From Experience? Not Lynn.

Today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse seems very similar to a strip Lynn Johnston did back in 1980 portraying Elly when she was sick. The premise is the same. The woman is lying in bed, changing position with 3 panels of thought balloons. Then the final panel has the punch line. The 1980 strip I remember in particular, because Lynn Johnston reenacted it during her 1980 interview with CBC. To me, it clearly indicates the character represents Lynn. I think Connie Poirier, in this situation, represents Lynn in her single mom days. Maybe there was some guy out there whom single Lynn Johnston threw herself after. Or maybe she did like Connie did, and just happened to be moping around, hoping the guy would figure out she was throwing herself at him. I doubt it.

My initial reaction when reading this strip is “Connie threw herself at Phil? Did I miss a strip?” My understanding of what it means when a woman throws herself at a man is that she has essentially said to him, “Here I am. Do whatever you want with me." This could very well be Connie’s intended message to Phil. She certainly went to Montreal with the “Here I am” idea in mind. It shows her level of desperation for a man, and her complete lack of self respect to have taken the trip in the first place. This is a woman who used her pregnancy to try to get Pablo da Silva to move from his country to marry her, so this type of destructive behaviour is not out-of-character for her.

The surprising part is that she does not get the “Do whatever you want with me" idea across. In this area, Connie is completely inept. She doesn’t seem to realize there is more to throwing yourself at a man than simply showing up. If I look at the strip from yesterday, Connie’s defence mechanisms are up and operating in full force and the standard arsenal women use to attract men has been put into deep storage. She doesn’t smile. She barely talks, and when she does it is about how she shouldn’t be there in the first place because her son has a broken leg. She has no sense of humour. She is wearing clothing that does not flatter her figure. She has the personality of a shy nun. In fact, I think a shy nun would have done better in attracting a man than Connie does with Phil. She is trying to attract Phil the way a wall tries to attract paint.

It’s very mysterious Connie would be portrayed in this fashion, especially considering that in the original publication Connie’s next reaction to this situation is to get a makeover where she does essentially what she should have done before visiting Phil, i.e. make herself appear attractive to the opposite sex. Making yourself look better after being rejected is so Lynn Johnston. Lynn has regaled us in her interviews about wearing the negligees from the Salvation Army and going to bed in full makeup after calling her best girlfriend, who is doing the same, all in the name of feeling better about herself after dealing with rejection from a man.

If Lynn Johnston wanted to show Connie throwing herself at Phil and being rejected, why didn’t she just go ahead and show that? The use of the “in bed thinking” strip device is the clue for the answer. Just as “Elly in bed thinking” represented Lynn, so does “Connie in bed thinking.” Since so much of this strip is taken from Lynn’s life, I can easily speculate the reason for Connie’s excessively demure behaviour is Lynn’s defensive reference to something she may have done in real life. It’s as if she is saying, “I did throw myself at a man, but it wasn’t that bad because I didn’t really do anything bad. I’m not a slut.” To make a fool of yourself over a man, a woman usually has to do a little more than stand there; but if you relate too much to the character, then maybe you don’t want to admit that.

The end result of this portrayal in the strip is a headscratcher. Connie appears to be overreacting to having done nothing, or the readers get the feeling there is significant material we have not seen. The side effect is that Connie’s reaction does not seem to be in keeping with Connie as we know her. She has already been shown to be very aggressive when it came to Phil. This timid creature is not the Connie Poirier we know.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Connie’s Cousin: Important After All

Today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse has made the change to panel 3 from:

Well, it’s been great seeing you. Can I drop you at your cousin’s place?


Well, it’s been great seeing you. Can I drop you at your hotel?

From this statement, Connie responds in thought: Nice. A brush-off. But nice.

When the original statement was talking about being dropped off at her cousin’s place, the interpretation of a brush-off would be correct. Phil is not inviting Connie to a sleazy hotel. Phil is not inviting Connie to his apartment. “Cousin’s place” means “When I drop you off, there will be no sex or spending the night or much of anything.”

