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Marie-Thérèse will have her revenge on Milborough
August 30, 2008 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Two kids. Dentist husband. New kid. Gay guy. Dead dog. Not-So-Secret wedding. Successful writer. First Nations. Another wedding. For Better. For Worse.
posted by infinitewindow (56 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was very sweet, thanks. (context, for those who need it)
posted by jessamyn at 10:10 AM on August 30, 2008


Aww.
posted by woodway at 10:20 AM on August 30, 2008


I would have enjoyed the ending a lot more if it had involved a U.S. plane dropping a bomb on the wedding by "accident".
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:25 AM on August 30, 2008 [9 favorites]


Really well done post. Not well done ending.
posted by josher71 at 10:26 AM on August 30, 2008


I haven't been following it for a couple of years, but I grew up with this strip. My mom and I would compare thoughts on each morning's strip, until I moved out of the house. I didn't much care for or about what was going on these last few years, but I have to give Johnston props for longevity and dedication.

Anthony is a weiner. Yeah, I said it.
posted by everichon at 10:28 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Crazy to believe it is over, I have "grown up" with the kids in the strip and my mom cutting out the strips on a regular basis and hanging them on the fridge.
posted by sararah at 10:34 AM on August 30, 2008


No more foobs?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:35 AM on August 30, 2008


Thanks, josher71.

FWIW, the comic strip (which I still have a soft spot for in spite of things like "roadside") is going to reboot a bit and become about Mike and Deanna's family. I was too young to remember when it came out, but from the collections, it was a lot better back in the day when it was mostly about kids and young parents and the crazy things they all do.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:35 AM on August 30, 2008


* startled eyes *
posted by everichon at 10:38 AM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Foob's Paradise is well worth a look even though the layout makes it a bit awkward to read through.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:39 AM on August 30, 2008


I remember reading the strip where Farley died while eating lunch at my desk at work and starting to cry. Someone asked me what was wrong and I was too embarrassed to explain.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:48 AM on August 30, 2008


I agree with Josher71. Lame ending to such a long-running storyline. Good summary post, though.
posted by woodway at 10:52 AM on August 30, 2008


Lame ending to such a long-running storyline.

It's been interesting to watch the reaction to the last couple years of the strip; Johnston has sort of (in the eyes of a some of the long-time readers I've seen commenting on it, thanks in no small part to, as always, Comics Curmudgeon) been cranking out a Great Lame-ening for a while now, with Liz being steered down this path of acquiescence toward her unavoidable fate as Anthony's bride.
posted by cortex at 10:56 AM on August 30, 2008


Disappointed that the storyline was cut off before its proper end: Anthony slowly asphyxiating in a collapsed mine just after leaving the doctor's office where he's learned that he has always been impotent and thus that his kid is someone else's.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 11:07 AM on August 30, 2008 [10 favorites]


This strip has always had a special meaning for us, our youngest was born the same time as April. Yes, it's not been as good in the last years as it was before, but other strips have gone on long after the creator stop caring (or living, in some cases).
posted by tommasz at 11:10 AM on August 30, 2008


That'd be more of a Funky Winkerbean move, ten pounds.
posted by cortex at 11:13 AM on August 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


I didn't know people besides my mother-in-law actually enjoyed FBoFW.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:18 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I lost interest around the time the strip lost Paul, which was also around the time I read about Johnston's actual life. It's pitiful when you realize she's inventing a happy family life from whole cloth, because she never had one. God forbid Elizabeth marry the hot, interesting man First Nations guy from up north. She has to go home and marry the milk-and-water boy next door, because that's how happy families are made, right? Right?

I don't generally accuse creators of trying to mirror their home lives, but she did name the characters after her husband and son, respectively; they haven't done quite so well for her as their counterparts, whose behavior has become the more sugary in comparison.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:23 AM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't look at the comics page very often, but that strip has always stood out to me as a beacon of intelligence on a page of dullness (like The Far Side used to be).

