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|Saturday, April 21st, 2018|
Monday, 23 April 2018
The battle between the girls in purple begins!
(Strip Number 1448, Original Publication Date, 24 April 1989)
Panel 1: Janet and Martha give each other the look that says, “We will never be friends again.” Michael looks like he is thinking, “How did I get out here?”
Panel 2: Mike gives Lawrence the look that says, “We will never be friends again,” but Lawrence gives him the palms out gesture that says, “It’s not my fault. She just attacked me and what was I supposed to do? I am innocent.” Both the girls look very happy.
Panel 3: Mike turns his back on Martha and puts his Patterson snoot in the air. Janet’s left hand which was on Michael’s shoulder in Panel 2 moves to Michael’s back as she draws him close. Martha looks fearfully at Michael as if she realized her tactic of making him jealous would never work, because he is a Patterson and Pattersons don’t do jealousy.
Panel 4: Elly arrives with Party Games, Pictionary, and Twister (no Pin the Tail on the Donkey?). All the kids drop their hands from dancing and Lawrence disappears with Martha’s arm still in place in the air from where she was holding him. Perhaps Lawrence is uncertain how Elly feels about interracial couples and does not want to push the issue.
Elly delivers the punchline, “Well! Would anybody like to play games?” Why is Elly really there?:
- She heard from John the kids were not dancing because the music was too soft, and so Elly thought, “Yay! It worked. Now for some real fun!”
- Lynn Johnston said to Elly, “You need to grab some party games and deliver that punchline. I don’t care if it makes no sense that you are doing this this late into the party.”
- With her pink dress on, Elly wants to show the colourist can actually put a woman in something other than purple.
- She wants to show her dexterity in holding 3 games with one hand and 1 game in another.
- While they are playing games, Elly will take the opportunity clean the popcorn mashed into the floor and check the punch to see if it’s been spiked.
- Elly sensed that if she didn’t intervene that there was probably going to be a fist fight… between Martha and Janet.
Summary: Lynn Johnston tests her ability to communicate a story via drawings only for 3 panels and then realizing she can’t do that, resorts to a verbal joke in the final panel.
|Friday, April 20th, 2018|
Sunday, 22 April 2018
Elly channels her inner Gene Kelly, except the part where he carries an umbrella.
(Strip Number 6742, Original Publication Date, 30 April 1989)
This one jumps forward a week from the original publication date and since Easter is already done, I don’t know why they did the switch. We will have to wait and see if Universal Uclick goes along with it.
Let’s start with the original to put us in the mood:
Panel 1: Elly in the shower using her bar soap as a microphone of sorts.
Panel 2: Elly has careful arm placement in order to keep this a family strip. Elly goes nose in the air, the standard Peanuts expression when shouting.
Panel 3: The song actually is titled as “Singin’ in the Rain” without the “g” on “singing”, making this a perfect Patterson song.
Panel 4: This one is as naked as Elly gets and the closest we get to pushing that family rating. No more I say. We readers can’t take anymore!!
Panel 5: Blessed relief as non-naked Elly puts on the kind of mascara that attracts fleas or gnats.
Panel 6: Elly sings the dance music part as she buttons up some buttons. Dressed in a glorious blue and all I can say is, “Thank you colourist, for not making it purple.”
Panel 7: Her coat on, her purse by her side, Elly is ready to face the day.
Panel 8: Elly looks outside and the view causes her to stop singing.
Panel 9: The joke is that Elly doesn’t find it that much fun to be in actual rain and in order to put this joke across, Lynn Johnston has decided not to have Elly carry an umbrella in spite of numerous comic strips where Elly insists the kids carry one. An example:
Summary: Singing naked Elly. Why Lynn? Why?
|Thursday, April 19th, 2018|
Saturday, 21 April 2018
With Martha otherwise occupied, Janet makes her play for Michael.
(Strip Number 1447, Original Publication Date, 22 April 1989)
Panel 1: Janet says, “What’s the matter, Mike?” Considering the hunchback that Mike is sporting on his left shoulder, this is a reasonable question. I think Lynn Johnston was trying to draw him leaning into his left shoulder, but there is something about that straight body and head that makes it look more hunchback like. If she could have only tilted his head to the side like she does in Panel 2, but that would require that eraser thing she hated using.
Panel 2: Janet looks to her left to see Martha and Lawrence silhouette dancing with their faces close enough that kissing might be coming soon. While that is distracting, Janet’s arms go all Elastigirl. She folds her right arm completely back on itself and then wraps her left arm around her body and onto the other side around the right arm. I have tried and I cannot do it.
