PDA

View Full Version : For Better Or For Worse -- Any Other Fans Disappointed?


Jodi
11-30-2006, 11:43 AM
I'm a pretty dedicated FBOFW fan. I read the strip every day and have for years and years. I have literally every anthology book in the series and buy the new one as soon as it hits the shelves every September. I know the characters and histories of the Patterson family better than any other group of fictional characters you could name. I've found the strip amusing and touching and I have in the past really cared what happened. When Farley died, I was genuinely saddened, as if a real pet of a real family friend had died. I've been dreading the unnamed day in 2007 when Lynn Johnston has said the strip would end. (Although she seems to be backing off of that lately, and is now saying only that the characters will no longer age. See! That's how well I know this strip.)

So I'm dismayed to have to say -- I'm am not enjoying the strip anymore. Here's why:

(1) It's trying to follow too many characters. When the story was just the Patterson family, we had different characters with different concerns, but everybody came home to the same house every night. Now there's: Elly and John; Mike (and wife and two kids); Elizabeth; April; and Grandpa and Iris. All of them (except April, who still lives at home) in separate households, all of them leading separate lives. We just can't follow them all. Now, I see Johnston's problem here -- who do you just drop out of the strip, after following them for years and years? But the zooming around for character to character, frantically trying to make sure everyone gets some time on stage -- it's not working. This is exacerbated by introducing characters that Jphnston clearly doesn't have time to do justice to -- like Shannon, the disabled girl in April's class.

(2) It's getting preachy. A perfect example is Shannon, who serves to whack us over the head with the lesson that we should be nice to the disabled, not mean like Becky is. But these days Johnston doesn't have the time to spin out a storyline or develop characters to the point that we as readers can reach our own conclusions -- so the lesson is crammed down our throats. Sometimes it gets almost Family Circus cutesy-sweet -- harsh words, I know.

(3) It's either too serious or it's dopey. Elizabeth was assaulted and has to go to court. Grandpa Jim had a stroke. Or, on the other hand, little Robin flushed a sock down the toilet ("Sowwy, Daddy!") I think this is an extension of (1), but if you spread the characters so thin that people can't and don't care about them, then they won't be invested in what happens to them, especially if you don't/can't give such serious topics the attention they deserve. (Grandpa had a debilitating stroke; here's a week's worth of strips on that and then we'll see how April's doing in school!)

(4) Johnston is moving away from a "comics" style art to more realistic art, and it's not IMO nearly as successful. She used to do little background and more freestyle drawing, like this (http://www.fborfw.com/timetravel/archives/001716.php) from 1981. Now she puts in a ton of background and tries to make the characters lifelike, like this (http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/002163.php). I don't think Johnston draws "realistic" well enough for the change to be successful as opposed to distracting. Look at little Meredith in the last linked comic: Her face in the third panel? I'm sorry; that's just not an attractive child. And her proportions are all weird in the last panel -- her legs are drawn so big that if her thighs were proportional to her calves, her waist would be up where her armpits are. Johnston can't draw noses and she can't draw hands and feet -- and when she tries for a realistic style with characters having bizarre noses, hands, and feet, it looks strange and unattractive. If you're going to draw comics, then people can have enormous noses or no nose at all, and hands with three fingers on them. But if you're drawing realistic representations, then a person with three fingers looks like they've been in a farming accident.

I think the bottom line is that I used to relate to these characters and I don't anymore. I used to read about Mike and Elizabeth scrapping and think, "that's just like my sister and brother and me." I used to see Elly trying to do a good job at work and be a mom and think, "I bet my mom deals with that too." I used to watch them deciding who has to walk the dog, and who's cooking dinner, and how the kids are getting to practice and think, "that's just like our house." Now? Will Elizabeth end up with Anthony or Paul?? Will Grandpa Jim regain the power of speech?? Turn in next week!"

More and more, it's a soap opera. It's Mary Worth. And I've never liked Mary Worth; it bores me.

