August 20th, 2017


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

It’s the old story:  Kids with long pants taunt kids with shorts.  Can’t we all just get “a long”?

(Strip Number 5009, Original Publication Date, 22 August 1988)

Panel 1: The unnamed big kid has taken on the task of demonstrating Lynn Johnston’s mastery of kid speak with phrases like, “Barf city!!” and “My guts are beggin’ for mercy!”  Pale Lawrence finds this amusing to the point where he is doing what appears to be one of those silent laughs, where his mouth is wide open as if he is laughing but no sound comes out.  Brian Enjo smiles at either the unnamed big boy or at Lawrence’s silent laugh.  It’s hard to tell which one is funnier.

Panel 2: In walks Michael and Martha in lock step with hands firmly placed in their pockets.  The only reason you would expect hanky-panky to be going on is that for some strange reason Martha is missing the insignia on her shirt.  Pale Lawrence spots them and then asks the following questions in a curious order:

Hey, Mike!  What’s happening?
This first question means that Lawrence is seeing something odd (as Mike is walking with a girl) and it seems so abnormal to Lawrence that his mind is unable to contemplate what is happening. 

Where’ve you been all evening?
Lawrence is now not concerned with what Mike is doing or who he has been doing it with, but where Mike has been doing it. His priorities are a little off.

Panel 3: Fortunately for Lawrence, the unnamed big boy is not so constrained.  He put his arm around Mike and puts his head against Mike.  What is this nutball doing?  He is being more inappropriate with Mike in this one panel than Mike was with Martha.  Why is he such a slug? He says, “une affaire d’amoor” so yes, it’s because he is Quebecois.  Lynn’s old prejudice appears once again.

Not too surprisingly, this guy seems to be as unaware of Martha as Mike was.  What is wrong with these boys?  You have only one girl in your group and you don’t notice she is there until one of the boys in your group is seen walking beside her?  Moreover, when she is right there, you still don’t speak to her. 

The art is a little odd in this panel and the next.  It’s hard to see in the colour version but the black and white shows that Lynn has drawn a shadow straight across the character’s legs as if there is something specifically blocking the light, but we never see it.

-----------------------------------------------------------------> The mysterious lower half shadow.  Why?

Panel 4: Then pale Lawrence suggests that Mike was using Martha to keep warm instead of the campfire.  Sorry, Lawrence. It's August.  You don't need a campfire to stay warm in August. The unnamed big boy thinks this is so funny, he holds his gut and laughs so hard you can’t hear him.  Yes, it is another silent laugh.  Brian Enjo backs off and who can blame him?  Just 3 panels ago, the unnamed big boy was talking about vomiting and if noise isn’t coming out, then something else might.    Lynn could have erased Brian from this strip and there would be no effect.  It seems like she has the unnamed big boy to help Lawrence do the taunting because we will never see Brian Enjo do that.

Summary: As we're going to see just tomorrow, Michael’s response to these taunts is going to be break rank with his friends and spend time with Martha exclusively.  After this mean greeting and their rude suggestion about Martha right in front of her, I actually think this is a good choice.