Is it Elastigirl or Janet wearing a costume?
In the meantime, Mike takes his left hand and shoves it underneath his right armpit in imitation of Janet, but he fails because he is not Elastigirl. He is just a Patterson and should be happy he can grow a hunchback at will.
Panel 3: A drink out of nowhere appears beside Janet. I suspect Janet stretched her arm across the room and picked it up without leaving her seat. Janet suggests that Mike dump Martha and find somebody else. Initially I thought that perhaps Janet did not understand how dumping someone works. In order to dump someone, you have to be the dumper and not the dumpee. However, I see she is playing off Mike’s massive ego. He might not be that much into Janet, but the idea that he could claim he dumped Martha and not the other way around would definitely appeal to him.
Panel 4: For a second day in a row a Patterson has the goggle-eyed look of shock on his face and it is completely and totally justified. Mike has never thought of Janet this way, even though Lynn Johnston did lay the groundwork for this a few months back when Janet insisted on being his instructor on how to treat Martha.
Summary: Back in my single days, I ran across girls like this a lot. There was a certain kind of girl who didn’t like the guy so much, but really liked the idea of taking the guy from another girl. They found guys to be the most interesting if they already had a girlfriend.
|Wednesday, April 18th, 2018|
Friday, 20 April 2018
Lawrence took over the party and now Lawrence takes over the girlfriend.
(Strip Number 1446, Original Publication Date, 21 April 1989)
Panel 1: “They put on a slow dance. I knew it!” Who are these mysterious people who control the music at Michael’s birthday party? Why is this being treated like it was a school dance instead of a birthday party? Michael is the man of the hour. If he doesn’t want slow dances, then there should be no slow dances. In the meantime, in the background silhouettes, you can see the Martha silhouette standing by the Lawrence silhouette. The running theme with Mike and Martha is that when he ignores her, she moves onto another man. Lynn does show that here, but it’s pretty subtle in silhouette.
Panel 2: While we see silhouette Lawrence and silhouette Martha chatting in the background, Mike stuffs his face with chips and asks himself a few questions. What are the answers?
- What if I step all over her?
Answer 1: You apologize?
Answer 2: You look around and realize there is almost no stepping in 1980s style slow dancing. It is mainly holding and swaying.
- What if I totally screw up?
Answer: Not “if”. “When” and that time is right now, chip eater.
- What if she thinks I’m hopeless?
Answer: I believe the answer to that one is in the final panel of this strip.
Panel 3: I like the way Michael is wiping the chip mess off on his shirt in a typical example of Patterson disregard for clothing. As he prepares to get ready to consider the possibility that he might be able to see his way to slow dance with Martha, I notice in the background silhouettes we no longer see Martha and Lawrence’s silhouettes.
Panel 4: For once a Patterson has the goggle-eyed look of shock on his face and it is completely and totally justified. For once, this is not an overreaction for the sake of comedy. Your best friend and your girlfriend are slow dancing together cheek-to-cheek no less. That is classic, trashy behaviour straight from the soap operas and it is the moment that makes this birthday party the best birthday party of all time in the whole run of the comic strip. Here’s the best part: Lawrence and Martha are slow dancing together exactly the way I remember doing it in the 1980s. Camera on my dance floor.
The occasional theme for Lawrence is that he and Michael competed over girls. It was fairly subtle with Deanna Sobinski, but it was there. This is the most overt Lawrence has been. If Lynn Johnston had gone with her original plan to make Brian Enjo gay, I wonder if Lynn would have had Lawrence make a play for Rhetta Blum too. Here’s where Mike and Lawrence fought over Deanna.
Summary: I am amazed Lawrence and Michael’s relationship survived this moment. To do this to your best friend at his birthday party is about as low as you go. Yet, for some reason, we will see that Lawrence will remain spotless and blame free.
|Tuesday, April 17th, 2018|
Thursday, 19 April 2018
Lawrence takes over the party which allows the artist the opportunity to take a vacation for two panels and just do lettering.
(Strip Number 1445, Original Publication Date, 20 April 1989)
Panel 1: Unable to dance to the low volume Oompa Band music, Lawrence resorts to the good, old-fashioned method of livening up a party by turning off some lights (and by some we mean enough lights to make the whole place pitch black, which to me means all the lights). If Elly and John were monitoring this party in the slightest, they would intervene the moment the lights went off and the screaming started.
Panel 2: “Hey, guys, I…” I assume that line belongs to Mike in protest, since he ends up turning the lights back on in the final panel. We see “Popcorn Fight”, which is frankly something that needs to happen in the light because you can’t see what you are throwing and at whom.