With the rewritten strip using “your hotel”, Phil is still not inviting Connie back to his apartment; but now that makes sense. If he has the “’Allo?” girl there, he wouldn’t want to take Connie back to his apartment. This means offering to go to Connie’s hotel is not really a brush-off. It’s exactly the opposite. It should be precisely what Connie wants Phil to do. All Connie has to do is invite him up for a nightcap. In other words, Lynn has reworded the comic strip to get rid of the cousin reference, without thinking why the cousin reference was there in the first place. Here you go, Lynn! I figured it out for you. Back in 1981 you put in a cousin so Connie would know she was being brushed off, when Phil offered to drop her at her cousin's place. It didn’t have anything to do with having the cousin in as a character.

Let’s assume Connie is right and Phil really is brushing Connie off by dropping her at her hotel. What is Connie expecting that would not be a brush-off? Is she expecting Phil to invite her to go to a different sleazy motel room from the one in which she is already staying? And if that is her expectation, what is Connie doing to let Phil know that this is what she wants? This is Connie’s method of seduction:

1. Wear frumpy clothes covering you up to your neck and down to your wrist.
2. Don’t speak to Phil. Let him do all the talking.
3. Don’t touch Phil or smile at Phil (except when he isn't looking at you).
4. When you are walking beside Phil, put your hand in your pocket, stare straight forward and put your purse in a death grip; just in case Phil decides to mug you.

With seduction techniques like that, the unseen 5th panel to today's strip should show Phil thinking, “I wish she invited me up to her hotel room, but she just stood there and didn’t say anything. Nice. A brush-off. But nice.”

Connie shows up out of nowhere. Phil has not had the time to prepare to show her around town or take her any place nice. Not only that, but by the time Phil finished his gig, it's not likely there are many places around town that are still open. Assuming Phil isn't a sleazebag who is going to say, "Connie, let's go to a hotel and have hot and tawdry sex," then what are his options?:

a. Thank Connie for coming to see him and wave goodbye at the Jazzy Club. After all, if she got there by herself, then she can get back by herself.

b. Offer to take Connie back to where she is staying. It's the gentlemanly thing to do to make sure Connie gets home safely.

c. Take Connie home, but offer to take Connie out to do something the next day.

d. Realize that Connie has gone out of her way to visit him, so he should get on bended knee and propose.

Personally I think (b) is the best answer, followed closely by (c). Phil seems to be acting like a gentlemen to me. For Connie to think he is brushing her off, must mean that Connie is not accustomed to a man treating her very well. It's like she is saying, "He's not pawing all over me and trying to get me in bed. He must not like me." The more I look at this strip, the more messed-up Connie seems to be.

Take this behaviour and add it in the story of Pablo da Silva. Were Connie and Pablo really all that much in love during their medical mission, as Connie suggests when she tells the story? Or did Connie throw herself at Pablo and got pregnant with Lawrence as a result.

Take this behaviour and add it in the story of Connie's first husband, Peter Landry,who kept trying to change her? Was Peter really trying to unfairly control Connie? Or was Peter trying to change Connie to help her with her terrible self-esteem?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Translating Phil

In today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse, Phil Richards uses a number of slang phrases which make understanding what he is saying a little diffcult. To this end, I will provide definitions for you, so you can understand what he is saying:

Panel 1: Connie! Far out! Too much!

Far Out - An interjection meaning "great" or "cool," as in All he could say when he won the lottery was "Far out!" Originally a slang term for daringly creative jazz, this expression has been applied to other art forms and undertakings. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]

Too much - overwhelming; excellent. : It's wonderful. It's just too much!

Phil Translation: Connie. It is great you are here. It is excellent.

Panel 2 - Some gig, eh? --- The place is no banana---but the dough is cool.

Gig– a single professional engagement, usually of short duration, as of jazz or rock musicians.

Eh? - Chiefly Canadian Used to ascertain or reinforce a listener's interest or agreement.

Banana - an American of East Asian descent who acts too much like a Caucasian. (The person is yellow on the outside and white on the inside. Patterned on oreo. See also apple. Rude and derogatory.) : Stop acting like such a banana!

