(Strip Number 1334, Original Publication Date, 24 August 1988)
Panel 1: Mike and Martha march across the shoreline moving away from the camp houses in the background. This series of panels is a test for Lynn, because she has to make the background stay basically the same while the characters move in the frame getting closer. Notice the grass in the front stays the same, the two camp houses stay the same, the two trees stay the same, the hills next to the houses and trees stay the same. Unfortunately for Lynn she just couldn’t get the shoreline to stay the same. Over the course of the first three panels, it slowly makes a move toward the grass to the point where the grass starts to move off the panel to get away from the lake water.
Panel 2: Instead of walking slouched with both their hands in their pockets, Mike and Martha remove the hands closest to each other, all while not talking and while not looking at each other, just the way pre-teens do if they think they are being watched and are trying to get away with something. Here in the miles they are away from the camp, I don’t think anyone will notice what they are doing. The adults are probably going to be a little more concerned that Mike and Martha are wandering off by themselves. Kids. Don’t do this in real summer camp. I had to deal with kids that wandered when I helped out with a Boy Scout camp and they are a pain in the butt, because you are constantly having to watch them to keep them out of trouble.
Panel 3: Now they are holding hands and just in case you did not catch that dramatic move Mike must tell us via thought balloon that they are holding hands. Then, for some strange and bizarre reason, Mike, in his thought balloon, decides to defend himself against the accusations that no doubt his brain will hurl at him for holding hands with Martha. “I didn’t mean to hold hands -- it just happened.” Hey, Mike. It’s not like you accidentally murdered Martha. “I didn’t mean to kill her -- it just happened. I don’t know how her hand got in my hand. I swear I am innocent. Don’t put me in jail! I have a family that needs me!!”
Panel 4: Now the couple has moved close in and deep back in 1988, Lynn Johnston thinks, “I am so glad I don’t have to draw that water on the lake anymore with Mike and Martha to block it. It was too tough. I think the lake just wandered off the panel.” Mike walks silently with Martha and just in case you did not understand that he was using thought balloons instead of speech balloons, Mike has to tell us, “I never knew you could say so much without saying anything at all.” Honestly, this is a lesson Lynn Johnston could stand to learn with these thought balloons. Hey, Lynn Johnston! Your readers are not idiots. They can see and comprehend. You don’t have to spell out everything verbally that you have shown visually. It’s a visual medium, not a stupidity medium. I hope Lynn back in 1988 can hear me.
In the meantime, the last time we saw this joke was in this sad, sad comic strip:
Summary: As yesterday, Lynn is moving on with the idea that Mike and Martha’s relationship is physical and not emotional, which is a theme she will continue with them for the next 4 years. In the beginning they are cute together, but the idea of two pre-teens walking together and not talking is fairly ridiculous.