Jeez, quite the long dissertation on a comic strip! I trust my geekery is hereby inarguably established. :)

gazpacho
11-30-2006, 11:46 AM
You forgot the real reason to hate For Better Or For Worse. Liz is probably going to get married off to Anthony, The Lamest Man in Canada.

Eonwe
11-30-2006, 11:57 AM
I'm totally in agreement with the OP.

I didn't start reading the strip until I was in high school or thereabouts ('94). I enjoyed it, felt like I got the characters, and was oddly compelled by the realness of the strip (how many 14 year old guys would try to catch FBoFW daily?).

Recently (well, really, since folks started graduating high school, splitting up the family as referenced in point (1)) I just don't feel interested in what's going on. Everything is too spread out, and the stories are either full of drama or cutesy (again, as mentioned in the OP).

It's a shame to watch first-hand a good artist lose her edge.

Skywatcher
11-30-2006, 12:18 PM
I've been dreading the unnamed day in 2007 when Lynn Johnston has said the strip would end. (Although she seems to be backing off of that lately, and is now saying only that the characters will no longer age. See! That's how well I know this strip.) Sounds like the daily strips will end and be replaced with classic strips, but the Sunday strips will continue.

Jodi
11-30-2006, 12:25 PM
Don't even get me started on Anthony, who marries a woman who doesn't want children and then pressures her into having one -- and then he's the noble martyr for actually raising his own child and she's the heartless bitch for expectiing him to raise the child he wanted and she clearly didn't. Elizabeth's had the very handsome badboy, the helicopter pilot, and the police officer -- if she settles for the drip she went with back in high school, I'm going to be peeved. Way to let her spread her wings, Ms. Johnston, only to clip them right off.

Elizabeth should never have come back from the North.

teela brown
11-30-2006, 01:13 PM
Yeah, count me in the "Anthony is so not worthy" camp. He's a nice guy and all, but has zero in the sex appeal department.

Rhiannon8404
11-30-2006, 01:24 PM
I'm disappointed and frustrated, too.

I hate the Anthony character. He is a manipulative whiner. I actually thought Therese was right to leave him! She should have been smarter, though, and stayed on birth control until she did. I will be sick to my stomach if Elizabeth ends up with him. She derserves and needs a man with a strong personality to match her own.

Rhiannon8404
11-30-2006, 01:26 PM
Oh, forgot to add. Stuff like today's and yesterday's strip: cutesy family type stuff are for Sundays, not the weekly strip.

Aunt Flow
11-30-2006, 04:59 PM
Oh noes! Baby's gotta go potty! The toilet's busted! Will it be the kitchen sink or the bathtub that will take one for the team? Stay tuned!

Whatever...I still read it out of habit. I too have kinda gone wtf with all the seriousness and then silliness. She'll stay on a storyline long enough to get you interested but not long enough to wrap it up and then she'll jump somewhere else. Frustrating.

jayjay
11-30-2006, 05:20 PM
Yeah, count me in the "Anthony is so not worthy" camp. He's a nice guy and all, but has zero in the sex appeal department.

Actually, Anthony's not a nice guy. He's a Nice Guy.

Snooooopy
11-30-2006, 05:31 PM
Perhaps Anthony could fall into desperate circumstances, try to knock over a liquor store and get shot by Paul!

zagloba
11-30-2006, 06:54 PM
And who needs the blinking eyes in the online strips? Once I had an adblocker installed that resulted in the strips being invisible except for the blinking eyes.

Rilchiam
12-18-2006, 11:46 PM
Looks like it's about to get interesting... (http://news.yahoo.com/comics/forbetterorforworse;_ylt=Avu8l4HBw6kEhZt3qOWpwzPe7isC;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl)

Rhiannon8404
12-19-2006, 12:10 AM
Well, hopefully it's not the real deal, just a scare. I cannot handle another tragedy so soon after the Grandpa having his stroke.

