Sunday, April 04, 2010

Straight Reprints? We’ll See.

Today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse features the expected can opener strip, originally reprinted on April 6, 1981. Although Lynn Johnston has not officially announced it, I expect that since this strip lines up in time so well with our current date of April 5, 2010; we are seeing the first strip of Lynn Johnston’s promised straight reprints of For Better or For Worse. Lynn said she wouldn’t go into straight reprints until the story could stand on its own, and I can see that with this story. In the 13 strips which compose the storyline, Lynn touches on an issue which has been and probably always will be a struggle between husbands and wives – - the family finances, especially when one of the spouses claims priority because of being the breadwinner in the family. We also see Elly’s use of anger and outrage in full flourish as John struggles to placate her, a theme which will reappear continually for 30 years.

For fans of the strip, this is a well-known story. Over the years of blogging on this strip I have seen a number of die-hard fans make a reference to this storyline. Looking over the story in its entirety I can see why. It’s relevant. It’s funny. Elly does not avoid appearing a little silly. Although John Patterson takes a few shots in it, they are not as personal. He is not being called a bad father or a bad husband as a point of the humour, which is the way it was for much of the first 2 years of the strip. This is a good place for Lynn to begin the straight reprints. For those persons who have never read the strip before, straight reprints are the best thing for them. The comic strip will just get better and better until Lynn starts reprinting strips from 2000, the year I consider to be the turning point on the quality of the strip. After that, it will start getting worse and worse. With straight reprints, that will be 19 years from now. By then, who will care?

As for the Howard Bunt Blog, this is the point I have been waiting for since September, 2007, the date on which Lynn Johnston originally announced she was going to retire. I have no desire to continue blogging on the old material. However, if it turns out that I am wrong, and there is still more new material to come, then the Howard Bunt Blog will reappear to comment on it. Lynn Johnston has already reprinted most of the Sunday comic strips from April to June, 1981; so there is a good chance that she will continue to do new material for the Sunday strips for the next 3 months in order to line up the dates for them between 1981 and 2010. Until she makes a specific announcement of an end date, we will have to wait and see. If there is one thing that following Lynn Johnston’s work has shown me, it is that she is quite capable of changing her retirement plans.

As for the dailies, if you want to read in advance, the material is all there on the Comic Strip Catalog on Lynn’s website and can be accessed by ID, but not by date. The Date choice has been blocked out for the next 6 months to give you some surprise. For those you who don’t like surprises, the IDs are these in chronological order: 3676, 3987, 125-128, 3988, 129, 130, 3989, 3990, 131, 3991.

I have some regrets about not continuing on with comments on the daily strips. I have been doing it a long time now, and it takes awhile for a blogger to build an audience. If there is one thing that commenting on the reprinted strips over the last 2½ years has taught me is that I am not that fond of commenting on 30-year-old material that was done by a rank amateur in the comic strip field. Aside from being outdated, sometimes it seems like I am picking on someone too young and inexperienced to know better. It was much more fun to comment on the work of a seasoned 30-year professional turning out the worst material of her career.

Until there is something new, see you then!

29 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comic strip will just get better and better until Lynn starts reprinting strips from 2000, the year I consider to be the turning point on the quality of the strip. After that, it will start getting worse and worse.

....Thus chronologically fulfilling the strip's name: "For Better or [read: 'and then'] For Worse".

9:19 PM  
Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

Well, it's been a pleasure reading your blog; as for me, I'm turning my blog into an examination of other strips that irritate me.

9:36 PM  
Blogger howard said...

Anonymous,

....Thus chronologically fulfilling the strip's name: "For Better or [read: 'and then'] For Worse".

It did work out that way. Of course, that’s the way it is with many artists working on a comic strip, even the great ones (see the final years of Peanuts, Steve Canyon, L’il Abner, Pogo, etc.) The artists who retire from the strip at the top of their game are few and far between, and I can hardly blame them. After all, it is their living providing a regular income for them and their family. What makes Lynn Johnston different from those other guys is that she seemed to be actively working towards the destruction of her work, the level of the fall-off was much more significant. The other guys went from great to OK. With her hybrids and new-runs, Lynn Johnston went from great to “able to compete for worst strip on the comics page”.

