First and Last – For Better or For Worse

The first For Better or Worse by Tad Dorgan was January 7, 1922.

Wait, wait, wait … wrong comic strip.

The first For Better or For Worse by Lynn Johnston was September 9, 1979.
Forty years ago today!


That strip was a Sunday, the dailies started the following day on September 10, 1979.

The strip ran for 29 years, with dailies ending on August 30, 2008…

and the final strip, like the first one, being a Sunday. This dated August 31, 2008.

Cartoonist Lynn offered thanks and a goodbye in both final strips.

And then, for historians, it got complicated.
Lynn coined the term “newruns” to described what followed.

What followed for almost two years, from September 1, 2008 to July 11, 2010, was the strip went into reruns, but not completely. The reruns were touched up by Lynn (cartoonists are never happy with their old stuff) on both the art and the script. Lynn also threw in an occasional new strip done in the old (but now improved) retro style.
[Aside: I have an unsourced note here that says the first month of “newruns” (September 1 to September 30, 2008) are all new strips done in the retro style. No confirmation of that as a fact.]

Beginning July 12, 2010 the strip goes rerun,
though occasionally edited to delete elements that date the strip.



The complete Patterson saga can be read at GoComics, which for some reason doesn’t carry that very first Sunday strip and carries the last new Sunday strip in quarter-page format. But all is good – Lynn’s own For Better or For Worse site carries the first Sunday and the last new Sunday in half-page format.



As for that Tad Dorgan For Better or Worse (note: no second “For” in the title) strip?
I couldn’t find the first, but I did find the last one:

TAD’s For Better or Worse was a Sunday-only strip that ran from January 7, 1922 to April 12, 1925.
(The strip was much more of a “Mr. and Mrs” type strip than this final one indicates.)

Like Lynn’s FBoFW there are some problems for historians with Tad’s FBoW strip also.
Notice I said it was “Sunday-only,” only it wasn’t. If you get a calendar you will note the start date and the date in the final panel of the above last strip are Saturdays. Saturdays are when the strip ran in Hearst’s New York Journal newspaper. Syndicated the strip ran in Sunday papers across the nation, and, yes, in Saturday editions of papers that didn’t run Sunday issues. [of note: the Sunday-only Prince Valiant made its first appearance in many Saturday February 13, 1937 editions.]


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