Mimi (mimisgrotto) wrote in binky_betsy,
Mimi
mimisgrotto
binky_betsy

An Open Reply to Lynn Johnston

So, as I posited top of page 3 of the last thread, rather than all of us sit here and fume about Lynn's appalling lack of respect for her craft AND her readers as expressed in her recent Coffee Talk statement, I thought it might be good for all we snarkers to combine our knowledge and experiences to construct a thoughtful, intelligent response.

I think we are all capable of conveying to Lynn our displeasure at her list of flimsy excuses without being snarky or patronising to her. We snark here, but I like to think that if any of us were in Lynnie's presence, we'd either clam up or offer our criticism with a degree of courtesy.

We're all here because we KNOW this can end better.


We've all posted thoughtful, insightful comments debunking her rationale for being a lazy writer, how about we let her know that together?

Note: I AM NOT A WRITER. There are plenty of you who can string an argument together MUCH better than I can. The main thing I have to offer is perspective from another professional cartoonist and one who knows FIRST-HAND that knocking Lynn off the page is not the breezy throw-down she seems to think it is.

So let's take her statement, one issue at a time, and come up with a few sentences or a small paragraph debunking each one. I think howtheduck's encyclopedic knowledge of the FOOB strip database will be VERY handy in pointing out her wild character(AND DRESS!) inconsistencies. Then we could stitch them together and either send it to Coffee Talk (might be too long for that) or email it direct to Corbeil.

The statement
Ok, folks! Time to address a few of your concerns!

You're absolutely right. Elizabeth should have gone to visit her grandfather when she picked April up from his apartment. Trouble is...I have a limited time left here and every strip, now, is a statement that leads to the August 30th conclusion!! If I had sent her to visit gramps, it would have required perhaps 3 strips total to resolve interaction between them: the wedding, her work, his health, the dress and so on. Everything has a repercussion. - I have less than 30 seconds a day to lead you through the labyrinth of these characters' lives. So. I hoped you would suppose she did visit and was just unable to see him at this time! I was wrong. It was an omission! I'm grateful for those who read between the lines and know that there is something going on in everyone's life, and I can't show it all!

For those of you who oppose Anthony as a marriage partner for Liz. Please consider the fact that he has been closely tied to her family all the while she's been away at school and up north. John and Elly invested in, buy their cars from and constantly connect with Gordon Mayes who owns a successful automotive complex with Anthony now as manager of the repairs and maintainance division. Both Elly and John regard Anthony highly and ultimately, this bodes well for Elizabeth's future with him. She respects her parents' opinions. She knows his family, his past, his friends and his personality. His appearance as a successful single parent also says a lot about his ability to commit to and sustain a lasting relationship.l I haven't gone into a lot of kissing, embracing, "I love you dialogue" for fear of making you jump on me for being too saccharine!! I should have turned on the treacle!! Trust me, she does love him and she's confident enough in her choice, and he with her, that their relationship is easy. They simply know they're making the right choice and display their serious, physical affection privately!!

The problem with a visual art like this is that it's static. If these people were on a screen, moving and alive, the subtle exchanges, eye contact, expressions, teasing and so on would be charming and endearing. In film, you can avoid saccharine in the way the actors behave. In a comic, static image, all you see is the kiss. Is that too corny? Is what they say too boringly trite? How do you draw the subtleties required to make the reader feel these sweet, subtle emotions without saying- "what crap!"??? I dunno!!! I draw well- but not THAT well!! If I was producing a comic novel, I'd have the luxury of time and multiple kissing images in which to convey an exchange like this... Again, I have less than 30 seconds, once a day. So...I've given you more of their friendship and less of their physicality. A regrettable omission!!

For those who say these young people have all ended up with people they've known since elementary school... and this is unusual: You're right! These days, we are all going well away from our families and meeting culturally diverse and exciting new people. That's real life. I'm sorta in a wierd fantasy capsule. Already I have more characters than most strips can manage. Adding new people is difficult, but a challenge I enjoy.

Every NEW character requires a series of portraits and a personal profile. They need a consistent "look" and personality, a place to live, a car to drive and a "style" unique to them. In order to accept the new character, the reader needs time (at 30 seconds a day) So, when it comes to a lifetime committment, it's easier for all of us to get a handle on and get inside consistent "actors"- people we've known for awhile and know something about- than it is to try and make a serious attachment to someone new! Both Paul and Warren were new...and though they were attractive and fun...what did you REALLY know about them? Not much...until Beth started to fill us all in!! That goes for ME, too. Beth's stories do what I could never do...( in 30 seconds, once a day!!)

So, I hope that sheds some light on the writing and development process I use. That's not to say that every one of your opinions doesn't register or have great merit! You're ALL right and I appreciate your input and your discussions! Believe it or not, I do read what you say on Coffee Talk and it consistently amazes me to know how involved you are in the lives of these imaginary characters!!

When the story is told, you'll be able to imagine what happens next. The great pleasure for ME will be in the retelling...because I'm going to add to and improve this saga...and that's a luxury few artists have!!

Thankyou for writing and for reading my work.
Sincerely, Lynn J.


So, breaking it down para by para - anyone who feels like tackling a paragraph can comment their suggestions and we can have a lovely jam session of refining and suggesting:
1. "I only have 30 seconds!" - tie this in with arguments against the monthly letters and other non-strip "continuity"

2. Why her rationale that Anthony=Good Catch is not kosher and why depicting people in love does NOT equate to 'turn on the treacle'. Cite strips with Paul.

3. Lynn's lack of artistic competence in depicting character through detail (I can field that one, along with any other artists or toon buffs present)

4."I live in a fantasy world" - enthusiastic agreement? Argue that she should not attempt to depict younger people if she does not understand how they work or think.

5. In defense of Paul & Warren and why a good character doesn't NEED a massive ten-year history to be appealing and engaging.

6. Don't fucking retcon. Just quit gracefully and let the Pattersons be.

7. Token final paragraph for any other lingering issues - St Michael, Rod issues, Lynn's general lack of research or use of surrogates etc.
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  • April & Becky

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