Panel 3: Now, if I remove all the “giggle” indications of consent, the other lines are ones that I would worry about. “Ooooh!” “Stop!” “Eek” “Don’t!” “Shriek!” Without the giggles, I think this would not be a great strip for the “#Me Too!” generation.
Panel 4: The lights are up and not only is the room trashed, but the kids appear to be trashed too. Only Mike is standing. Aside from the girl on the floor with her skirt hiked up (which is disturbing), their feet are all in the air (which is also disturbing). It doesn’t look good, but fortunately they are all smiling. For the sake of comparison, I will remind you that Martha is wearing a sailor dress, Megan is wearing a pink dress, and Janet has that sort of rat tail haircut, as we saw when they came in.
Here in Panel 4, we see none of them. The colourist has used the purple colour to let us know which ones are girls, because the colourist seems to be hellbent on putting every single girl in purple these days. However, none of these kids look familiar aside from Lawrence. It’s like he turned out the lights and brought in (or maybe threw in) four of his friends (maybe five if the kid with the disembodied head under the coffee table is not attached to the legs straight up in the air behind the coffee table). I imagine that in the corner of the room, Martha, Megan and Janet are standing back-to-back Charlies Angels-style ready to defend themselves from physical assault.
Summary: Lynn’s idea of fun is a popcorn fight in the dark that leaves the kids in highly suspect positions after the lights come on. I am beginning to wonder if the true theme of this party is going to be: “Lawrence is a jerk.”
|Monday, April 16th, 2018|
Wednesday, 18 April 2018
You can lead a teenager to loud music, but you can’t make them dance.
(Strip Number 5116, Original Publication Date, 19 April 1989)
Panel 1: BOOMPCHA KA-WHOOMPA FOOPA-BOOM BOOM-CHA BLAM. Honesty, with these kind of music sound effects, I would almost draw the conclusion the Milgorough teenagers are listening to Volkstümliche Musik or in other words a German Oompah Band. Is John startled by the choice of music or the loudness? Let us see.
Panel 2: Instead of peering around the corner of the basement door, John has chosen to sniff around the door. Well a nose that size has to be good for something.
Panel 3: John gets downstairs and it turns out he wasn’t concerned about either the German Oompah music or the loudness of the sound. He was concerned because he didn’t hear (or smell) the kids were dancing. Michael says, “We’re not in the mood,” but clearly he is unaware of Lawrence and Martha checking each other out in the background. I think they are in the mood.
Panel 4: Michael says that Elly won’t let them turn up the music, because as you know, teenagers can only dance once the music achieves a certain decibel level. The joke is probably that John thinks the volume is already too loud, but if he is able to have an easy conversation with Michael without having to go into a different room and shut the door, then I agree with Michael. The music is too soft.
That said, if I walked in on a teenager party and they were standing around doing nothing, I would wonder what the kids were doing before I walked in and they spotted me coming.
Summary: Those crazy kids and their Oompah Band music. Ja! What is the world coming to when they can’t dance a good polka without turning up the music so every German within five kilometres can hear it.
|Sunday, April 15th, 2018|
Tuesday, 17 April 2018
Michael Patterson demonstrates that that he is easily embarrassed by things that would not embarrass anyone else.
(Strip Number 1444, Original Publication Date, 18 April 1989)
Panel 1: Martha, Megan and Janet arrive together because you know that Grade 7 girls and their best friends always travel together. Martha is wearing a sailor dress square back collar flap that the colourist has decided needs to have purple trim. Oh poor colourist. That trim should be white.
John tells them they all look lovely and so he shows admirable restraint compared to the eye popping out of his head he does when he greets Rhetta Blum in five years.
Panel 2: Michael smacks his forehead so hard it actually knocks his eyes down his face. This is his reaction to Elly telling the kids where the party will be and where the food is. What is Michael expecting here? That the kids just wander around the house until they find the eats and punch?
Panel 3: Michael grimaces so hard his eyes have popped out and he clinches his teeth like he just had a body part removed. This is in reaction to Elly telling them she is going to leave them alone and where the extra bathroom is.
Panel 4: Martha tells Michael his parents are nice and he reveals all the clinching and grimacing was due to his embarrassment. This is like the recent comic strip where Michael said he was embarrassed by Elly singing publicly 30 years prior. This joke is even worse than that one, because at least it addressed one of the top ways parents can embarrass kids – public singing. With this one you have nothing.
