Friday, February 1, 2008

For Better or For Worse update

Whenever I do a post on For Better or For Worse, I tend to get a lot of reactions. I think there's a lot more people out there who follow this comic strip than I realize.

For all of you who do, see this article from Editor and Publisher about where the strip is headed.

Here's a quote:
"The current plan: Continue tying up loose ends with various "FBorFW" characters (a process that's taking longer than Johnston expected). Then, no later than this September, freeze all these cast members in time. After that, the 1979-launched comic will focus on the younger versions of the characters. But that doesn't mean the post-September strips will consist entirely of rerun material. Johnston plans to change various elements of the comics, create new story lines, etc. -- but do all that in the drawing style she used to have. "

What do I think? I love the strip. I really do. But I don't think it's the kind of comic strip that
successfully works in reruns (even if there's new material, there will still be an awful lot of reruns). It isn't a timeless comic strip. The characters in FBOFW age and grow and develop. To see them at the beginning of this process doesn't work so well. I own almost all of the later books and collections but not the ones from the earlier years. Those stories just aren't as interesting to me.

Also, Lynn Johnston has really grown as an artist and as a storyteller. Her art has become increasingly complex. I like her current drawing style much, much better than her old one. I find when the strips from 20 years ago are inserted (as they currently are every few weeks), they really fall flat. (See today's strip for an example of the old drawing style). They just can't compare to the newer strips, and they're pretty painful to read.

You would think that I'd be a perfect audience for the old strips. They're about raising young children (and I'm the parent of a young child). But the FBOFW jokes are dated and more one dimensional than in later strips. For parenting humor, I'd rather turn to current strips like The Pajama Diaries which represent issues and situations much closer to the ones I'm dealing with.

So, as much as I love FBOFW, it's okay with me if Lynn Johnston retires. I'd rather have her end the strip gracefully than to re-work all the old material that's best left alone in collections. I read FBOFW because of the character development, and without that, it just doesn't work for me.

What do you think? Vote in the poll on the sidebar or leave a comment.


  1. "Johnston plans to change various elements of the comics, create new story lines, etc. -- but do all that in the drawing style she used to have."

    I... don't get that. At all. It bugged me when George Lucas and Steven Spielberg played revisionist historian with Star Wars and E.T., and Stephen King with The Dark Tower. I want to shake her and say, "You have been there. You have done that. Let it be!"

  2. Seems that Johnston has had her run, entertained us with her craft, and reached goals the majority of cartoonists only wish. At this point, although I have enjoyed her strip, she should move over and let new talent, with updated perspectives/art/writing, take over. I have been reading The Pajama Diaries by Terri Libenson for about a year and would agree with the original post. I like it!

  3. I agree as well. I've always loved FBoFW. I think I will really miss having the characters grow up. I wanted to see what would happen with April as she got of high school and beyond. I also don't like the drawing style of the old strips. I think Johnston is trying to hard to please everybody and failing by pleasing nobody. She should retire gracefully and end her strip as others have done. If newspapers would like to run old strips like they have with Peanuts (my all-time favorite), then that is their choice.

    Just my two (or maybe three!) cents!

  4. Lisa- Yes, I agree... I think sometime you just need to let things be.

    Anonymous- I'm happy to hear that someone else likes the Pajama Diaries. Unfortunately, my paper only carried it for a brief trial run and didn't pick it up. Sigh.

    Cary's Girl- Exactly. You hit the nail on the head.