(Strip Number 5006, Original Publication Date, 18 August 1988)
Panel 1: In answer to Michael’s question from yesterday about how many other kids are like him and sitting by themselves wishing that they had someone to talk to, in walks Martha, only no one in this world ever just walks into a place standing straight. Martha leans out from behind a tree. Probably Lynn Johnston likes this visually, but it puts across the idea that Martha has been escaping people by hiding behind a tree. She asks a question that is put so indelicately that you can easily see why Martha has a hard time getting along with people: “What are you … some kind of nut case?” Most people would not take that question very well, but most people are not Michael Patterson. He responds with, “Uh?” which is possibly the most intelligent thing he has said since coming to camp.
Panel 2: Although Michael has not defended himself against the question/accusation, Martha is apparently so accustomed to people defending themselves against her, she just launches into an explanation of why she called him a nut case: “Well, you’re sitting there talking to yourself. What am I supposed to think?” She splays her hands to Michael in a very Patterson-like gesture and if I were Mike I would think, “Mommy?”
Panel 3: There is a little motion here which we miss between panels because Martha has her feet in the black water of doom just as he does. (By the way, the best of the artwork is Lynn’s water motion around their feet, which is nicely done.) That presumably means she took off her shoes or sandals. In reality, it just means that Lynn Johnston has made a move where she does not have to draw feet. Just as we don’t see Michael’s shoes beside him as they were yesterday, we don’t see Martha’s either. Unlike Michael, who has been opening his legs to the world, Martha shows some feminine grace by not imitating. Michael’s response to Martha’s accusation of insanity is “I dunno. How come you’re not at the campfire?” He has somehow equated the two things. I just figured since the only campfire we have seen has been the younger kids, perhaps the older kids are all around the camp hiding behind trees and sitting on beaches displaying their preteen angst and alienation to anyone who would care to look. Lawrence and Brian are probably just a few trees over moaning about unfair life is.
Panel 4: Martha cries, “Nobody likes me!!!” with such vigor that Michael actually backs away so quickly that his hairpiece falls of his head a bit and you can see some full on male baldness. Really when you think about this, Michael should be used to feminine yelling by this point, since Elly does it so much. If I were Mike I would think, “Mommy?”
Summary: The Martha saga begins. Martha was the best of Michael’s girlfriends IMO. (Yes, I am looking at you, Doormat Deanna!). She has friends like real girls do. She doesn’t take crap from Michael. Her family is a lot of fun in a white trash kind of way. If she and Michael had married, it would have been so great to see the Elly / Martha interactions.