Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"For Better or For Worse" Comic Strip Ending

I saw this headline on the yahoo page:

My first thought was, "Holy crap, is 'For Better or For Worse' still around? Who reads that?" My second thought was, "Well, I guess I'm intrigued by the 'original' way the creator, is going to end it. One of the reasons I never really liked it was because it seemed to be painfully lacking in the 'originality' department." So I clicked through to the actual article.

And learned that there's nothing "original" about this "end." In fact, this is the opposite of originality. She's actually going to- well, here's the dispiriting thing that the article says,

She announced this month that she would retell her strip's narrative, beginning Monday, by taking her continually aging characters back to 1979, but creating new artwork and some dialogue. Her syndicate says it's the first time a mainstream cartoonist has set out to tell the same story twice.

But it's "worse" than that. Apparently, she's been running on fumes for years now:

For years, the "For Better or for Worse" creator mulled retirement, then lightened her workload by creating flashbacks and repurposing the archives of her popular comic.

Lots of cartoonists take vacations from time to time. I think Garry Trudeau was the first to do it, and Bill Watterson and I believe Gary Larson took vacations from their (brilliant) comics, during which time editors would run reprints. But they came back and created all new material, didn't "repurpose" their archives so that they could run on fumes.

Space on a comics page is limited. Lynn Johnston had her time. Too much time. This comic, which was much more "worse" than "better," has been around for 29 years.(!) I sincerely hope that most editors drop this strip and give the space to someone else, with fresh ideas.

But the comics pages are meant to be stable, not fresh. The least she could do is turn it over to one of her children.

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