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For Better or For Worse won’t go into re-runs, kind of

Lynn Johnston has clarified information published in a Ventura County Star story that reported her For Better or For Worse feature was ending the hybrid model and going into reruns. In an interview with Dave Astor of E&P, she says she will wrap up the current story-lines by September of 2008, freeze the characters age and then “the 1979-launched comic will focus on the younger versions of the characters.”

This second hybrid attempt will consist of rerun material but she’ll “change various elements of the comics, create new story lines, etc. — but do all that in the drawing style she used to have.”

“I’ve become more of an illustrator,” said the Canadian cartoonist. “My old drawing style is a lot less complicated, but it’s more lively and free and joyful.”

Discussing her desire to tweak some content, Johnston recalled Charles M. Schulz remarking that he would have “liked to get a chance to fix things” in some of his past “Peanuts” comics. “This gives me that opportunity in ‘For Better or For Worse,'” she said.

So to clarify, the original “hybrid” model was confusing for a lot of readers because of the two drawing styles. I have emails from people asking if some inferior hack had taken over the strip. This new hybrid model appears to be much like the first except, Lynn now has to draw everything in her earlier drawing style.

As for the transition into this hybrid model, she explains that she’ll introduce the change to her readers using the comic itself, and she says that she’ll continue to do the strip as long as health allows.

Community Comments

#1 Larry Levine
January/23/2008
@ 3:41 am

Sometimes it’s best to bow out on top of your game & call it a day. For Lynn to de-evolve her drawing style & restructure three decade old strips doesn’t make sense, like any art form, older work should stand on it’s own.

#2 Mark Fatel
January/23/2008
@ 5:54 am

I’m not sure I understand. What is she doing? Is she re-drawing the old strips, or drawing newer parts of the hybrid in her old style?

#3 Larry Levine
January/23/2008
@ 6:42 am

She’s redrawing parts of her old strips in her 1979 drawing style to & restructure the storylines.

#4 Larry Levine
January/23/2008
@ 7:02 am

Mark, the hybrid portion will be new strips drawn as she would have in 1979 to better match the old stuff. All this time jumping is getting too Doctor Who’ish to keep up with!

I think Lynn should put the strip to rest & work on current FBOFW graphic novels as health permits.

#5 Rick
January/23/2008
@ 8:38 am

The whole hybrid attempt has been distracting at best. I don’t think that it’s doing any good for the strip as a whole. Her art style has evolved (it looks much better than it was in 79) much like Shultz style did over the decades.
It would be better if she wants to do a hybrid to just redraw the old stuff. Right now it’s just weird looking.
Or better yet, go out on a high note with a final story line and retire.

#6 Alan Jones
January/23/2008
@ 8:42 am

It could be that she simply has her staff scan a good volume of earlier work, because once it is “in the box” you can very easily cut/paste/reposition characters and any other part of a drawn strip to fit any new storyline imaginable. There only needs to be an appropriate volume of character poses/props to select from (which after almost 3 decades this is certainly the case). It could be that this scanning has been going on already, with characters and props cut out of the scanned strips and placed into an image library of sorts exactly for the purpose or reuse. Probably not a popular creative approach for readers/fans, but very efficient while maintaining the exact drawing style of a given period.

#7 Dawn Douglass
January/23/2008
@ 8:52 am

If she believes her original drawing style is “more lively and free and joyful,â? it makes me wonder why she ever changed it.

#8 h saffell
January/23/2008
@ 9:02 am

I really do not like Lynn’s original style of drawing…
Her “new” style is much better and nicer to read, the old style looks like a poor relative did it.

If we had never seen the evolved style, it would not have made a dfference…but, Lynn did improve the drawing and should stay with the latest style.

The old style looks unfinished.

#9 Wiley Miller
January/23/2008
@ 9:27 am

I think her style evolved as the format of the feature evolved from being gag driven in the early part of her career to story driven material later on.

Gags influenced a looser drawing style while storylines, especially the more serious ones, are better delivered with a more illustrative technique. So the more story oriented the strip became, the tighter the art became. A natural progression.

#10 Larry Levine
January/23/2008
@ 9:34 am

I can understand how frustrating the health issues must be for Lynn, she’s still young & clearly loves her work, but this isn’t the best route to go. Much as I hate legacy strips, even that would be better than sprucing up 29 year old art with a drawing style she long abandoned. I think needs to let go FBOFW in strip form & take it into new venues which will be less stressful on her health.