10:18 PM  
Blogger howard said...

DreadedCandiru2,.

Well, it's been a pleasure reading your blog; as for me, I'm turning my blog into an examination of other strips that irritate me.

There is certainly plenty of material there, if your comments to the Comics Casserole are any indication.

10:18 PM  
Blogger April Patterson said...

It's been a great run, howtheduck. My entire morning routine is going to be changing. I hate to even admit this, but for the longest time it's been: Read foob, read this blog, read Foobiverse.

I'll be wrapping up FOOBAR soon, and that will open up a bunch of time for me. For a while, I expect I'll use that time to get ahead with my "Crazy Guy" series, and then who knows...

Anyway, it's been a pleasure foobing with you, howtheduck. I'll miss having your blog as part of my daily routine. Thanks for all the time you've put into HBB (and HKB before that). :)

5:22 AM  
Blogger howard said...

aprilp_katje,

I hate to even admit this, but for the longest time it's been: Read foob, read this blog, read Foobiverse.

No shame there. My morning routine is very similar, which I am sure is not a surprise to you. The biggest change for me will be my evening routine, since I am used to staying up to when the new foob strip came out, and then trying to think of something to write about it, so there would be something for you to read when you got up in the morning.

For a while, I expect I'll use that time to get ahead with my "Crazy Guy" series, and then who knows...

Maybe “Crazy Guy” will be published more often. Daily?

Thanks for all the time you've put into HBB (and HKB before that). :)

Yes, the old Howard Kelpfroth Blog, before we knew what Howard’s last name was.

6:10 AM  
Blogger April Patterson said...

Maybe “Crazy Guy” will be published more often. Daily?

Maybe eventually. My first step will be getting at least a week ahead on a regular basis. Once I'm there, maybe I'll go up to two times a week and build up from there. :)

6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog. Your examination of how an artist sabotaged her life's work has fascinated and entertained me, long after the strip itself stopped doing so.

8:13 AM  
Blogger howard said...

aprilp_katje,

My first step will be getting at least a week ahead on a regular basis.

I’m sure Lynn Johnston would tell you 6 weeks dailies, and 8 weeks Sundays. And when you get a portfolio, you should definitely stop by her house for a visit and introduce yourself as Katje.

11:01 AM  
Blogger howard said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for this blog. Your examination of how an artist sabotaged her life's work has fascinated and entertained me, long after the strip itself stopped doing so.

You are quite welcome. It’s been an interesting journey for me too. The great thing about the strip is that it is not just that Lynn Johnston has been doing work well beneath what she is capable of doing, but that she has been doing it spectacularly bad. Just 2 weeks ago she had a strip with John Patterson dry–humping the Super Vac at the car wash, and it was being played for laughs in a family strip. You wouldn't see something like in The Family Circus. If Lynn Johnston had just been bad, it would not have been as much fun to examine her work.

11:03 AM  
Blogger April Patterson said...

And when you get a portfolio, you should definitely stop by her house for a visit and introduce yourself as Katje.

I think she'd have me escorted away by security. Or Steph. And she might use her magic sketchpad to transform me into a dog. ;)

11:06 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Found you blog when I was frustrated with the the whole Anthony/Liz marrage thing I wanted to see if I was the only one who thought the way I did, boy was I shocked to find out how many people did! I widdeled my way down to just two blogs from about ten, yours survived cause of how detailed it was and also, how funny it could be! So, thanks for the memories and providing me a place to simply nod and go, "yup, that's about right!"

4:18 PM  
Blogger howard said...

aprilp_katje,

I think she'd have me escorted away by security. Or Steph. And she might use her magic sketchpad to transform me into a dog. ;)

The magic sketchbook might be a problem. Of course you might turn out to be a lovely Newfoundland, a good Canadian doggy. As for Steph, she's not around for such things anymore, like she was back when we wrote that storyline for April's Real Blog. Only Liuba Liamzini remains as an enforcer.

