(Strip Number 4988, Original Publication Date, 29 June 1988)
Panel 1: Here we make a reference back to the Monday June 19, 2017 strip where Elly said the family would be eating off a hot plate in the basement. Right away you can see there is a perspective problem. Closest to the reader is a table on which there is mustard and ketchup, but it has almost no depth to it, indicating the reader’s view is at table level. However, the hot plate Elly is using also has no depth to it. The net effect is that we have a 2D picture where Lizzie appears to be a giant and Elly appears to have set the hot plate at the same level as her neck. Oh, Lynn Johnston. If you only hadn't slept through the perspective classes at the Vancouver School of Art.
The reason: Elly has to fit in the panel below the word balloon, so she has to be short compared to Lizzie and the hot plate.
Panel 2: Lynn uses silhouette with this panel and the action of going black causes the table that was in front of Lizzie to jump behind Lizzie and cause the mustard and ketchup to disappear. You know what they say: "If you go black, you have to jump back."
Dialogue-wise, Lizzie uses the word “wif” instead of “with” to indicate that she has not gotten to the point where she can pronounce the “th” sound. Of course, she also says, “this” and “the”, so it seems like she can pronounce “th” whenever it suits her author.
Panel 3: Elly now turns into a giant as Michael appears out of nowhere to speak hunched over to Lizzie about their mother because as everyone knows, hunchbacks are the best at keeping secrets. The real reason: Word balloons. You have to hunch over to get under the word balloons.
In this panel we see a number of mysterious things:
a. The basement appears to have walls that are kind of like the walls of a barn.
b. Elly appears to have lost the feeling in her hand as she handles the fork in the boiling water right over the steam coming from the boiling water. Ouch!
c. It’s not a hot plate. That is a cooktop, because it is a heated surface and not a single burner. Don’t be fooled by the words “Hot Plate” on the side. Just because you label it, doesn’t make it so. Rules to live by.
Panel 4: While the joke is that Elly’s taste buds have worn off; actually, that is quite correct. Quoting from this article:
It all starts to go downhill around 40. That's when our taste buds begin to stop growing back. Individually, each taste bud goes through a constant cycle of birth, death, and rebirth that lasts about two weeks. A healthy tongue sloughs off and regrows these taste buds constantly. Once we hit middle age, the buds continue to die and be shed, but a smaller number regenerate as the years go on.
Summary: We have a rare moment where Lynn has a punchline based on something she thinks is not true, but actually is true. In other words, we have a genuine “It’s funny because it’s TRUE!!” moment. Who would have thought it was possible?