August 26th, 2019


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

(Originally published August 29, 1990)
The final appearance of Harriet, Fred, and Stan. 

We were sailing along on Moonlight Bay
We could hear the voices ringing
They seemed to say
"You have stolen her heart"
"Now don't go 'way"
As we sang love's old sweet song on Moonlight Bay

Panel 1:
For some reason, this panel looks like the boat is right between land masses and all they need to do for a rescue is step out of the boat.  I say “for some reason,” but the reason is that she has drawn a horizontal line with a ruler and put the boat and the land masses on the same line.  Moreover, she has drawn the shadows of the land and boat from the moon so that they match in the water.  Another perspective fail for Lynn Johnston.

Harriet suggests singing and launches into the 1951 Doris Day classic, “On Moonlight Bay”.   If Harriet was about the same age as Lynn, this song would have been very popular when she was 4.  It’s an interesting and odd choice, but does reflect just one more way Elly and Harriet are sisters separated at birth.  Here’s my version:

We were dead in the water of Milborough Bay
We could hear the voices ringing
They seemed to say
"Will you shut up, Harriet?”

"Now go away"
As we sang hate’s old sweet song on Milborough Bay

Panel 2:
Harriet lays into Fred and even if the gas part is incorrect, the other parts are pretty significant condemnation.  No oars.  No radio.  Boats have motor problems, but not having oars or a radio is just plain, basic stupidity.

Panel 3:
We get to see the last part of Stan we will ever see, his left ear.  For the first time in 2 weeks, Michael talks to Martha with actual words.  Michael delivers the straight line, “Do your parents always fight like this?”  The joke depends on Martha’s misinterpretation of what Michael is asking.  Is he asking whether Martha’s parents fight, or is he asking about their fighting technique?  The joke is going to be that Martha misinterprets Mike to mean “fighting technique.”  That will make for the funny, but when you think about it, this might be the question that Michael is actually asking.  After all, it’s not like Michael has not seen his own parents fight.  He knows that his mother regularly throws dishes at his father’s head, or beats him mercilessly with a pillow.  He could very well be surprised that Harriet has not yet resorted to physical violence as his mother often does.  Arguing by just yelling and pointing fingers might be a new and different thing for Michael.

Panel 4:
Michael looks at us readers with his reaction to Martha.  He is surprised by Martha’s answer, just the way I am.  Is Martha saying that this fight is just for the benefit of Michael? 

Conversation before the trip:
Harriet: Now we have a guest on our boat trip, let’s have a big fight in order to keep him entertained. 
Fred: How about if I leave the gas, the oars, and the radio behind; so we are stranded?  Then we can have a big fight just for Michael.
Harriet:   That sounds like an excellent idea, honey.  There’s nothing kids like better than seeing grown adults fight!

The unseen Panel 5 after the strip:
Fred: Hey! Martha!  That was supposed to be a surprise!
Harriet: Right, Martha!  How can we entertain Michael with a fight if you tell him that we only fight when there’s an audience?
Martha: Oh, sorry.  I forgot.

The unseen Panel 6 after the strip:
Fred: The evening is ruined.  Stan, get the gas can out.  Let’s go home.
Stan: Finally.  This kid is thick as a brick.  He is nowhere near as much fun to entertain with fights as Lawrence was.  
Harriet: I have snacks.  Anyone for a “going home” cookie?
Martha: I’ll take one.

This is the final comic strip before the tense moment when they fear they are going to freeze to death overnight.  How will they flag down someone to help?  Will the situation get even more intense?  Will desperation set in?   Will we get to see any of that?  The answer is, “No.”  Join us tomorrow for one of the most anticlimactic climaxes ever to appear in this comic strip.