(Originally published Tuesday, May 26, 1992)
The one where Elly demonstrates why her children left home at the first opportunity.
Panel 1: By the time we get to Panel 2, it will be obvious the Pattersons are sitting around a four-sided table, but in this panel it looks like John is thinking about hand-feeding Elizabeth that forkful of white something. Michael speaks out of the side of his mouth kind of like he was a Hanna-Barbera character and the camera is on his right, where his mouth completely shifts to his right side. I am not sure what impression Lynn Johnston was trying to put across with that.
Michael talks about how, after he finishes a couple more hours out of driver’s ed, then he is going to go for the BIG one! The readers are hoping and praying that Michael means “driver’s license” when he says “the BIG one”, because there are so many less palatable other choices.
Panel 2: We go to silhouette with all the characters so the author can accentuate the first appearance of Elly today. I can’t tell if the silhouette is intended to blunt the blow of seeing her, like they sometimes do with movie monsters where the first appearances are always dim and difficult-to-see in order to build the tension of the horror to come.
Panel 3: Elly delivers on that horror with a grammar lesson. With eyes closed and her food falling off her fork, Elly corrects Michael on his use of “good” versus “well.” Michael has laid out a “man,” a “an’,” and a “gonna,” but the “good” is what Elly latches onto. I guess you can tell the one grammar lesson that Elly remembers from school. Fortunately for Elly, Michael does not respond with a lesson on table etiquette.
Panel 4: Michael gets up and leaves the table thinking, “-no wonder I can’t wait to blow outa here!!!” In this case the family is left in silhouettes and it is done correctly to emphasis the action of a single character.
Summary: This comic strip works pretty well (aside from the misuse of silhouettes in Panel 2.) Michael is excited about his driver’s test and is thinking positively, only to have his mother bring him low and squelch his enthusiasm. Michael’s final panel response is how many young people feel when they learn that their parent is more excited about criticizing them than being excited for something they are doing. Unlike many of the comic strips, Michael is not insulting anyone to make his point. This is a good slice-of-life comic strip and a good character builder for Michael’s eventual departure from the family.