I think it would take a lot of courage to do a "reboot," and I'll be watching it over the next few weeks to see how it changes.
posted by Forktine at 11:26 AM on August 30, 2008


When I was a kid, I really enjoyed the Bob Hope specials. I'd know for weeks ahead of time when one would be on, and I'd plan out my schedule to watch it, from the opening monologue to the closing rendition of "Thanks for the Memories".

But at some point, Bob's jokes just weren't that funny anymore, his guests were kind of cheesy and has-been, and I had other things to do that were more interesting than parking my ass in front of the TV at 8pm. If I was around at five to nine, I'd still listen to "Thanks for the Memories", but....

And that's I guess how I feel about FBoW. It's a comic I used to read, though not avidly, and that I haven't thought about at all in the last decade.
posted by orthogonality at 11:30 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great post title, infinitewindow.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:31 AM on August 30, 2008


The sad news is not the end of the strip, which overall had a very good run, but that it will continue to clog the funny pages for years to come in rerun limbo. 2/3 of the strips out there should be removed and make room for new talent.
posted by furtive at 11:37 AM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Cool post.
I used to read FBoFW all the time, but fell off in recent years. I remember stumbling upon it one day on the internet and spent a while catching up on the family and all that had happened since I last read it. It was truly unique in that the characters aged and also how Lynn Johnston shared so much of her personal life with her readers.
posted by NoraCharles at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2008


I think she's going to be doing some new strips and some old strips from now on. Here's an interview with her on YouTube.
posted by bluefly at 12:00 PM on August 30, 2008


"It's not goatse again is it?"
posted by Rhomboid at 12:05 PM on August 30, 2008 [14 favorites]


That'd be more of a Funky Winkerbean move, ten pounds.

If it was FW, the marching band trip ends with the plane crashing into the side of a mountain, and Dinkle has to resort to cannabalism to survive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:16 PM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I feel like they are really giving April the short end of the stick with this ending.
posted by josher71 at 12:20 PM on August 30, 2008


Na, na, April ends up with a fine-looking stud. She gets the best deal of any of them.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:30 PM on August 30, 2008


Wow. I find myself wondering what The Toronto Star is going to do with half of the front page of their comics section now. It's like when Calvin and Hobbes ended.
posted by tehloki at 1:30 PM on August 30, 2008


It's like when Calvin and Hobbes ended.
TAKE THAT BACK RIGHT NOW.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:31 PM on August 30, 2008 [12 favorites]


I am reading this thread in Canada, while defecating (no joke*).

"For Better or For Worse" was shitty and involved Canada.

So full circle for this reader, Ms. Johnston! Well played!

* I am in a hotel room in Quebec City and indeed reading Metafilter on the toilet because we didn't pack any magazines! Hi everybody!
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:47 PM on August 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Lynn Johnston has announced that she's now going to go back and do "new" (or partly new, partly old, it's not entirely clear) strips that replay the entire story over again, going all the way back to 1979. It's like "Groundhog Day," without the Bill Murray, without the Harold Ramis, and without the funny.
posted by blucevalo at 1:59 PM on August 30, 2008


This was one of the comics you always skipped over because they weren't funny- like Mary Worth and Family Circle (or was it Circus?).
posted by Zambrano at 1:59 PM on August 30, 2008


What Countess Elena and orthogonality said. I used to like it, but man, did it go downhill. And I was glad it was over, until I read:

For Better or For Worse begins again on September the 1st with new material...

To quote Rambo: IT'S NOT OVER! IT'S NEVER OVER!!
posted by languagehat at 2:18 PM on August 30, 2008


It turns out that if you actually read Mary Worth, it's pretty goddam funny in its own way.

Like Toby, the vapid Mary-padawan trophy wife of the local Silverback Chinbeard? Currently having the slowest, lamest struggle with internet fraud/identity theft you could ever hope to read in serial installments of stilted three-panel soap operatics. And there's that time that Mary jilted an obsessive suitor so firmly that he got drunk and drove off a cliff to his death.

