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Sunday unfunnies

I'll be honest, even though I had come to dislike the strip in the past few years, there's still a bit of me that felt a twinge about seeing this particular strip which ends the real time era of the strip.

As a Canadian who was the same age as oldest son Michael, and having a sister the same age as oldest sister Elizabeth, I couldn't help but feel a certain connection to the strip (it wasn't until much later that I realized the early strips were done by Lynn Johnston while she was living in Manitoba. ) As they grew up so did we. Even as their lives became less similar to my own I still regarded the strip with a certain amount of fondness. On a newspaper comics page where the only two other families at the time were banal Hi & Lois and the distastefully saccharine Family Circus, a strip that actually showed the characters living in a home that was often chaotic, messy, and having the parents at times make sarcastic jokes about how parenting is overrated are was a welcome breath of fresh air.

I think one of my favourite strips that I remember was a Sunday strip which had family dog Farley be mounted by Michael as if he was a motorcycle and just a series of puzzled expressions on the dog's face as Michael made vroom vroom noises. Not really funny per se, but a moment that I knew all too well as something I did with Sylver when I was about 9 or 10.

When I was a bit older, I actually felt a bit of pride for the strip for bringing one of its characters out of the closet. It was (and in some ways still is) a gutsy choice on Lynn's part.

However as time went on I'd get out of the habit of reading the local paper so I fell out out of the habit of following them. When I would come back, while the strips were more soap operatic, I still didn't really seem them as "bad" per se. It wasn't until reading the snark about them on the Comics Curmudgeon that I really began to realize just how maudlin and sentimental the strip has become.

I think this post by a Canadian woman around the same age as Liz over here does a good job of dissecting the unfortunate implications of the Liz/Anthony relationship that has taken over the strip. How it basically seems to be telling young women that going out and exploring the world isn't worth it. They should should just move back to their parents' neighbourhood and hook up with the boring guy and settle down and have kids. It seems like this is borne out of Johnston's own experiences (Her first marriage was to someone who was more cosmopolitan than her, and when they divorced, she moved back home to marry an old friend who was a dentist). It's a shame that she seemed unable to allow her character which is a stand in for her daughter in the strip have a different life from her own.

Still this need to re-visit her past in idealized form may have a perfect explanation in Lynn Johnston's own life: Her second husband, the one who's fictional analogue in the strip, filed for divorce last year.

Anyways, I do feel sad that the strip has declined to this point. It actually makes me appreciate Berke Breathed, (creator of Bloom County, Outland, and Opus) who keeps getting tired of doing a strip for newspapers and eventually cancels them for a few years befroe he gets lured back again.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
I haven't followed this comic strip in years, but maybe it's time to retire it altogether, or start something new. I always appreciated that the Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes both ended while they were still fairly fresh.

I just wish Bil Keane would take the hint and retire, and Jim Davis as well. I can't tell you how much the Family Circus is the bane of my existence. Freakin' dotted lines and specters of dead Grandparents lurking in the house!
Aug. 31st, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)

If you've never seen "War of the Gargantuas", you should probably pick this up or rent it. You get to see Academy Award nominated actor Russ Tamblyn sell out and make a total jerk of himself by being the token white man in a Japanese cast (but not surpassing the awesomeness of Nick Adams). You also get to hear probably the most horrible English language song ever featured in a Japanese movie. It was so fantastically weird that Devo covered it.
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
Oh wow. I've not seen FBOFW properly in years, but I did follow it once upon a time. I remember when Farley the dog died though, and the reaction that caused at the time. I'm slightly disappointed by what you say about Liz - at least April appears to have gone on her own path.

And yes, it was always far better than Hi and Lois and Family Circus - I can't believe the latter's still going (didn't realise that until I read tylerpistol's comment). Talk about way past the sell by date...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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