September 10th, 2017


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Mike begins his career as a stalker, lurking behind a locker staring at Martha. This will be the way Lynn begins his 4 year relationship with Martha. Lynn Johnston seems to love this idea of the creepy stalker introduction to boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, because she does the same thing with virtually every one of Elizabeth’s boyfriends.

(Strip Number 1344, Original Publication Date, 12 September 1988)

Panel 1: “There’s Martha.  I’ve thought about her every day since camp.”  Are we sure this is Martha, because this girl looks about 4 years older than Martha.  She is almost as tall as the locker, she wears a dress and the hair band which typified Martha’s hair style at camp is not seen on this girl.

In any case, this recap is a little abrupt.  How about “I’ve thought about her every day since she kissed me in camp.”  That has a little more punch to it and might explain why Michael is thinking differently about Martha than he would any other girls he knows from school (not that Michael knows any other girls at school).

The other part we are missing is the fun point where Michael realizes that since he is now in junior high school, he gets to see students from other elementary schools and “Look, there’s Martha!  I thought I would never see her again.” There could have and should have been some great lead-in strips to this one.

Panel 2: This panel is so poorly constructed.  Michael looks out into space and the whole rest of the panel is a speech balloon.  If there is more talk than picture, then your cartoon is failing.  “I only knew her for three days – but in my mind we’ve had a thousand conversations!!” Yes, 12-year-old boys want to get 12-year-old girls alone, so they can have a 1000 conversations.  If it was 1001 conversations, I would think Michael was channeling Scheherazade.  However, even in the summer camp, those conversations were only in Michael’s mind.  Let’s take a look.

In this strip, Mike just agrees with Martha saying, “Me too!” and "Yeah!!!"  He says more in his thought balloon than he says to her.

In this strip, their entire conversation is just in Michael’s thought balloon.

Besides, Mike has it wrong.  Mike marched around the camp with Martha for 3 days, but she was in his group for the full 2 weeks.   He just didn't notice she was there.

Panel 3: Martha goes from the locker by moving to her right and walks by Michael.  Either Michael has moved back from her to get more distance, or Martha is now a head taller than Michael.   She looks good.  She looks too old for Michael, but more mysterious is the silhouette down the hall who appears to be an adult watching Michael.  Why is this person there?  We will never know.

Panel 4: Michael goes to “Thinker” pose with hand on chin as he wonders, “Why can’t I think of anything to say when I see her for real?!”  I know we are supposed to think Michael is cute because he is shy around girls, but what possible real answers do we have here?:

A.Because stalkers are not really talkers.

B. Because even in the summer camp, he didn’t have real conversations.  Those conversations were only in his mind.

C. Because Michael has failed to learn basic social skills.

D.Because while Martha appears to be headed off to class with books in her hand, Michael seems to have forgotten that he is at school with classes and teachers and that kind of stuff.

E. Because he is a Patterson and let’s face it, Pattersons are not very bright.

Summary: We do not know if Martha is aware of Michael at her school, but for some reason, Michael considers it to be his responsibility to engage her in talk and not hers.  It’s kind of like the camp was a free and open place where the kids did not have to follow gender normal behaviour and Martha was allowed to step over the bounds of standard female behaviours and kiss the boy first.  Now they are back at school, the rules have changed and Michael has to make the first move.  Michael on the other hand, seems to be incapable of conversing.  Michael talks a lot in his head and not so much around other people. Will he get over this fear?  Will he realize that he is slowly going crazy?  Only tomorrow will tell and by "tomorrow", I mean the day after tomorrow.