"For Better or For Worse" will start turning into a "hybrid" strip this Monday, Universal Press Syndicate announced today.
It has been known since last winter (see story below) that Lynn Johnston's popular comic would begin mixing old and new material next month, but the exact date hadn't been announced until now.
According to Universal, the strip's Michael Patterson character this Monday will look through a photo album with his 5-year-old daughter Meredith and start retelling his family's story by recounting the courtship of his parents, John and Elly -- two of the central characters in the 1979-launched comic.
Using a combination of new, old, and retouched work, Johnston will offer scenes such as Elly reading in a college library and catching the eye of the young dental student who eventually becomes her husband.
"This was an opportunity to give my readers new material, as well as my being able to pick and choose through the original art and make it different," said Johnston, whose comic runs in more than 2,000 newspapers.
The strip's current storyline will be mixed with Michael's remembrances until it gradually reaches a closing stage sometime early next year. When that happens, characters will stop aging. In the meantime, Johnston is still exploring the renewed relationship between Elizabeth (Michael's sister) and old high school flame Anthony.
Here's E&P's Jan. 8, 2007, story about Johnston's intent to revamp "For Better or For Worse":
Popular Cartoon Will Stay On -- As Old/New Hybrid
By Dave Astor
Millions of readers will breathe a partial sigh of relief when they learn that Lynn Johnston won't completely end "For Better or For Worse" around the time it turns 28 this September. Instead, the strip will continue as an old/new hybrid that has little precedent in cartoon history.
"I'll be flying by the seat of my eraser," joked Johnston, whose comic is one of only five with more than 2,000 newspapers. Details were still being worked out when Johnston spoke to E&P, but it's possible the hybrid "FBorFW" will focus a lot on Michael Patterson and his family, who are about the same ages Elly Patterson and her family were when the comic started in 1979. Elly is the mother of Michael, who was a little boy in the early days of "FBorFW."
In the hybrid, many previously published "FBorFW" strips and scenes will be reprinted. The jumping-off point for those comics (which could include some redrawn and recolorized content) might be Michael looking at old photos or scrapbooks.
Johnston will also offer a certain amount of new material about Michael; his sisters, Elizabeth and April; his parents, Elly and John; and various other major and supporting characters. But one of the signature elements of "FBorFW" -- the gradual aging of its cast -- will come to a halt. "What I'd like to do is freeze the characters at the ages they are now," said Johnston, who turns 60 this May. "No people will grow older. No dogs will grow older and pass away."
The strip's creator was referring to Farley, the shaggy canine whose heroic 1995 death (after saving April from drowning) brought Johnston an avalanche of reader mail.
Actually, the aging of characters was not planned when "FBorFW" started in 1979. "I didn't intend for everybody to grow up," Johnston said. "They just did."
Why is the Canadian cartoonist opting for a hybrid approach, rather than ending "FBorFW" completely or passing the Universal Press Syndicate comic on to someone else? Johnston said if "FBorFW" were continued by another creator, she probably would keep looking over that person's shoulder. …