Saturday, August 07, 2010

Straight Reprints: It's Official

One of the options I suggested Lynn Johnston might be taking For Better or For Worse, when I wrote last week was this:

Since July 19, 1981 was reprinted way back on July 19, 2009; Lynn will start reprinting from July 26, 1981 next week and then continue that way with the strips off in date continuity between 1981 and 2010 by 2 weeks.

With today's reprint in For Better of For Worse, this is exactly what has happened. July 26, 1981 has reappeared. I had thought Lynn Johnston might synchronize the publication of the Sunday strips between the dates in 2010 with those of the original publication dates in 1981 as she has done with the daily strips, but that doesn't seem to be the case. As of this point in her reprinting, Lynn Johnston has no more strips in 1981 originally published after July 26, which she has already reprinted in the last 2 years of doing the new-runs. In other words, we have entered the land of straight reprints. The only place the 2-week separation will cause her trouble is around the holiday seasons. I doubt that she is thinking that far in advance.

As for today's comic strip, it goes along with one of Lynn Johnston's running jokes for the strip, i.e. husbands don't know how to dress themselves. Eventually this ends up being a little ironic in the later years of the strip when Elly Patterson hits her 50s and starts dressing like she is in her 80s. Unlike many other strips of this sort, John Patterson is actually allowed to make a case for his love of this particular jacket which sounds reasonable for a man who forgets to do up his belt and tuck in his shirt and who needs to scratch underneath his sports jacket while out in public. The humour works pretty well here, because Elly does not go into a giant fit over John's logic. She lets him sink himself. The clever reader will quickly understand that, given John's explanation, a wife might prefer him to cover up those activities.

Let's not think too hard about why John might be out in public with his shirt untucked and his belt undone. Probably he is talking about when he leaves the bathroom without remembering to do those things and not moments where he is leaving another woman's house in a rush.

What this strip does show in the final panel is what I refer to as the George Burns moment, where the character stops the action and makes a joke directly to the reader. Lynn Johnston must have gone through a phase in July of 1981, because she did the same thing last week and the week before. Eventually she stops doing this, and lets her characters say the punch line to another character, who will be shown laughing hilariously in reaction to it. I prefer the method she uses today.