Summary: The point of this seems to be that Michael is embarrassed by nothing. However, to be fair, let’s review the list of ways parents can embarrass children and see which one (if any) the comic strip hits:
1. Dancing – Elly and John: Surprisingly no.
2. Appear partially – or completely – unclothed – Elly and John: Thank goodness. No.
3. Inappropriate swimwear – Elly and John: No water nearby.
4. Send food back in a restaurant – Elly and John: No, but Elly may have had some of those eats before the party.
5. Pyjamas at the school gates – Elly and John: No, but there was a possibilty of pyjamas with this one.
6. Tell a joke in front of their friends – Elly and John: Shockingly no.
7. Offer words of wisdom – Elly and John: Amazingly no.
8. Mutton dressed as lamb – Elly and John: No. You can tell this list came from England.
9. Hint that you have had sex at some point in your life – Elly and John: No. Would never happen.
10. Ride their scooter home from school – Elly and John: No, but that would be a fun story.
11. Step Out In Some Stylin' Mom Jeans– Elly and John: Elly is wearing a dress and we can’t see John’s pants (so maybe).
12. Sling the Slang – Elly does say the word “eats”. Maybe that’s it.
13. Bring Lots of Attention to Yourself - Elly and John: Well, they do open the doors.
14. Document Your Fun on Facebook and Other Social Media- Elly and John: N/A
15. Show Your Love with Public Displays of Affection - Elly and John: Have done that before, but not this time.
So the best we get is maybe John is wearing Mom Jeans and Elly may have used the slang word “eats”. It’s pretty weak and makes the folk singing embarrassment seem reasonable in comparison.
|Saturday, April 14th, 2018|
Monday, 16 April 2018
Michael helps prepare for his birthday party today by doing nothing a paranoid schizophrenic wouldn’t do.
(Strip Number 1443, Original Publication Date, 17 April 1989)
Panel 1: Michael is deep in thought with what I hope are rhetorical questions. Let’s take a look at them:
What if none of the guys show up?
Answer 1: Normally a guy would be worried if none of the girls show up. The guys should be easy.
Answer 2: It means that Michael will have all the girls to himself, so I do not see the problem, but clearly Michael has issues with that idea.
What if I look like a fool?
Answer 1: Remember it’s not a costume party and take off your motley.
Answer 2: What do you mean “if”? You are Michael Patterson after all.
What if my sister comes downstairs again with my undershorts on a stick?
Answer 1: Again? I don’t think I remember she did that before.
Answer 2: Rejoice because your lame party will be less lame and this storyline will be 100% better.
Panel 2: Oh, Michael. Your sweater and jeans are fine. However, I will give your hair to you. Your hair looks so bad:
There are three ways a man wears his hair – parted, unparted or departed and Michael is managing to do all three at once.
You should put a rabbit on your head, so you can have a decent head of hare (hair).
People will come up to you and say, “I've read that using apple cider vinegar or a baking soda mixture can help do the trick with the barf in your hair.”
A cat looking at your hair will get confused thinking he/she has just barfed a hair ball on your head.
Panel 3: Elly reveals to John that she does not know how Michael looks when he is relaxed. Let me give you a clue, Elly. If you see lots of thought balloons around his head, Michael is not relaxed.
Panel 4: Michael goes full-on Muppet, as he thinks about hyperventilating in order to enjoy his party. Foolish Michael. Muppets don’t have to breathe.
Summary: And so Michael sits back in his chair and forgets that he has had birthday parties before and that no one is coming to this party that he does not know and that he is not actually expending any effort on the party.
|Friday, April 13th, 2018|
Sunday, 15 April 2018
The Patterson kids do chores. What can possibly go right? Did you guess “nothing”?
(Strip Number 6173, Original Publication Date, 16 April 1989)
Panel 1: Michael appears to be doing battle with or using a vacuum cleaner. It’s not clear which one he is doing. The only thing certain is the vacuum is getting the worst of it.
Panel 2: Lizzie has a bucket of water over a sink because it will turn out in panel 7 she is taking that bucket to the toilet to clean the toilet because apparently the Patterson toilets don’t already have water in them.
Panel 3: These are rug beaters. They do not make the sounds, “BZRNG. BANG! WHZZNNGG, GRAK, GRAK,GRAK BZANG”
What Elly really means is that the attachment has a beater bar on it.
Beater bars are commonly misunderstood. Many people mistakenly understand the beater bar to be the rotating brush roll fixed at the bottom of the vacuum cleaner head. This is incorrect, although the misinterpretation is understandable since it is rare to find “traditional” beater bars on modern day vacuum cleaners.