Don't write off Mary Worth.
posted by cortex at 2:48 PM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Good bye and good riddance. The ending seemed like a fairly obvious passive-aggressive jab at her ex-husband. And I'm still bitter that Elizabeth married Blandthony.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:50 PM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The interview Countess Elena linked is amazing. I think I respect Johnston a bit more now, but I still can't get past my bitterness about Elizabeth leaving what seemed like a really interesting life up North (and a badly needed mainstream depiction of First Nations life that wasn't about squalid conditions on reserves and drug addiction). And then there's the other complaint about steering April away from the horrible exploitive life of a musician to the safety of veterinary school, and, no doubt, another Patterson marriage to a high-school love interest. Anb the smearing of Marie-Therese, and so on. The series really lost me in the last few years, and I'm not alone.

But she survived a brutal childhood and a bad marriage through art, which is admirable.
I was very reclusive. I spent hours and hours in my room drawing. That was my release, and that was my way of surviving. You see, anything I imagined, I could draw. And I found that if I was in a terrible depression and I closed my eyes, the blackness would appear to go on forever. But if I put it down on paper, it was no bigger than 8 1/2 by 11, and I could deal with that. If you have a horror inside of you, it goes down to your marrow. But on paper, it’s not so bad.
posted by jokeefe at 4:15 PM on August 30, 2008


It's much harder to defend this strip than it used to be. I grew up with it, and when I took a geeky interest in the history of comic strips and started delving into their history, it was one of the handful of "modern" comics that could still hold my respect. But seeing ol' Liz marry this hopeless dork and have it presented as a happy ending makes me want to puke a little.
posted by the bricabrac man at 4:17 PM on August 30, 2008


Also, she sounds just a tiny bit crazy in that youtube interview.
posted by the bricabrac man at 4:25 PM on August 30, 2008


I thought a First Nations marriage was the way to go, and I was totally behind Elizabeth's first mature love up North, but it ended in heartbreak: we find love & marry within our own ranks, from childhood? What the heck of message is that? She got over it way too quickly. Leaving grandpa on his deathbed annoys me, too. If you're going for closure, give us a genuine narrative ending. We don't get that; the Saturday ending isn't a full stop. Still, I think readers deserve better that than Iris voicing some lame platitude.
posted by woodway at 6:36 PM on August 30, 2008


Going to quote from Wiki here:

In 1993, Lawrence Poirier's coming out generated controversy, with readers opposed to homosexuality threatening to cancel newspaper subscriptions. Over 100 newspapers ran replacement strips or canceled the comic. Three years later Lawrence introduced his boyfriend, giving rise to another, though smaller, uproar.

I was in high school, struggling with my own sexuality when Lawrence came out, and seeing that storyline meant the world to me at the time.
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:43 PM on August 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


jokeefe brings up two good points: one, that Countess Elena's link was fantastic, and two, that the human psyche is wired to survive at any cost, and those costs don't always reveal themselves until much, much later.

It's tempting to say that Johnston made FBoFW increasingly saccharine as a way of coping with her real-life dysfunctional marriage. I think there's more to it than that—a lot more—but it's entirely an intuition on my part, based partially on jokeefe's pull-quote. The "daughter-marries-hometown-boy-and-lives-down-the-street-completing-the-circle" ending takes on much darker undertones after reading about Johnston's struggles with the cycle of childhood abuse.

Plate of beans, anyone?
posted by infinitewindow at 6:54 PM on August 30, 2008


I remember reading the strip where Farley died while eating lunch at my desk at work and starting to cry

I can't remember what I was doing that day, but Farley dying was brutal.

I was in high school, struggling with my own sexuality when Lawrence came out, and seeing that storyline meant the world to me at the time.

Me too. It was an important thing to see.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:29 PM on August 30, 2008


This seems to be a good opportunity to link to Shaenon K. Garrity's excellent (and quite funny) essay detailing why FBoFW's Anthony is so loathed. To sum up: he basically adheres to a lot of tired and irritating character and story tropes that can really rub readers, particularly female readers, the wrong way.

