(Originally published Sunday, February 18, 1990)
Panel 1: As a single drop of something falls from the spoon in Elly’s hand, Elly has declared dinner is ready. Judging from the circular motion of the steam above the pot, the pot appears to have a spring in it.
Panel 2: The punchline of the two panel lead-in shows Michael unappreciative of something (size, content, odor) with “Is this it?” He doesn’t say what. The two-panel lead-in punchline is Elly doing a Charles Schulz’ patented vulture stare in reaction. Michael is looking at a giant pot of something and what appears to be either mash potatoes or marshmallows. I am going with potatoes.
Panel 3: In this panel we see that it wasn’t it as Michael and Elizabeth’s plates have peas on them in addition to the mashed potatoes and unknown brown substance. Thanks to the colourist, we now associate the brown with something that was in the pot, but in the black-and-white version, the pot could have just as easily been a giant pot of peas. Interestingly enough, while Michael and Elizabeth had to serve themselves, Elly is bringing food to John at the table. Michael asks permission from his mother to eat dinner in front of the TV and Elly gives a “No!” answer. I notice that the kids don’t even bother to ask John and John does not bother to interject. This is a wise choice on all their parts.
Panel 4: The begging begins and Elly resolutely responds like someone whose creator has failed to draw a mouth on her --with no words.
Panel 5: Lizzie gives up and is at the table, but Michael is starting to go to a wide open Peanuts mouth as he rages about the quality of the TV show they are missing. Elly doesn’t care and John wisely keeps his mouth shut. In fact, Johns does not say a word for the entire comic strip.
Panel 6: This one is terribly composed. Lynn shows early signs of silhouette fever as the non-talking John head is blackened and shown from the back and takes up most of the panel. Mike has given in and joined the table and even though Elly has won, she feels the need to continue arguing her point. Her point is probably a point close to Lynn Johnston’s heart about the family rarely having a meal together. Of course in Lynn’s case, the problem was her job and not the kids wanting to watch TV.
Panel 7: As poorly done as Panel 6 was, Panel 7 is great. Completely silent, the story is carried solely from the drawing! All the Pattersons have different expressions on their face, and you can see Elly’s realization that her insistence on getting her own way has made the rest of her family miserable.
Panel 8: Another silent panel and an excellent end for this one. The family is gathered together in front of a TV and while they don’t look happy, they at least don’t look unhappy. Elly gets what she wants and the kids get what they want. Compromise is a wonderful thing so rarely seen in the Patterson family. Enjoy it while you can.
Now for a few odd things about Panel 8:
The TV is apparently made by Iron Man, judging from the bolts on the back. Elly is sitting on something that has a back and no seat on it and it looks like Charles Schulz drew her face. Also please ignore the fact that Elizabeth has no lower half of her body, just a block of blackness where her body should be. And poor John, how is he going to do dentistry with that mangled right hand? I think it is easy to tell which panel Lynn was drawing when she got close to her deadline.