Thursday, March 13, 2008

We Interrupt the Comic Book Posting for a Rant

First, for anyone coming here to the blog itself, it seems the host for my site where most of my blog graphics are stored is down. I haven't heard from the guy in charge, so I don't know what's going on. But for now, my apologies for the mess. Now, on to the rant.

I've been a loyal reader of the comic strip For Better or For Worse since it first appeared in the New York Daily News many years ago. I've enjoyed the fully realized characters, the daring plots (Lynn Johnston introduced disabled and gay characters, killed off others, and tackled sensitive subjects), the slice of real life feel, the wonderful art, the fact that the characters age and grow. But now, the culmination of a long, ongoing storyline looks to be ended as I've been dreading for the last year or so. And I'm not the only one who is appalled by the engagement of Elizabeth and Anthony.

Aside from how poorly it was written, not to mention dull, it is clear to me that Warren returned only to be the impetus for Anthony and Liz to have "the conversation" about the M word. In the past, Lynn would never have resorted to such an obvious plot device.

What has continued to bug me is that Liz is the character who left home, looking for adventure, going up north to teach in a tiny community, where she met Paul who seemed her soulmate. Then, pining for home after a couple of years, she just leaves, expecting he would follow and leave the only life he knows or wants. She was the one who'd left home to seek out new experiences, she was the one who entered his world. And yet, he considered giving up his job for her. It was similar with Warren, a pilot she met during that time, prior to meeting Paul. She could obviously teach anywhere (she seemed to have no trouble getting jobs), but the men in her life had jobs that were not easily transferable. But they obviously didn't love her enough or she them, because she had no trouble returning home to her boring old life and her boring old boyfriend Anthony who now, after splitting with his cold, selfish wife, is a single father. And as has been pointed out in the LiveJournal discussion I linked to above, not once have they said they love each other. They're merely two old friends who are comfortable with each other who want to marry.

It's Lynn's right to do what she wants with her characters, but I guess I don't like the whole theme of settling for what you have in the place you grew up, that you can't find happiness outside that small, comfortable world where your expectations aren't challenged and there are no surprises. And yes, it does feel like settling and Liz comes across as manipulative, as if she'd been angling to get Anthony all along and merely toyed with the affections of Warren and Paul. I think perhaps Lynn's only marital problems (she and her husband split after he was unfaithful) has influenced her story arc for Liz, and if so, that's sad. Liz when she was teaching up north was a fun character, becoming part of a new community, forging a new life for herself. Now, she's back home and with her bun, looks like a younger version of her mother. She looks a bit worn, too, as if the best years are behind her.

feh. I hate when something I love reading becomes routine and boring or simply loses the spark that made it special. Kinda like the post-Darwyn Cooke The Spirit, so far.


  1. Speaking of Lynn's own marital problems, I noticed that the Sunday rerun a week or two after she announced their split was a strip where Elly wakes up mad at John because she dreamed he had left her for another woman. I've wondered ever since if this was planned by her, or just really unfortunate timing.

  2. I remember seeing that and wondering the same thing. Maybe the strip is therapy for her.

  3. I'm not a regular follower of the strip, but doesn't it seem like Lynn Johnson only draws two female hairstyles, the hair bun and the short bob? I have had trouble telling the various girls and women apart.

  4. It does seem that way re: the female hairstyles, but she has drawn other styles, for Liz' friends, for other supporting characters. Maybe she's just more comfortable drawing the bob and the bun.