It's a shame that the strip isn't really properly ending. It seems like there haven't been many comic strips where the creators decided to bow out on a high note, instead of letting things shamble along in increasing mediocrity, until they're only a shadow of their former selves. The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes are the only two that come to mind. I guess that it can be daunting for creators to try a new project after a successful one. Probably more so in the world of newspaper comics, because there is very little space available for new strips. Of course, part of the reason for this lack of space is because of the existence of all these zombie strips.
posted by kosher_jenny at 8:31 PM on August 30, 2008


I was rather annoyed that we didn't get to see Lawrence formally married and I think it's shitty it's implied that Grandpa dies the day Elizabeth ties the knot (gah, Anthony! Warren made the grand gesture of coming to her graduation in his helicopter after we'd seen Eric being smegma).
posted by brujita at 8:39 PM on August 30, 2008


from the Shaenon K. Garrity link: "Anthony represents the death of youthful dreams." Which to me, makes him marrying Elizabeth to be the PERFECT way to end FBoFW. And Grandpa does NOT die; he simply becomes less able to take care of himself and more a burden to Grandma. Which is also a PERFECT way to end, with Iris pointing out to the newlyweds that it is "For Better of For Worse" while living unhappily ever after.

It's all so appropriate, because For Better was always so much more about the For Worse. As much as Lynn Johnson tried to counter her own traumas and tragedies with a sugarcoated banality, she revealed the banality as traumatic and tragic too. An ending that was all about "settling" and "coping" fit this particular comic perfectly.

And who knows how many Americans she discouraged from relocating to Canada out of fear they might live next door that family - or even worse, become that family.
posted by wendell at 10:03 PM on August 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


I still have trouble believing, after discovering it via the Internet, that this comic strip, of all things, has such a devoted, minutiae-obsessed, Star Trek-like fanbase. It's like discovering that there's a world sanctioning body for championship booger eating.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:08 PM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anthony = YUCK. Every time I saw a strip with him in it, I cringed. I was rooting for Paul.

I am sorry that the strip ended the way it did. As others have noted, it has been a bit tired the last 2 years or so.

That being said, I did enjoy FBOFW for many years.
posted by msjen at 11:31 PM on August 30, 2008


I just read "Remembering Farley" again on the FBOFW website and I'll admit that I cried one more time.
posted by josher71 at 7:49 AM on August 31, 2008


I'm with Roger Akroyd on this one; reading about Lawrence as a 13-yo made me think that it might actually be OK that I was gay and that my life would go on.
posted by pantsonsteven at 8:04 AM on August 31, 2008


Epilogue
posted by zarah at 8:24 AM on August 31, 2008


I still have trouble believing that Star Trek, of all things, has such a devoted, minutiae-obsessed, Star-Trek-like fanbase.
posted by decagon at 9:41 AM on August 31, 2008


Oh, jayzus, that epilogue is terrible. "Deanna worked as a pharmacist until she began a small sewing school." Are you fuckin' kidding me?
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 11:37 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think it's shitty it's implied that Grandpa dies the day Elizabeth ties the knot

She retconned that in today's strip.

The past few months of this have reminded me so much of The Funnies by J. Robert Lennon. The anxious desperation with which Lynn Johnston is projecting everything she so fiercely wants to be true in her own life onto Elly-Sue and the rest of the Patterfoobs...

I feel bad for her, I do. But I wish she would just BOXCAR retire already.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:06 PM on August 31, 2008


Honestly, 29 years? If I ever get my syndicated story-based comic off the ground, I'll start repeats after 10 or so.
posted by graventy at 3:42 PM on September 1, 2008


She retconned that in today's strip.


Okay....let me amend that to I think it's shitty that she gave Grandpa a medical crisis the day of the wedding. We'd been seeing for months how miserable he was after the second stroke and how difficult it was for Iris (what happens after he dies? does she remain isolated or does she find a circle of friends?)
posted by brujita at 10:47 PM on September 3, 2008


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