A beater bar is actually a smoothly contoured metal agitator bar that is fixed to the rotating brush rolls in addition to the bristle brushes. Hoover invented this agitator bar in the 1920s to assist with lifting dirt from deep within carpet fibers through a vibrating action created when the beater bar rotates. The beater bar beats the carpet to vibrate it and loosen the dirt whilst the vacuum’s suction draws the air and dirt up and the brushes sweep and groom. Hence Hoover’s long time marketing slogan “It beats, as it sweeps, as it cleans“. Hoover regularly used this invention in their sales pitch noting that other cleaners used only suction and brushes whilst only their Hoovers were able to provide an additional vibrating action.
Either Lynn’s language is old or it has been a really long time since she operated a vacuum cleaner.
Panel 4: Elly announces to Michael that the cord of the vacuum is going to break unless he moves the cord to another plug. I don’t think I have ever had a vacuum cord break due to hitting the end of the cord length. What usually happens for me is the plug pulls out of the socket and the vacuum loses power. So this is two panels in a row where I doubt Lynn has done any vacuuming recently.
Panel 5: Blue cleanser means our colourist has decided that we are probably dealing with Ajax, the blue dot cleanser, even though the bottle says, “Klean Shine”. It now appears that Elly is doing her usual business with the kids and chores, where she doesn’t show them how to do it. She shows them how they are doing it wrong. I am sure Elly gets a certain degree of emotional satisfaction in knowing that she is smarter and more experienced than her children, but maybe things would have gone better if she took the time to teach them how to do this stuff.
Panel 6: Now we have hit a “camera in my house” moment for me. I have had clean laundry wrecked by someone putting something dirty in with it. When that happened I did not unhinge my jaw and scream and likewise, my elbows did not suddenly extend below my waist line.
Panel 7: Now we have hit a “This never happened to me because it is disgusting” moment for me. Even as a kid I knew what went into toilets and I had no desire to play with my toys in a toilet.
Panels 8 and 9: John walks in and delivers the lines that say:
- I really don’t know my wife at all
- I must be stone cold deaf if I didn’t hear Elly yelling and screaming over the last 5 panels.
- I have not learned to stay away from Elly when she is bug-eyed with a coffee cup in her hands.
- He does not appreciate how tiring it is to yell at the kids for doing things wrong without breaking down and giving them actual instruction.
Summary: Those who can do, do. Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, yell at those who can do.
|Thursday, April 12th, 2018|
Saturday, 14 April 2018
Sir Mix-a-Lot would love today’s comic strip making jokes about the word “mixed.”
(Strip Number 1450, Original Publication Date, 15 April 1989)
Panel 1: We join a conversation already in progress. Michael has told Martha something to which she responds, “You can?!!” What did Michael say?:
Panel 2: It is amazing that Martha always seems to have Janet and Megan close by, so she can get an instantaneous reaction to whatever news comes to her. They appear so quickly, I am beginning to wonder if these are not school girls but some kind of ghosts haunting Martha especially shrouded in darkness and standing on elevated black grass like they are. Michael stands in the foreground apparently paralyzed with fear staring goggle-eyed away from the girls as the girls talk about:
- My mom says I can have a mixed party for my birthday.
- I discovered if I put my hands in my pockets, I can thrust my groin out really far.
- I discovered that if I put my papers in my locker, I don’t have to carry them back to school.
- I discovered if I talk to a girl and concentrate really hard, I can make her head spin around completely backwards. I think can do it to you.
- I didn’t actually say anything. I have learned to project my thoughts. Watch as I think about my birthday party.
- I discovered that I can make the stripes on the arms of my shirt appear and disappear at will
Oh Lynn Johnston. This conversation should most definitely include Michael, because if these girls are so particular about who does or does not attend his party, they should just tell him whom they want to come. It’s not like Michael knows who to invite. On the other hand, I wonder if Michael’s dazed reaction means he had the idea that he was going to be able to invite Martha to his party and not invite Janet and Megan. Foolish Michael. You don’t know any girls. You need Janet and Megan there, so you will actually have girls at your party.
- Who is going to be at the party.
- Who they don’t want to be at the party.
- What they plan to wear.
Panel 3: Then Lawrence appears out of nowhere with a plant growing out of his crotch (showing an early sign of his future career aptitude) and asks a question that no boy would ever ask, “How do you think it’ll work out?” Real Lawrence would want to communicate two things:
Of course, this is not real Lawrence, but straight man Lawrence, and he has a duty to set up the punchline. Good job, straight man Lawrence!
