For Better or For Worse, For Better or For Worse...

On August 31st, 2008 one of the best comic strips in syndication came to an end. After almost thirty years of laughs, tears, and a controversy here and there, Lynn Johnson decided to end her opus "For Better or For Worse." Strange how it all feels so unreal. I know that the comic strip has come under lots of controversy recently. People say it's not funny anymore. The puns are corny. The characters are too sentimental. The situations are unrealistic. And I'm saying YES! It's true, it's ALL true! And yet I love this strip. I think a lot of other people do too, even the whiners. Why else would they spend every day reading it? The series has gone off with the wedding of Elizabeth and Anthony, as well as an epilogue to what happens to most of the major characters (minor characters like Laurence and Justin don't get a mention).

While at the wedding though Lizard Breath finds out that her Grandpa Jim is in the hospital having troubles with his heart. So no sooner does she get married then she and her new husband leave for the hospital. As you can imagine none of this is very funny, just overly corny. But you know what? That's why we read the strip now. It was funny years ago, but now the style of the strip has changed. We like this change because as the characters do so does the story. It's also the only comic in the paper where the characters are the least bit interesting. Then for the final strip Iris, Jim's second wife, gives a great speech that brings the story full circle. Now what some people may be wondering is why wasn't the comic strips protagonist Elly Patterson giving this speech?

After all she was there at the beginning all the way to the end, shouldn't she say the final words? I admit it would have been nice. But ultimately that would have been too predictable...even for this series. Having Iris say the speech was a much smarter move. Not only is she (in some way) the newest character in this series, but she became an important figure in the Patterson's lives. She's now gives the advice that other characters used to give, and that privilege gives her the right to the closing speech. To top it off though there is a wonderful epilogue that shows where everyone winds up. It's a great ending to a great comic. Yes, part of me is sad that it's ending. I was hoping to watch the third generation grow up, and I was hoping Lynn could have tackled at least one more "serious" storyline (in this day and age, having teenage April get pregnant would have made the most sense).

But overall I'm happy with the story. I'm happy with the series. I'm happy it was given an ending that let it go with dignity and respect. I want to dig out all my FBOFW books right now and read them from beginning to end. And you know when Lynn releases the "complete" book collections I'll be there to buy them. This series, I consider, to be one of the epic graphic novels of our time, where the story structure is so deep it can be revisited every few years with new experiences. That's why I'm so frustrated that Lynn is reprinting some of the original strips and "Lucasfying" them. That's like admitting there's something wrong with them. There isn't...though this is a subject for a different day. For now though I say thank you Lynn for this wonderful strip throughout the years. And for better or for worse, I'll be revisiting it for many years to come.

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