Dough - Slang. Money.

Cool - Slang - great; fine; excellent: a real cool comic.

Phil Translation: Don't you think I performed well? I am a Canadian. This place has nothing to do with American persons of East Asian descent who are trying to act Caucasian. The money they pay me here is excellent.

Panel 3 - Hang loose for one more set and we’ll rap, OK?

Hang loose, Slang. to remain relaxed or calm: Try to hang loose and don't let it bother you.

Set - Music. a group of pieces played by a band, as in a night club, and followed by an intermission.

Rap - Slang. to talk or discuss, esp. freely, openly, or volubly; chat.

Phil Translation: Remain calm until I finish playing one more group of pieces and we can talk.

There you have it. Aside from "banana", for which I could not find a slang phrase that fit the context of everything else, all of this language can easily be determined. Of course, the idea of a man speaking like this in the early 1980s when the strip was published instead of in the 1960s, does tell you a little bit about Phil. The idea that Phil did not speak like this in any other strip, does tell you a little bit about Lynn Johnston's ability to write consistent dialogue.

The thing I noticed this time looking at the strip as opposed to the times before, is Phil touches Connie once on greeting and once on departure. This does suggest a certain degree of familiarity between the two of them.

The bilingual joke takes an extra meaning when combined with the strip of the woman at Phil’s apartment. Originally intended to be a joke about Phil’s slang speech, there is now an unexpected reference to the “’Allo?” girl.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Theory Destroyed. Humble Again.

Lynn Johnston had announced that in Early Spring she would go to straight reprints. Looking through all the strips reprinted so far, I determined that the last daily strips from 1981 which Lynn had already reprinted were the “Elly wants to cook gourmet" sequence from 3/25/1981 to 3/30/1981. From this I concluded that Early Spring = end of March. This was working on the presumption that Lynn Johnston would want to synchronize the current strip with the daily strip, so all the holiday strips would fall in the right places.

Flying in the face of that theory were the Sunday colour strips which Lynn had chosen to reprint from 1981. Lynn has already reprinted all the 1981 Sunday strips through the end of March, plus she also reprinted the Sunday strips from 4/12/1981, 5/3/1981, 5/10/1981, 5/17/1981, 6/7/1981, 6/14/1981, 6/21/1981, and 7/19/1981. I thought this meant that Lynn would have to do new-run strips on Sunday until the end of March in order to synchronize the Sunday strips by the end of March also. I theorized that Lynn might reprint 1980s Sunday strips she had not already reprinted on those Sundays which corresponded to days where she had already reprinted after March, 1981.

Well, with today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse, Lynn gave my theory a good kick in the pants. Today’s reprint comes from 04/26/1981. In other words, it is another Sunday colour strip from after March. Because of this strip I have to propose a new theory. That new theory is that in Early Spring, when Lynn Johnston goes to straight reprints, she will not care if the reprints synchronize in time with the original publication dates in 1981. Or at least she won’t care if the Sunday colour strips synchronize with 1981. She’ll just reprint whatever she has, and if it doesn’t mesh with the current time, then so be it.

As for the strip, it’s a slice-of-life from someone who obviously doesn’t want to empty the trash. The best part of the strip is the absolutely forlorn look on Elly’s face in the last panel, as if she knows she is going to have to empty that waste basket herself, thanks to her lazy husband.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The 3 Conjectures

In today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse, Connie Poirier is in the Jazzy Club, listening to Phil Richard’s band. The Warthog Good Times Boogie Band appears to consist of Phil playing what I think is supposed to be a trumpet (although it has no valves), a bass player playing what appears to be a giant guitar ( judging from the neck and body of that thing), and a balding man with a goatee playing what I think is supposed to be a trap set (although the cymbal is in the wrong place and the drum heads are not rotated towards the player). To be honest, the man on the drums could just as easily have a pair of pliers in his right hand getting ready to operate on a set of pipes. A real trap set looks like this and a real bass viol looks like this and a real trumpet looks like this, in case you want to see just how far off Lynn is.

