November 19th, 2017


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Today we learn that Mike and Martha are the only persons of colour in their school. 

(Strip Number 1372, Original Publication Date, 22 November 1988)

Panel 1: The hair gel from yesterday’s strip apparently having worn off, Mike is leaning against a locker thinking, “Here I am waiting for Martha with a stoopid note in my pocket.”  Even in his thoughts, Michael drops his yods for “stupid”.  From a story-writing perspective, this is an abrupt shift from the Mike we saw earlier where Michael rejected Martha completely.

We have not seen Martha or seen anyone talk about Martha since that time, so there is no motivation for Mike to want to be back with Martha.   This sort of “reset the characters back the way they were before as if nothing happened” is something Lynn Johnston did a lot in the final years of the comic strip.  So, let’s just pretend that this is the first time Mike and Martha have talked since summer camp and everything will make sense.

Panel 2: It looks like Mike is wearing a Christmas sweater where his neck is like the neck of a Christmas ornament, only the colourist has opted to make Mike’s sweater a single colour instead of giving him a different colour from the jagged marks on the sweater up.  So the sweater just has a strange design on it.  Mike identifies his situation is weird, but he does not identify why it is weird.  Maybe it’s the weird sweater.

Panel 3: Martha approaches carrying the giant sheaf of paper which typifies students at the school.  For some reason the colourist has decided to give Martha multi-coloured hair.  It’s not as obvious in this strip, but it will be more obvious tomorrow.  Mike runs through his reasons not give Martha the stoopid note:   He won’t be embarrassed.  His life will be simple.  Really, when have any of those things been a motivation for Mike?

Panel 4: In a storyline ripped straight from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, Mike hands Martha the note that will explain everything while shouting the word “HERE!!!”  After being a major stick in the mud for the whole book, Mr. Darcy gives Elizabeth Bennet a letter that explains how he is actually the best man in all of England.  She believes it and therefore falls in love with him, because in Jane Austen books the manliest men write letters talking about how wonderful they are and all the wonderful things they have done.  The story with Michael and Martha is really pretty similar, except it does not have the happy ending of “Pride and Prejudice”.  It has a happier ending.

Summary: This strip officially begins the romance between Mike and Martha that is going to last a few years.  Martha MacRae is by far the best of Michael’s girlfriends and consequently, Lynn Johnston will send a lot of pretty terrible messages about how girls should act in relationships using Martha, which is all the more surprising considering the author’s gender.