Little Nemo
12-19-2006, 12:32 AM
No, my guess is that there'll be a fire. The house will burn. There will be some cliffhanger strips where it looks like somebody died but nobody will be injured. Michael's manuscript will be lost in the fire but he'll realize the important things in his life are the peiople in it. Probably using those exact words.

Bonus points if one of the kids started the fire but usually Johnson would run several strips of them playing with matches to foreshadow something like that.

Lsura
12-19-2006, 05:45 AM
Bonus points if one of the kids started the fire but usually Johnson would run several strips of them playing with matches to foreshadow something like that.


Nah, it's going to be the cigar smoking guy downstairs. Lovey will lose the house, Michael the manuscript (hello! why are you typing it? Do it on the computer, save to a flash drive and keep that with you), but everyone will be fine. Including the obnoxious neighbors downstairs - BUT they'll try to sue Lovey for some reaon or other.

Chanteuse
12-19-2006, 05:52 AM
No, my guess is that there'll be a fire. The house will burn. There will be some cliffhanger strips where it looks like somebody died but nobody will be injured. Michael's manuscript will be lost in the fire but he'll realize the important things in his life are the peiople in it. Probably using those exact words.

Bonus points if one of the kids started the fire but usually Johnson would run several strips of them playing with matches to foreshadow something like that.

I'm wondering if she's going to lay this one on the Kelpfroths downstairs. Last year, LJ made a biggish deal out of his smoking cigars, but nothing much was done about it. Perhaps the fire is going to be started by a smoldering cigar butt.

Rilchiam
12-19-2006, 06:06 AM
Michael the manuscript (hello! why are you typing it? Do it on the computer, save to a flash drive and keep that with you)

Okay, this is something that aggravates me about FBOFW. The almost complete lack of any kind of continuity.

Mike was writing his novel on the computer. We've seen him at that computer many times. But at this crucial moment, we see him with a hard copy...why? Just so the manuscript can be something tangible? A minute earlier, he was using a laptop, which is much easier to carry while fleeing a burning building. Still, it'll be the unwieldy manuscript that Mike will have to either risk his life for or sacrifice.

And there are so many discrepancies like that. Robin is two years old, but still sleeps in a crib. Meredith was being fed by hand when she was three. Becky's crew is apparently so incompetent that they don't do a sound check, and instead of ripping them a new one, she blames herself for a bad performance. Jim has a stroke, and all that's wrong with him now is that he can't talk; no one mentions his right side being better than his left or anything like that. And certainly his equally elderly wife is capable of being his sole caregiver. She just needs a hug now and then. Mike and Deanna both work full-time, plus whatever Mike's freelancing brings in, but they're so dirt poor they can't afford to live in a decent apartment instead of a firetrap. Mike raised heaven and earth to get his dumb doll back, then failed to notice when Merrie immediately flushed it down the toilet. And so forth.

And why does this building apparently lack smoke alarms?

Rilchiam
12-19-2006, 06:08 AM
Er, that would be either moved heaven and earth, or raised hell.

DeadlyAccurate
12-19-2006, 10:20 AM
Nah, it's going to be the cigar smoking guy downstairs. Lovey will lose the house, Michael the manuscript (hello! why are you typing it? Do it on the computer, save to a flash drive and keep that with you), but everyone will be fine. Including the obnoxious neighbors downstairs - BUT they'll try to sue Lovey for some reaon or other.

If you ever see me printing out an entire manuscript, it's because I'm about to mail it off to an agent. I would never print an entire manuscript at once. Why should I? I can only edit so much at a time, and I might decide to make drastic changes to later scenes based on my edits. And if he just finished his first manuscript, he's a long damn way from being ready to mail it to anybody.

