November 26th, 2017


Monday, 27 November 2017

In today’s strip we learn that people like to press Martha to make promises and then they also like to hold Martha to her promises.   Clearly Martha is not intended for a career in politics.
(Strip Number 1376, Original Publication Date, 28 November 1988)

Panel 1: “I know why Michael’s mad”.  If she goes with “mad=crazy” or “mad=angry”, it works either way.   While Martha is absolutely correct, what we have here is the plot device when someone jumps to a conclusion that turns out to be the right answer even when there is no evidence that should lead the person to that conclusion.  Clearly Martha should consider a job as a professional literary detective.  In order for Martha to be correct, it also means that Michael was extremely offended by Martha’s action and yet did nothing about it.  Well he did nothing but sulk, scream and tear up her note to him, in other words, act like a passive aggressive Patterson.

Panel 2: Martha suddenly realizes she broke her sacred promise to Michael.  In the meantime I am distracted by the big space between Martha and her friends.  I am going to guess Lynn believed Martha’s repetition of “I promised!” would run a little longer.  Perhaps she had planned for Martha say it a few more times and then realized that twice was enough.  Once would have worked for me.

Panel 3: Martha genuinely doesn’t seem to understand why she broke that promise and she also says, “anyways” (plural).   Fortunately for her Janet explains that by making the promise to Michael she was effectively breaking a promise she had already made to her friends (and implies that she should have never made that promise to Michael in the first place.)

Panel 4: Janet goes cross-armed and judgmental as she reminds Martha of her other promise.   In the meantime, Megan says nothing, because she knows that she has to wait until February before she gets to speak.   She just goes a little slant-eyed to get her point across. 

Summary: Will Martha do as Michael did and fail to confront him about what she has learned, and just sulk while screaming and tearing up notes?  Will Martha learn to stop making promises and start saying things like, “I’ll try to do that, but I am not promising anything”?  Or will Martha take more abuse from Michael until he finally relents and agrees to forgive her?

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

This strip is the closest one to me to actual middle school behaviour as Janet intercedes with Michael on behalf of Martha. That is what I remember middle schoolers doing from my days in middle school.

(Strip Number 1377, Original Publication Date, 29 November 1988)

Panel 1: As we saw last week, Janet believes Michael’s screaming reaction to Martha’s note was due to her failing to use the word “love” instead of the word “like”.   Janet writes “Martha really, really likes you and that’s the truth.”  While Janet is not willing to stretch all the way to “love”, she is willing to stretch to “really, really like”. 

Artwise, I think we are supposed to get that the person who sent the note is featured in the background of each panel in silhouette as the person in the foreground is reading the note.  While this is a nice idea is theory, in practice we are dealing with the artistic abilities of Lynn Johnston, who appears to be unable to keep the head shapes the same even though they are repeated just two panels away from where they were last featured.  Consequently the silhouettes look likes 4 different persons.  Panels 1 and 3 have silhouette Janet who loses the rattail off her hair in Panel 3 that is obvious in Panel 1.  Likewise, Panels 2 and 4 have silhouette Michael who goes from having an obvious back part in his hair in Panel 2 to no part and a flatter head in Panel 4.

Panel 2: Michael decides to prints his response, so we don’t see his cursive and get confused thinking that Janet writes like Michael and is responding to herself as Michael.  Michael plays off the “really, really” and communicates he no longer cares what Martha thinks.  I am really, really not sure why this doesn’t end things right here. 

Panel 3: Now Janet sets up Martha for an exercise in public humiliation.  Meet Michael by the trophy case, so Mike can make a winner / loser joke in two more days.  Come on, Lynn.  Was it really, really necessary to put Martha by a trophy case for that terrible joke?

Panel 4: Mike tells Janet to tell Martha to take a chair if she is going to wait for him by the trophy case because he plans to make her wait there so long, she will need a chair to sit on.  I am really, really not sure why this doesn’t end things right here, except Lynn Johnston decided she really, really needed that trophy case joke.  As she has done many times before, Lynn Johnston often throws story continuity out the window in order to make a bad joke.

Summary: Michael hates Martha and Janet gives him the perfect opportunity to revenge himself on her.  After all, “revenge” is a dish best served cold (and with a terrible joke).