- How did you get your mother to agree to a mixed party?
- I am invited to the party.
Panel 4: Michael stares off in space no doubt to read his punchline, which appears to be nothing more than a joke based on the idea that the word “mixed” has more than one meaning. Other punchline choices considered by Lynn were:
Summary: And so Michael shares the news of his party plans in the fewest words possible, while feeling concerned that he may be inviting creatures to the party that actually speak more than a few words.
- I don’t know. These girls seems like a can of mixed nuts.
- I don’t know. Mom said she wanted to serve salads of mixed greens.
- I don’t know. I live in a mixed neighborhood.
- I don’t know. My best friend is of mixed South American and Canadian ancestry.
- I don’t know. I got a mixed reaction from mom and dad.
- Please don't ask me what's on my mind I'm a little mixed up, but I'm feelin' fine When I'm near that girl that I love best My heart beats so it scares me to death!
|Wednesday, April 11th, 2018|
Friday, 13 April 2018
Friday the 13th. Aaagh!
(Strip Number 1442, Original Publication Date, 14 April 1989)
Panel 1: Michael obediently follows Martha’s suggest to engage the help of his mother, now making her first post-perm appearance as “perm in a pony”. The tail part of the pony stays just off panel as if Lynn Johnston could not quite decide how the pony part should look.
Panel 2: Such is the degree of Elly’s complete and utter focus on the idea that boys and girls must become couples at the earliest possible opportunity, she assumes that “boy-girl party” means that Michael associates with only the Grade 7 kids that are established couples. When I was in 7th Grade, that number would have been exactly zero (0) kids. Michael seems as surprised by the suggestion as I am and says,” Couples? No! Get real!” I would say the same thing to Elly too; but if I had raised a son who had been thinking about marrying Deanna Sobinski when he was 6 years old, I can sort of understand why she might jump to this conclusion.
Panel 3: Michael explains to Elly that her logic is flawed because none of the kids LOVE each other. I guess this means that:
- If they did LOVE each other, then they would be couples.
- The kids are just in it for the gratuitous sex, not the LOVE.
- Michael has confused the splayed hands gesture with a sign of LOVE.
- The kids are still at the LIKE or really LIKE or double dog dare LIKE levels.
- Michael is confused because Elly’s hair is still curly but he is not getting tacos.
- "LOVE means never having to say you're a couple.”
Panel 4: Michael then says something which any boy of any intelligence would not say to his mother after asking her to host a boy-girl party. (b) appears to be the answer to the Panel 3 list. More amazing than Michael’s question is Elly’s completely unperturbed response instead of her usual goggle-eyed shock. She appears to be staring out into space imagining what it would be like to host a party with coupling Grade 7 kids in the dimly-lit rec room. I would say it would get very exciting about 9 months after the party.
Summary: And so we see the beginning of Elly’s part in the birthday party, where she attempts to be the cool parent, even though she is probably still wondering why Michael’s friends are not already couples.
|Tuesday, April 10th, 2018|
Thursday, 12 April 2018
Martha reappears and for some strange and bizarre reason thinks that mothers are the kind of people who throw good parties for teenagers.
(Strip Number 5115, Original Publication Date, 13 April 1989)Panel 1: Apparently Michael’s conversation with Lawrence and Brian yesterday managed to make its way to Martha who has decided to approach Michael carrying a sheaf of papers so enormous it goes from her waist to above her chin. It is so heavy, Martha has to lean back to counterbalance the weight of it. In spite of this physical difficulty, she inquires if Michael is going to have a party.
Panel 2: Martha manages to hold that giant mound of paper and still do the finger motions to tick off all the things Michael needs to have at his party. It’s an impressive display of strength and dexterity and Michael seems to be entranced by it. Either that or he is amazed that Martha has rattled off the most “an’”s he has ever heard coming out of a Milborough teenager. Martha dropped so many final “d”s, it’s going to be hard to walk without stepping on them. Martha’s list seems pretty good except for “prizes”. Suddenly my mind shifts back to one of my earliest birthday parties when my mother would give out prizes for the kid who did the best at “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”
Panel 3: Martha clutches the giant mound of paper, but the weight of it makes her sway forward, which is good because it puts her head underneath that giant word balloon. Martha tries to tell Michael that organizing a party is the easiest thing in the world and at this point, you might be thinking that Martha is volunteering herself and her best friends to help Michael put together that party. Honestly, I don’t know why that is not what she is doing. What teenaged girl in her right mind would want their boyfriend’s middle-aged mother to organize a party? Pay for the party, yes. Organize, no.
