(Strip Number 1353, Original Publication Date, 29 September 1988
Panel 1: The first two panels show that Lynn Johnston was struggling with dialogue placement. You can see a straight line headed out of Elly’s head to Elizabeth’s speech balloon, which is a giveaway; but the biggest giveaway is that Elly is unnecessarily short. Lynn Johnston has no problem shrinking her characters to make the dialogue fit, so the line tells us that she originally planned for Elly to say more in a balloon matching that unexplained line. As to why Lynn left that line in, the answer is our usual, “Lynn Johnston don't use no stinking erasers.”
So we can only imagine what the dialogue might have been. We have:
Elly: Elizabeth – What are you doing?
Elizabeth: Shhh…Michael’s on the phone.
Expanding Elly’s dialogue it might have been:
Elly: I need to get to the kitchen to cook your dinner that you will not appreciate even though it is where we have the only phone in the house and I need to say this to explain where Michael is when he is on the phone.
Elly: How do you pronounce the "ch" in the word, “mischevious”?
Elly: Your father found out that he has high cholesterol and it’s all because you begged him for a hug. What did I tell you about begging, Elizabeth?
Panel 2: Elly delivers her lecture, “It’s rude to listen in to other people’s conversations, young lady!” and Lizzie has been shrunk in deference possibly to Elly’s lecture, but more likely because Lynn planned for there to be a dialogue balloon for her reaction, which somehow did not make it in the comic strip. Possible things Lizzie could have said:
Elizabeth: Yah! And nuts to you, buster!
Elizabeth: But he’s talking to a girl and he’s never done that before.
Elizabeth: How do you get your arm to attach to your waist like that?
Panel 3: He we are in Retcon City. Apparently someone told Lynn Johnston that preteen boys could care less if preteen girls found out that they have been kissed by a girl, so Lynn feels the need to add a little extra caveat when Michael says, “Wait a minute, you went around telling everyone I kissed you. You kissed me, remember?” So Michael is angry at Martha because:
1. She didn’t tell the story correctly and as a future journalist, he expects truth in reporting.
2. Michael has issues with aggressive girls (It’s the old Madonna–whore complex).
3. As a typical preteen Michael enjoys anger and righteous indignation more than common sense.
4. Michael is good at holding a grudge, not unlike a certain cartoonist I know.
5. Michael is an idiot.
Panel 4: Elly demonstrates just why it is that her lectures to Lizzie about rudeness will never sink in for Lizzie.
Summary: As we will find out, Martha is calling to invite Michael to hang out at her house, which seems like a pretty friendly gesture. Michael brings up the kissing gossip issue again in response and picks a fight with a girl who is extending the olive branch of peace. He was so eager to pick up the phone because it was a girl yesterday. Given this response, it makes me wonder if he was expecting a call from a different girl.