4:19 PM  
Blogger April Patterson said...

Only Liuba Liamzini remains as an enforcer.

Good point--and I might be able to distract her by asking her to give me Spanish lessons.

4:27 PM  
Blogger howard said...

Timothy,

Found you blog when I was frustrated with the the whole Anthony/Liz marrage thing I wanted to see if I was the only one who thought the way I did, boy was I shocked to find out how many people did!

There were quite a few people. There was something about that whole situation which enraged the fans. Shaenon K. Garrity’s write-up Why I Hate Anthony was one of the best at summarizing the reasons.

So, thanks for the memories and providing me a place to simply nod and go, "yup, that's about right!"

You’re very welcome. I’m glad my blog was one of your choices.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Destroyer of Worlds said...

Aww, I'm so sad! It can't all be ending yet!!

You had a really good run though! It was interesting watching you mince this strip down to its basic parts!

6:16 PM  
Blogger howard said...

Destroyer of Worlds

Aww, I'm so sad! It can't all be ending yet!!

I would never underestimate Lynn Johnston’s capacity for find ways to put off doing straight reprints and retiring. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sunday strips will have some new stuff in them, and if they do, I will pop up again for that. However, the signs and portents seems to indicate that we are in the land of straight reprints for the daily strips.

You had a really good run though! It was interesting watching you mince this strip down to its basic parts!

Thanks. Certainly when it came to Lynn’s art, basic parts is the way it seemed, for an artist who seemed to draw individual body parts which didn’t seem to be related to the other body parts on the same body.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Muzition said...

Will you still be commenting on the travel diaries?

9:49 AM  
Blogger howard said...

Muzition,

Will you still be commenting on the travel diaries?

Anything new. So travel diaries, newspaper or magazine interviews, news announcements.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay! So all is not lost---here's hoping Lynn goes on lots of trips among the oddball foreigners.


Debjyn

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for all of the commentary. I've been reading your blog for a few years now (in anonymity), and I would just like to say that I am very sorry to see you go. Thanks for all the days where I would go up to my computer and get my daily dose of analysis from your posts. :) I'll miss your blog!

6:12 PM  
Blogger howard said...

Debjyn,

…here's hoping Lynn goes on lots of trips among the oddball foreigners.

If history is any indication, that will certainly happen.

9:10 PM  
Blogger howard said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for all the days where I would go up to my computer and get my daily dose of analysis from your posts. :) I'll miss your blog!

You’re welcome. Thank you for the kind words.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Laura Piche said...

"Howard"!!
I just got wind that you're 'retiring' from your FBorFW blogging career! Great fun! Just had to swing by and give you my best regards. Live it up!

7:17 AM  
Blogger April Patterson said...

Laura! It's so nice of you to drop by. How have you been? :)

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Allison Zadorozny said...

Hey Howard! Laura Piche just let me know that you are 'hanging up the pens' as well. It's been fun reading your blog and secretly commenting all these years. :-) Enjoy your free time!

9:56 AM  
Blogger April Patterson said...

Hello, Allison! It's like a mini-reunion here at HBB. Hope you're well. :)

10:30 AM  
Blogger howard said...

Laura Piche,

I just got wind that you're 'retiring' from your FBorFW blogging career! Great fun! Just had to swing by and give you my best regards. Live it up!

Laura,

Thanks for swinging by. It’s always fun to hear from you and read your enthusiastic comments. ‘retiring’ with the quotes is right. I reserve the right to pop back up if Lynn Johnston produces any new material for me to comment on. As near as I can tell, we are past that point, unless you count adding a “1 “ to the price of an item in a reprint comic strip, which I don’t.

1:59 PM  
Blogger howard said...

Allison Zadorozny,

It's been fun reading your blog and secretly commenting all these years. :-) Enjoy your free time!

Allison,

I shall enjoy my free time. I have already been enjoying going to bed at a decent hour instead of waiting up every night for the next comic strip. Thanks so much for all your secret comments. They were greatly appreciated.

2:00 PM  

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