End of Marriage Leads to New Content in Revamped Strip

By Astor, Dave | Editor & Publisher, September 7, 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

End of Marriage Leads to New Content in Revamped Strip


Astor, Dave, Editor & Publisher


As "For Better or For Worse" moved into "hybrid" mode this week with a look back at how Elly and John Patterson met, few readers of Lynn Johnston's partly autobiographical comic knew that her real-life husband left her this April.

The news that Rod Johnston had met someone else was a devastating shock to Lynn, whose millions of fans thought her long marriage -- like the long marriage of Elly and John -- was "storybook" in nature. "It shows our family was as vulnerable as anyone," she said during a phone interview with E&P.

But there's a silver lining of sorts in the breakup of the marriage, which will probably officially end in divorce next April. Johnston, who's feeling much better about the separation than she did this spring, has been devoting more time to her hybrid comic than initially planned. And she intends to continue doing so -- meaning there'll be more "new" in the new-old "FBorFW" than anyone could have expected.

"The sudden change in my life has given me a lot more need to focus on my work," said Johnston, who noted that one reason she had wanted to stop doing "FBorFW" was to share retirement with Rod, who had ended his career as a dentist.

Indeed, Johnston, 60, had originally wanted to halt "FBorFW" completely. Universal Press Syndicate -- which distributes the 1979-launched comic to more than 2,000 newspapers -- then suggested that the comic go into reruns (a la "Peanuts"). Johnston countered with the hybrid idea, because she wanted to give newspapers and readers at least some new material. "And I love a challenge," she said.

The hybrid "FBorFW" will still contain some material directly culled from the comic's earlier years, giving Johnston the time to travel more and do other things with her life that would be hard to do if she continued creating seven completely new "FBorFW" strips each week. But, with the separation as partial impetus, the fresh content will be plentiful.

For instance, Johnston plans to do many (though not all) future Sunday comics from scratch. Around the time of the phone interview with E&P, Johnston was enthusiastically working on the Nov. 25 strip showing Deanna (the wife of Elly and John's son Michael) dressing her children. "I'm having a wonderful time drawing the body language," she said.

Also, much of this week's flashback material about Elly and John meeting was newly drawn and newly written. (The cartoonist said she initially had a lot of trouble drawing John after Rod left her real-life marriage, but finally the "spell was broken" and she was able to do it.) But Johnston will also use some old "FBorFW" material that's not redrawn in future strips.

Johnston said she's not that pleased with her early "FBorFW" art. "It could have been better," she observed. "I had two kids and was very busy, so I had to do things more quickly." But Johnston does like her early writing in the comic -- and has enjoyed looking back to when Michael and his sister Elizabeth were young.

"Those were some of the funniest strips," said the Canadian creator, a 1994 Pulitzer Prize finalist and the first woman to win the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award as cartoonist of the year..

Johnston has already frozen her characters in time (they'll no long age), but she'll continue to resolve certain things in the strip into next year. One of these things is the renewed relationship between Elizabeth and her high-school sweetheart Anthony.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

End of Marriage Leads to New Content in Revamped Strip
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?