howtheduck (howtheduck) wrote in binky_betsy,
howtheduck
howtheduck
binky_betsy

Monday, 31 May 2021

(Originally published Monday, June 1, 1992)

The one where Martha ends her four years of torture, I mean, dating Michael Patterson.

Panel 1:  Lynn Johnston is starting to get to the point where she changes the perspective in every single panel.  Today, it’s just three of four that are different.  We start off with the view of Michael and Gordon from within the inside of Mike’s school locker.   Unfortunately for Lynn this particular foray into artistic experimentation exposed her usual issues with continuity within the same comic strip going from one panel to the very next.  We can see here that Michael has a shoe, jacket and a stack of loose paper (don’t get me started on these kids who have never heard of notebooks) and they are about chest level on Michael implying that he has an upper locker.  There is no clothing hanging in the locker to be seen, and most importantly, we see no signs of a metal barrel fire pit at the bottom of the locker with the head of Snoopy jutting out of it.  And yet, in panel 2, the locker is full-sized and contains all these things.  Why, Lynn?   Why?  What did she think she was drawing that looked like the side of this with a Snoopy head jutting out the top?




Panel 2:  Martha appears out of nowhere (and she is carrying a sheaf of papers.  Grr!).  Gordon looks over at Martha without any sign of recognition or a friendly face.  It’s like he has never seen her before and frankly, the way the comic strip has been going between Mike and Martha, he might be surprised that she is still talking to Mike.  After all, the last time we saw them together last week, Martha dropped a bombshell on Mike and his car obsession and we never saw the conclusion to that conversation because, you know,...Lynn.

Panel 3: Martha asks to speak to Mike alone and Gordon amazingly turns around and leaves without saying a word.  However, Gordon does take the time to make his shirt grow a long sleeve before departing.  No doubt he felt a cold draft coming from Martha.  Michael calls her “Mart!” (Grr!) and then says, “No problemo”, because it’s obviously not a problem for Mike, it’s a problem for Gordon. 

Panel 4:  Martha bows in humble obeisance to Mike and prayerfully closes her eyes and announces what we fans have known for the last 4 years.  Martha knows that the decent thing to do when you break up with someone is you do it face-to-face and take the brunt of the reaction.  This is a lesson that Michael never learns even after having Martha demonstrate it.   Michael goes bug-eyed.  The protocol will eventually be established that relationships with Pattersons end only when the other partner is caught (sort of?) cheating on them, so Mike may be shocked that Martha did not follow that protocol.   To be fair, Martha is the first and it is unlikely that anyone taught her that the correct etiquette for her to break up is to have Michael hear from someone else that she went on a date with Jason Finkbeiner and then to send her a pithy e-mail breaking up with her and not to confront her directly.

Summary:  Right away you can see how Martha’s complaint about being left out of Mike’s life is demonstrated.  Michael shares his good news and confidence with Gordon, when you would expect a guy with a girlfriend to be seeking well-wishes from her (and not from or in addition to Gordon) just before heading off to the driver’s test.  This exclusion sets up the break up and it does it in a subtle way, which it typical of Lynn's Golden Era.   Martha is not a part of Michael's life and he is making no effort to include her.
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  • 37 comments

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