Ponder Stibbons
12-19-2006, 10:33 AM
If you ever see me printing out an entire manuscript, it's because I'm about to mail it off to an agent. I would never print an entire manuscript at once. Why should I? I can only edit so much at a time, and I might decide to make drastic changes to later scenes based on my edits. And if he just finished his first manuscript, he's a long damn way from being ready to mail it to anybody.Well, I could give him a pass on that. Some people -- myself included -- find it easier sometimes to print something out that you KNOW is going to need extensive editing. I settle down with some colored pens and make notes in the margins. But if this is going to be used as a plot device where Michael risks his life to retrieve the manuscript, but completely forgets about the computer, I'm going to be mildly peeved.

PS: I'm also convinced it's going to be the fault of the cigar smoking moron downstairs, and that they'll end up suing the landlord just because. I actually kind of like the people downstairs, in a "characters you love to hate" sort of way.

Papermache Prince
12-19-2006, 10:44 AM
As someone on the Usenet group rec.arts.comics.strips pointed out, why didn't he have a copy offsite? The least he could have done was email it to himself.

Random
12-19-2006, 11:39 AM
All good points. It's also great plot device to get all the kids back at the house for Christmas.

Schuyler
12-19-2006, 03:46 PM
I hear you about the declining quality, but (like you) I still check in every day.

The way I would articulate my critisism is twofold:

1. She spends less time on each story arc (as you mentioned). For example, I have the Farley-death arc spread out on my desk, and Johnston spent 18 dailies and 3 Sundays on it (am I missing any). Now, Grandpa has a stroke and it's off-again, on-again while she tries to get caught up with other story lines.

2. She is more preachy. Rather than letting the characters speak for themselves, or for the lessons to evolve over the course of several strips, now it's more obvious what she considers the "right answer" to be. There is still depth to be had - I liked the early strips with Shannon, but there's also some jerking us around - do we really not know that sexual assualt is icky?

Snooooopy
12-19-2006, 04:10 PM
I'm still waiting for Kortney to emerge from whatever black hole she was sucked into so that her lawsuit can play out.

pbbth
12-19-2006, 10:22 PM
Personally I think the whole having characters who age thing has caught up with her. Instead of it being a comic about Elly and how her family affects her it is a comic about Elly and Michael and Liz and April and Iris and everyone else. It doesn't have a central focus. Also, I think she may be getting bored with it now. Hell, I am not interested enough in my own family to write about them every day, let alone a family that I made up!

Aunt Flow
12-19-2006, 11:41 PM
Looks like it's about to get interesting... (http://news.yahoo.com/comics/forbetterorforworse;_ylt=Avu8l4HBw6kEhZt3qOWpwzPe7isC;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl)

On a complete side note....Who do they get to color that strip? Joe the Janitor? It's horrid.

susan
12-20-2006, 12:11 AM
I'd have stopped reading it some time ago but by the time I register that I'm reading it, I've already read it. I have the same problem with Garfield and Baby Blues--I try to avoid them but they leap into my eyes as I desperately try to get from Dilbert to Doonsbury without scanning the page in between.

kaylasdad99
12-20-2006, 12:33 AM
Since I stopped taking a bus to work, I no longer get the paper every day. The strips I do read are Pibgorn, 9 Chickweed lLane, Candorville, Captain Murphey, Frazz, Geech, Get Fuzzy, Opus, Pearls Before Swine, and Rudy Park ('cos they're all on comics.com). The only time I catch up with FBOFW is when a Doper links to it in CS. When this thread sinks off page 1, I'll lose touch again.

What happened with the eviction notice Lovey gave the downstairs neighbors?

Evidently they do have a smoke alarm, btw. But why put the baby's boots on before evacuating the building?

Rilchiam
12-20-2006, 01:04 AM
What happened with the eviction notice Lovey gave the downstairs neighbors?

They found some kind of loophole. According to Lovey, "They have so many rights. :tsk: It's just not right!"

Evidently they do have a smoke alarm, btw. But why put the baby's boots on before evacuating the building?

Listen, you don't know Deanna. After she gets the kids into full winter gear, she'll have to pack a suitcase, make peanut butter sandwiches, and have everyone visit the powder room. You can't just rush out of a house willy-nilly; you have to plan.