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January 8, 2007


Editor and Publisher: For Better Or For Worse To Stay On As Strip Hybrid

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Lynn Johnston deciding not to end her mega-popular For Better of For Worse outright in favor of continuing in some sort of form has been rumored and talked about in various places for months, but mostly in terms of a Classic Peanuts-type replacement for the feature, something that came after a formal conclusion to the Patterson family saga, not in terms of the feature merely shifting directions.

But a shift in content, it seems, is what the cartoonist plans, first freezing her cast at the age they are now, and then using old material in the flow of the strip -- the example given in the E&P piece was of a character looking in a family album and thinking back at which point the classic material takes over. The very upbeat article notes that Johnston's workload would become lighter not just for not having to do as many new strips but in losing the impetus to do research that came with generating series of fresh storylines.

This is of course major news in that 1) Johnston's strip is major news in and of itself, and 2) Johnston ending the strip outright would have meant 2000 some slots between the dailies and the Sundays, which would have afforded some strips an enormous chance to pick up clients. Last summer I overheard one syndicate person soliciting a pitch from a cartoonist along the lines of something that might replace Johnston's feature when that time came.

I'm sort of conflicted about the news as a fan and industry watcher. On the one hand, Johnston seems genuinely pleased by the direction, which is always nice, and you want to be supportive of that. Additionally, the 28-year run of FBoFW pretty much justifies her doing any darn thing she wants, even if it were panel after panel of Anthony kissing Elizabeth for six months after she brought everything else to a halt. On the other hand, I can't imagine the hybrid form unless very cleverly done will please fans in the same way -- there's a reason why television soap operas are judicious with using old footage -- and history has made me not a fan of strips, even great ones, sticking around on the comics page invested with anything less than the cartoonist's full commitment.

a sleepless night for Michael in 1980
 
posted 11:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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