#11 Dawn Douglass
January/23/2008
@ 9:42 am

That makes sense. Thanks, Wiley.

Why all this talk about health? Is she sick???

#12 Larry Levine
January/23/2008
@ 9:48 am

Dawn, Lynn suffers from dystonia, a neurological condition that makes her hands tremble. Even with medication, symptoms can continue to persist.

#13 Alan Gardner
January/23/2008
@ 10:05 am

So here’s the thought I had on the drive into work. I would love to own a box set collection of For Better or For Worse, but if she starts integrating new story lines in the old drawing style, etc. what would that final collection be? Would it be limited to the start of the feature to when she freezes the cast’s ages sometime this fall, or would it also include the reruns as those might be necessary for new story lines? In essence, will there duplicate strips in a future collection (should there be any)?

#14 Dawn Douglass
January/23/2008
@ 10:08 am

That’s too bad. Similar to what Scott Adams endures, sounds like.

If she can’t work as hard as she used to, instead of going backwards, it would make more sense to me if she would continue writing the strip but let somebody else draw it.

#15 Larry Levine
January/23/2008
@ 2:29 pm

Alan, I really feel for Lynn’s dilemma on retiring. She’s still in her creative prime which is why I hope she chooses to move FBOFW forward or retire it completely rather than re-envisioning the strip’s past.

#16 Garey Mckee
January/23/2008
@ 4:52 pm

All of this is just getting way too complicated for me. LOL! I can barely mastery Alan’s spam proof math tests let alone figure out what the deal is with FBOFW.

#17 Garey Mckee
January/23/2008
@ 4:52 pm

Yeah, and I can’t type “master” correctly either.

#18 Malc McGookin
January/23/2008
@ 5:54 pm

Lynn’s health issues have been well documented for some time, as have her psychological scars from what has obviously been (at times) a deeply troubled life.
A simple trip to Wiki will reveal some background.

Larry, I disagree that Lynn is in her creative prime, because creative prime is not age-related in the way that athletic prime is.
You may still physically be able to endure the stresses of meeting deadlines, and you may also have the ability to generate ideas, but spiritually you may have lost the will to do so.
I believe Lynn has done her dash, and needs time off to recuperate. There is an outside chance, if she is left to her own devices, that she could come good again and use the creative juices she built up in her hiatus (though that sounds more gynaecological than I intended).

Problem is, Lynn’s family now help create the strip, and she is under pressure from her syndicate to keep SOMEthing going, so as rival features don’t come in and claim FBOFW shelf space.

This woman has been surrounded her whole life by people who treat her like cr@p, putting themselves first. It’s time someone said “Lynn, take the time to enjoy YOUR life, we’ll all get along fine”.

FBOFW is not a gag-a-day strip, it’s a feature in which the characters move on chronologically. Therefore the only way Lynn can retire for FBOFW to undergo a Peanuts-style “classics” run is for all the characters to be catapulted back 20 years in time and go through the whole thing again.

Not only is this a ridiculous concept, it’s an indictment of the newspaper comics scene as it now stands.

It’s time for FBOFW to retire gracefully and stay as a golden memory in the minds of people who love reading comics. Any attempt to cobble together some lame excuse to prop it up will ultimately lessen it.

#19 Kate Rardin
May/3/2008
@ 11:04 am

I’m glad I stumbled upon this conversation as I’ve been wondering about the status of this strip — I took a newspaper hiatus due to the dreadful state of papers today. I’m sorry to learn about Lynn’s health. I do have to say though that I have a strong preference for following the present day family over the throwbacks. Watching the characters grow up and grow older has been a satisfying reflection of my own growth process and I have loved watching them adapt to each new age.

#20 R Pyle
May/4/2008
@ 7:29 am

I agree with Malc in that Lynn should wrap things up, take a bow and go to Paris for a year. Or wherever. She needs to walk away for a while.

All of this “clarification” (read: mind-changing verging on the whimsical) is just making me hate the strip. I take a quick glance at it every day, and if I see that old-style drawing, skip over it.

But if she wrapped the strip, and perhaps a year later came out with a book full of new strips that take up where she left off…sort of a supermanga…I bet that would sell like crazy and make everyone happy.

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