October 17th, 2019


Saturday, 19 October 2019

The one where it seems like Elizabeth does not know how violent her brother can be.

(Original Publication Date, 20 October 1990)

Panel 1: First of all, “yewww”. Nothing gets a brother upset more than a mispronounced word. You can tell Elizabeth is beginning what can only be described as an exercise in proving Lynn Johnston is not good at kid dialogue and is even worse at taunting. Clearly Lynn is not French or she would be better at the taunting.

Elizabeth is going out to see a movie with Dawn and she rubs it in to Michael that he cannot go out and she can. This would be a more impressive taunting except that once the weekend is over, Michael is no longer grounded and he will be back to going out late every night with Martha again, except he will come back at 10:45 pm instead of 11 pm. This taunting would be meaningless if Michael or Elizabeth (or Lynn Johnston) remembered that.

Panel 2: Elizabeth appears to be tying her shoe as she talks about getting hamburgers and fries and ice cream. This taunt is another odd one until you realize that because Michael is staying home, then Michael has to eat Elly food. Suddenly Michael’s desire to go out late every night begins to make more sense. This is a pretty good taunt.

Panel 3: Elizabeth goes for a third taunt and this time she is successful because she hits the theme of sentences that start with the words “too bad”. There is nothing that angers an older brother more than a sister who can repeat words.

Michael looks like he is ready to kill her. Where have I seen this face before? Oh right.

I think for most girls about 5 years younger than their brother, this would be dangerous territory. A 14-year-old boy can hit a lot harder than a 9-year-old girl. Elizabeth has no fear because she knows that they would just jump in a cloud of comedy violence where neither one of them would get hurt nor dirty nor any of the usual things that happen in real life when kids fight.

Panel 4: The punchline is “They always stop you when you’re on a roll.” This is funny because it’s an idiom and that is all you need for comedy gold. It’s not quite as funny as alliteration, but what are you going to do? You can’t make alliteration the punchline for every comic strip!! Suddenly I feel the ghost of editor Lee Salem is looking over my shoulder and smiling in agreement.

Summary: Taunting is good for, but not good by the idiots who use idioms for punchlines.