Panel 4: Oh Martha, do you really want Elly Patterson to do this? She can’t even have kids over to paint Easter eggs without it turning into a disaster. In the meantime, I am impressed that Martha’s sheaf of papers has managed to grow in 3 panels so it now goes from well below her waist up to her chin. At least the lockers have shrunk to compensate.
Summary: The birthday party story begins and it is in my opinion the best birthday party story Lynn Johnston did in the whole 29 years of her comic strip. Ironically as Lynn Johnston reminisces about the 25th anniversary of Lawrence coming out, she is about to reprint the last appearance of Lawrence when he was obviously straight.
|Monday, April 9th, 2018|
Wednesday, 11 April 2018
Mike is made out to be terrible because he celebrates a rite of passage
that terrifies his weak-as-water parents.
(Strip Number 1441, Original Publication Date, 12 April 1989)Panel 1:
We find Mike in class with Lawrence and Brian telling them how he can't wait to turn thirteen in a couple of days. Panel 2:
The reason is that instead of being referred to as a kid, he'll be able to say that he's a teenager now.Panel 3:
He even loves the sound of the word thirteen and compares it to getting a degree. Lawrence reminds us that Lynn never bothered learning how "Yeah" is spelled and says "Yah" like the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show.Panel 4:
Lawrence laughs when Brian says that Mike didn't even hafta study for it.Summary:
The interesting thing is that John is almost aware of how much Mike's life is going to suck over the next seven years. Too bad he's only as aware as Val Stone because he's become the sour old blowhard he used to rebel against too. In any event, howtheduck
takes over because That Girl wants to turn Mike's birthday party into a make-out thing or something or other.
|Sunday, April 8th, 2018|
Tuesday, 10 April 2018
It's Mike's turn to get clobbered when he works out the last of the boyishness
out of his system before mutating into a scary, scary teenager.
(Strip Number 1440, Original Publication Date, 11 April 1989)Panel 1:
Having learned not a whole Hell of a lot from the mess with Brad, we find Mike and Brian still screwing around with the fountain. As they do so, Brian tells Mike that the new 'target' is at sixty degrees and coming within range.Panel 2:
Said 'target' is a girl holding a sheaf of paper in one hand so we know she's a student and, for some reason, a purse under her left arm.Panel 3:
The reason she's holding a purse is so she can whack Mike over the head with it.Panel 4:
Brian leans down and tells Mike that they may wanna reconsider their first strike strategy.Summary:
What they might wanna reconsider is being jerks to classmates for no reason. What they need is for someone who they wanna look civilized to to enter their lives.
|Saturday, April 7th, 2018|
Monday, 9 April 2018
We start the 'Mike's birthday' arc with him getting Brian into shit
with Brad Luggsworth.
(Strip Number 1439, Original Publication Date, 10 April 1989)Panel 1:
We find ourselves at Mike's school. As he and Brian stand next to a water fountain, Mike tells Brian that there's a technique to something.Panel 2:
He says that it's all in the thumb; range and direction are both controlled by the person exters and the way he rolls his thumb.Panel 3:
It turns out that the thing in question is squirting people with water from the fountain. As Brian gets in a good shot, Mike compliments him on the range he achieved.Panel 4:
When an aggrieved Brad lifts Brian off the ground, Mike says "Next, we'll work on direction."Summary:
Once again, Brad is made out to be a bully and once again, he's merely acting in response to being attacked. The only difference is the name of the moron messing with him.
|Friday, April 6th, 2018|
Sunday, 8 April 2018
Lynn lifts the scene from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" wherein Snoopy mimes the angry rant Lucy is making about listening to the director clean so that Elly's over the top reaction to mild inconveniences
may be mocked.
