Thursday, July 12, 2007

Not getting better, in fact getting worse

When I was reading For Better Or For Worse last week I knew that somewhere out in the great wild Internet, there were thousands of hardcore fans collectively losing their shit. After years and years of building up that this was coming, Lynn Johnson finally dropped the bomb and hooked up Elizabeth and Anthony. The blind could have spotted this coming years ago, but still I knew there would be people shocked and horrified.

Although I don't get how you could be shocked. It's a four panel strip that runs daily. There are limits to the format and Johnson welds foreshadowing with all the subtlety of a drag queen using eye shadow.

I debated going and looking for the howls for cheap amusement. Fortunately, you can just go here and get all the links. Howe, if you have to read just one, then Shaenon Garrity’s is top of the class for committed and detailed ranting on the subject.

Oh, and there's also this.

I’ve written about the unhinged nature of FBOFW fandom (I think it’s actually supposed to be FOOB and fans are FOOBies, but that’s a path I simply can’t wander down) before so that fans are going batshit is not a surprise. And I guess I shouldn’t mock too hard. People can be very protective over their comic strips. And this one has been going a lot longer than most. People are pretty deeply invested in the characters.

And least we forget, in the geek hierarchy, they're not even that scary. We're not talking furries here.

But man, do they hate Anthony. There are Jews who hate Hitler less than some of these fans hate Anthony.

I’ve been following the strip for decades and I’m fairly ambivalent about this turn of events. It’s not like you couldn’t see this coming and while I like the strip, I’m not really that inclined to get deep into the psychology of Johnson on why she choose to hook these two back up again. In fact, if I had to get upset with anything Johnson’s done in the strip recently, it would be the two weeks prior to the Liz/Anthony hook-up, where readers were subjected to an agonizing two week lecture on why it is bad to make fun of disabled children, especially if you’re in high school, and that we should treat them with respect.

I’ve been kicked in the balls with more subtlety. It was that, more than anything else, that made me think that Johnson needs to wrap things up real soon now.

It’s a hard thing to know when to wrap things up and to do it gracefully. For every Bill Watterson who knew when to walk away from Calvin and Hobbes, there are dozens more than outstayed their welcome. I think Johnson has outstayed her welcome.

That makes it all the more pity that things aren’t going to wrap up cleanly. When she first announced that she was wrapping up the strip, then I was a touch sad, but felt that was fine. It had a great run, why not end things on her terms rather than hiring someone else to write and draw it.

Now it’s my understanding that we’re going to be doing a recap strip. A panel of Michael and Liz looking at a photo album and remember back to when they were kids, and then reprinting strips for 20 years ago. The characters will also cease to age.

It’s her strip and Johnston can feel free to do what she wants with it. However, once the last original strip runs, I think that marks the end of my morning ritual or checking in and seeing how they’re all doing.

I’ll miss it, but at least I’ll leave it with my sanity intact. The same can’t be said for some of the other people who have followed the strip over the years.


Geoff Meeker said...

On a separate, unrelated matter, I wonder what you think about this development:

towniebastard said...

I'm reasonably comfortable with the decisions made regarding the book. Moving it from the kids section to the adult graphic novel section makes sense. Placing a warning label on it also make sense. I think those are all reasonable percautions to let parents know there is content that might be disturbing content before buying the book. Certainly better than banning it outright.

It's probably been 25 years since I devoured all the Tintin books I could get my hands on (God bless the now gone Virginia Park Public Library) so I can't be sure if I read this one or not, although I seem to think I have. Oddly, I've managed to grow up and not be a racist.

I do understand how people can find this offensive and not what it out there. However, with the proper warnings (and that should also include an introduction explaining the book and it's controversies) then why not have it out there...