Here we see Connie surrounded by silhouettes in a situation which, oddly enough, actually calls for silhouettes to be able to distinguish Connie from the crowd. I take a small comfort in knowing that at one time, Lynn Johnston really did know how to use silhouettes.

For fun, let’s examine Connie’s thought processes:

1. I feel foolish. What if he sees me! Connie starts off feeling foolish, because she does not know what will happen if Phil sees her there. To satisfy her curiosity on this matter, Connie begins to make conjectures about possible outcomes to this event.

2. If he sees me, I’ll die. Connie fears that the result of Phil seeing her will be her death.

3. If he sees me, I’ll go nuts. I’ll get up and leave! Connie fears that the result of Phil may not actually be death, but perhaps insanity, or maybe it will cause her to get up and leave.

4. When’s he going to see me?! Having speculated about 3 possible outcomes from the event of being seen by Phil (death, insanity, departure), Connie now wonders when that event will occur, so that she may be able to judge which conjecture she predicted will be correct. Having seen the strips coming up, I can tell you that Connie does live and Connie does not get up and leave. The result which is left is insanity. Yeah! I can believe that.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

New Dialogue / Worse Strip

Lynn has left the artwork the same in this reprint of For Better or For Worse, but she has changed the dialogue in the first panel to remove Connie’s cousin. The line used to be:

I’m not going to let fate spoil things. If my cousin can’t see Phil perform tonight…I’ll go alone.

Now it is:

I’m not going to let fate spoil things. Even if he is seeing someone, I can still see him perform.

What we had in the original storyline was fate contending against Connie. Fate had produced (a) a girl at Phil’s apartment, indicating he may be living with someone, (b) Lawrence’s broken leg and now (c) Connie is unable to go hear Phil play with her cousin, so she can’t pretend she is just coincidentally seeing the show. In spite of all these things, Connie continues on with her plan. After all, in the For Better or For Worse universe it is fate which decides which couples will be together and which will not.

You would have to wonder, in such circumstances while Connie would be continuing on. The key ingredient is in the definition of the relationship of Phil with the other girl. In this strip Connie thinks, “Phil may be living with someone.” And in this strip, Elly says, “I don’t know who the girl is.” The implication is that Phil is not necessarily involved in the girl in any way other than as a roommate. After all, Elly doesn’t know anything about her, so it’s nothing serious. There is not much difference between that situation and the one we had until we got to Lynn’s new additions.

In today’s strip, Connie worries, “Even if he is seeing someone.” This takes the roommate speculation out of it. It means that broken-hearted Connie is going to see Phil perform, even though she thinks he is with someone else. In other words, it’s not:

I still have a chance with Phil, because I think he may have a female roommate.


Even if Phil is seeing someone else, I don’t care. I still want Phil.

That’s kind of harsh for Connie. When Phil ultimately brushes her off; it makes it very difficult to side with Connie’s position. In the old strip, she’s going in thinking she has a chance, but fate keeps getting in the way. In the new strip, she’s going in thinking Phil is already attached to someone else and she doesn't care. It’s very Elizabeth Patterson of her. Of course, I had the same issue with Elizabeth trying to bust up Anthony’s marriage, so there you are.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Broken Leg Stuff: Neat and Unreal

Today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse once again delves into the bizarre medical practices of 1981’s Milborough:

Panel 1: Look, everyone at school signed my cast! It’s been awhile since I have seen someone with a broken limb and a cast you can sign. However, I will grant it was probably more commonplace back in 1981. I see Mr. Williams, Tricy, and a smiley face with arms. No Deanna Sobinski and noticeably no Michael Patterson. This one falls into the same category as the mashing spitballs into the dictionary strip -- I think Lynn Johnston keeps forgetting that Lawrence and Michael go to the same class of the same school. In other words, there is no need for Michael or Lawrence to explain to each other what happened in school.