(Strip Number 6741, Orifinal Publication date, 9 April 1989) Panel 1:
We find ourselves watching Elly gasp in horror because someone has been screwing around with her sewing basket again.Panel 2:
She makes that stupid bitchy rage face of hers again when she finds out that said someone has been cutting up paper with her scissors.Panel 3:
Elly bellows at Elizabeth for using her precious sewing supplies again.Panel 4:
What the angry blowhard doesn't realize is that Mike is standing behind her back doing a letter-perfect imitation of her oh-so-predictable growling "How many times have I told you to leave my things alone?"Panel 5:
He also mimes that stupid palms-out "they shot Jim Kirk in the gut" pleading gesture when she tries yet again to turn cutting paper! with her GOOD SCISSORS!!! into a war crime perfectly.Panel 6:
Elly is starting to notice a reaction that isn't the longed-for craven apology for being a selfish and cruel child that yearns to destroy the mother she hates when jabbing her finger in the air like the angry fucking lunatic she is and bellowing about asking first before being told that no, Mommy's belongings are off limits forever. Said evil reaction is stifled laughter because Mike can do mime THAT speech too because he's also heard it so many times before.Panel 7:
Since Liz isn't taking her angry beefing with the seriousness Elly expects, she stops mid-rant to glower.Panel 8:
She turns her head to look at Mike playing the innocent.Panel 9:
She's baffled when he walks away laughing.Panel 10:
Since she doesn't know what happened, she doesn't know how ridiculous she looks when she says that she's sick of her kids doing stuff behind her back.Summary:
This sort of thing leads directly to next year's "KAPOW!!!!" because the worst thing that the kids do is tell a horrible, hurtful lie about how Elly is an angry, self-pitying moron who was born to lecture and hates to forgive.
|Thursday, April 5th, 2018|
Saturday, 7 April 2018
John is meant to look like a lying asshole who doesn't really like the new hair-style
but years of watching Elly seek out excuses to feel like shit tend to subvert that premise and substitute it with "Loving a volatile maniac addicted to feeling bad means knowing to keep quiet."
(Strip Number 5114, Original Publication Date, 8 April 1989)-04-08Panel 1:
Elly is still unsure about her hair and asks John if he really likes it. Since he married a pair of child-bearing hips, he's really indifferent to her appearance but assures her that he approves anyway.Panel 2:
When she asks him if he's being honest, he says that he loves her as a person. Panel 3:
He loves her with straight or curly hair and if she's thin or chunky. Love, as he says, is blind.Panel 4:
Since he remembers having to pick coffee mug shards outta his scalp every week or so when he says that if she weren't stooped over like the weight of the world were in her shoulders, her fake ten pounds would go away, he's less of a lying sack of crap that Lynn makes him out to be when he thought-bubbles that love also knows when to keep its mouth shut. Summary:
We eventually get back to Elly angsting about the frightening stranger in the mirror so that a leaden point is made about how Elly's insecurity becomes Liz's insecurity. The difference with Liz's insecurity is with her, we're given the option of admitting that her ugliness is in her head. We don't get that with Elly.
|Wednesday, April 4th, 2018|
Friday, 6 April 2018
Elly's moaning about how vanity has made her visit a needless horror on herself
leads to a reminder that children and dogs are filthy idiots.
(Strip Number 1438, Original Publication Date, 7 April 1989)Panel 1:
We find ourselves watching Elly reeling from the clueless indifference of her twelve year old son to her new look and telling Farley that it's vanity that makes us want to be what we're not. Panel 2:
She then asks the dog why we humans can't be oblivious to our outer appearance and simply enjoy living like animals do.Panel 3:
Her insane soliloquy pauses when Liz walks by looking like the poster girl for being a slob.Panel 4:
She reminds us of who she is when she lumps children in with barnyard animals again and says "Then again....some of us do." Summary:
The problem isn't that human beings as a species are vain and silly. The problem is that Elly will never feel comfortable in her own skin so long as she has skin in which to feel uncomfortable. (And even then, we could possibly posit a world in which her grim shade wails that the urn her heirs and assigns selected makes her ashes look fat.) Remember, we're enduring this glurge because the boy who was impressed by Taco Thursday didn't notice the change he 'requested'.
|Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018|
Thursday, 5 April 2018
The interesting thing about today's strip is not that Elly forgets that Michael is going to be far more concerned about what food he shoves down his pie-hole
than how his mother looks. The interesting thing is her idiotic reaction.
(Strip Number 5113, Original Publication Date, 6 April 1989)Panel 1:
A few minutes later, we find ourselves watching Mike tell Elly that something is really cool. Since she's a weirdo with a bottomless appetite for flattery, she puffs herself up and asks him if he thinks so because she thinks he's admiring the new do.Panel 2:
We continue to talk at cross purposes when Mike tells her about how John was right to say that there was a surprise in the kitchen.Panel 3:
When Elly says that she didn't think that he'd notice, Mike assures her that of course, he's gonna notice.Panel 4:
Her smile and self-confidence collapse when he says that she hasn't made tacos for months.Summary:
If you expect that Elly's reaction to Mike's indifference to her hairstyle is over-the-top despair because she's so fragile that she needs the approval of her pre-teen son, you'd be right. After all, she only did this because he said she looked like an aging hippie and she does go on to let him decide if she can wear shorts because she stupidly hands him power he doesn't deserve and shouldn't have been allowed to expect.