Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Last Mile For Better or For Worse

An ending and a new beginning, thats what Lynn Johnston has envisaged from September 1st as her comic strip, for better or for worse finally comes to a conclusion and she revisits her earlier strips in a retelling of the life and times of her characters. I read the last few strips and was both happy and sad, grieved yet satisfied and wished that Lynn would continue on to perpetuity with her strip as her readers have come to love. The characters in For Better or For Worse (FBOFW) revolves around the family of the Pattersons, mirrored Lynn's own early days as a wife, mother and carrierist, and with them their community and friends. From the start it was decided that the strip will evolve, that the characters will not remain static, things change and through the years as with its title, for better or for worse. Yet it works, the daily antics and life her characters undergo is so similar to real life, mirroring every foibles from work, studies, parenting, social issues, raising a teenager, having pets to more serious problems such as life as a gay, bullying, special need groups, ingeniousness groups, death, etc that many of us, including me have come to relate and emphatise with the characters.

Begining with Elly and John Patterson the newly married couple with children Mike, Elizabeth and later April as well as three dogs (Farley, Edgar and Sarah), two rabbits (Mr B and Buttercup) and a cat (Shimsa), soon took a life on its own as the couple grew old, the children grew from being kids to teenagers (along with all the associated angst) and finally marrying adults. Readers took into their heart as events unfold with the death of Farley their family dog who saved April from drowning, Elly's mom passing away and later of her dad's stroke. We saw the heartbreaks as both Mike and Elizabeth got in and out of relationships before settling on their respective life partners, of loosing touch with old friends and meeting new people, of careers and choices one makes in their course of their lives, as well as their consequences, all of which has repurcussions on the story and characters. The dynamic flow of the story and its characters are one of the charm that Lynn has brought to the readers over a career spanning nearly 30 years.

With the last strip, Lynn has tied up all the loose ends of the characters story culminating in the joining of Elizabeth and her long time friend Anthony, both of whom had their own troubles in their relationship. As Lynn is returning to the roots by revisiting her old strips is is as good a time for new readers to follow the story of the Pattersons and for old time fans to look back and appreciate the intricacy and complexity of a strip that defies convention and dared to cross the border of comicdom to become something more. In the end we all felt we are part of the Pattersons, I myself once saw parallels to Mike, of wanting to venture in a career in journalism, of meeting the right person in life.

So if you have time, take a moment to visit the site, unlike other comic that disallow their strips to be shown to the public or for only a brief period of time, Lynn's comics are posted online for readers to view as far back as 2001. I always believe that if one's work is good enough there is no fear that people will not appreciate it. After reading her strips I have her entire book collection and this was spurred by her online archive. It goes to show share and recieve in return. Truly Lynn has shared the tale of this amazing family with us and we all have gotten something back from the Pattersons. So to this family, thank you for being a part of our lives and to the lives of those of us to come. Goodbye for now.

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