Panel 2: I don’t hafta take baths for a long time. 6 weeks to wear a cast is typical for a fracture. That would be a long time for no bath. Actually, the recommendation for broken legs is that when you take a bath, protect it with a plastic bag to keep the cast from getting wet. Do not lower it into water. It is nice to see the return of the duck of evil though.

Panel 3: I even get your bed! This broken leg stuff is neat, Mike! Actually most people with broken legs will probably have trouble sleeping in a flat bed. Lawrence should try sleeping in a recliner or easy chair or at least have a pillow for leg support.

Panel 4: Too bad it didn’t happen to someone else. This part I can actually believe, if Lawrence is talking about the pain part. For some reason Lynn seems to be portraying Lawrence as a “my leg only hurt just after it was injured, but now it feels great” kind of kid. We haven’t seen anything about pain relief medications. That leg is going to hurt, and itch, and we haven’t even gotten to the difficulties in going to the bathroom. If Lynn is going to do that, it would have to be new-run. In the original run, it took Lynn another month to get to a realistic reaction from wearing a cast.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Not a Redo. Oopsie!

Much to my surprise, I find that today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse was not actually redone yesterday. Lynn Johnston even left in the “visit with family” part, even though she has been getting rid of all mentions of Connie Poirier’s cousin. I guess those must be “cousin” only deletions.

The oddest part is that there seems to be no effort on her part to reconcile the difference in perspective of Connie Poirier in yesterday’s new-run and today’s reprint. They don’t have the same focus. Putting yesterday’s strip and today’s back-to-back means:

1. Even though Connie told Lawrence she was coming home soon, she is immediately thinking of this not as a promise, but as good advice, which she may or may not follow.

2. Even though Connie believed Phil broke her heart from living with someone, now she starts thinking he may be living with someone. For some reason not shown to us she is less certain.

3. Even though Connie referred to her situation as “crazy”, now her plan of what to do includes taking the time to visit with previously-unmentioned family.

Connie doesn’t seem to be able to keep her mind on one thing for more than a short period of time. In other words, putting those 2 strips back-to-back makes Connie appear to be mentally ill. On the plus side, once again, by trying to make a character look better, Lynn Johnston has managed to make her look worse. Congratulations Lynn! I knew you could do it!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Connie's Low Moment: Redone

Today’s new-run of For Better or For Worse is actually a redo. The original strip was the lowest point of the Connie Poirier character in the 30-year run of the strip, in my opinion. I can understand why Lynn would want to replace it. However, I suspect her motivation had more to do with the fact that Connie says, “visit with family” which is no longer a strip option for her, as Lynn Johnston has been getting rid of all mentions of Connie Poirier’s cousin.

The 2 strips have differences:

1. In the new-run, Connie talks to Lawrence, sympathizes with him and tells him she is coming home soon. In the original, we don’t see the conversation between Lawrence and Connie, and Connie wonders if she will go straight home.

If Lynn Johnston runs with the original storyline: The new-run turns Connie’s promise to Lawrence into a lie. In original, we see Connie ignore her common sense (lies to herself).

2. In the new-run, Connie refers to her relationship with Phil as “I have a broken heart.” In the original, Connie refers to her relationship with Phil as “Phil may be living with someone.”

If Lynn Johnston runs with the original storyline: The new-run shows no reason for Connie to see Phil, since she feels she has already been rejected by him. In the original, she is not certain about Phil’s living arrangement, so there is still hope when she goes to see Phil perform.

3. In the new-run, Connie refers to her situation as “crazy”. In the original, Connie listed out the broken leg and Phil’s possible living situation more as obstacles to her goals with Phil.

If Lynn Johnston runs with the original storyline: The new-run casts judgment on Connie’s sanity. In the original, she simply refuses to do what she knows is the best thing to do.

4. In the new-run, Connie does wordplay off 2 meanings of the word “broken." In the original, Connie seems to admit that she has lost control and doesn’t seem to know what she is doing.

If Lynn Johnston runs with the original storyline: The new-run destroys Connie’s concern for Lawrence with this meaningless wordplay. In the original, Connie appears to be going whacko.