Thursday, August 09, 2007

The "Funnies" Aren't So Funny Anymore

Some twenty odd years ago I tried to get a comic strip syndicated. It was a story strip based on two women who were nothing alike but became the best of friends. My best friend...and me. Whenever we were together, whatever the chemistry was, we seemed to revert to our childhood alter egos. And we had fun; wonderful adventures. It had it's serious side too, exploring issues such as spousal abuse, troubled kids and the diagnosis of a non-curable disease.

The rejections came. The art work was wonderful, so I was told, but story strips were not in vogue. That wasn't entirely true. Two of my favorites were in publication at that time and remain extremely popular; Funky Winkerbean and For Better Or For Worse. In truth, I would say it just wasn't that good. And, too, really serious subject matter had not yet come into play. How times have changed. With morning coffee in hand I began reading Funky and realized how true to life comics have become. Lisa was answering questions from her daughter about her cancer.

"Does cancer hurt?"

"Sometimes it does."

"Is that why Mommy cries?"

"Yes...that's part of it."

It brought to mind a conversation I had with a dear friend shortly before she died. "Sometimes I feel so sorry for myself I just sit down and bawl my head off."

Sometimes I did too. She was my friend. I cried for her. She was losing her life. And for myself. I was losing her.

I'm going to miss Lisa Moore. I watched her through her high school years, her unwanted pregnancy, her romance with Les and eventual marriage. The anguish of having a baby nearly not survive. I watched all her friends through much of the same. Funky, Cindy and their divorce. His struggles with alcoholism. His remarriage to Holly. Cousin Wally and Becky. The Westview Scapegoats. It was home all over again and the characters seem as alive as my real friends, teachers and family.

Lisa is going to die. Tom Batiuk, the strip's creator has told us so. The strip too will change. The same holds true, according to Lynn Johnston, for For Better Or For Worse. That's okay. That's life. Kids grow up, parents and pets pass on yet they remain indelibly imprinted in my mind.

Reality and fiction. How easily they blur. It's wonderful to get a belly laugh and it's okay to cry. I'll grieve for Lisa - and her family and friends. So too I suspect will Tom Batiuk.


Word Tosser said...

It odd how we get involved with the cartoons... I have read For Better or Worse since it began I believe... and cried when Farly the dog died. Watch as April grew, and the rest of the family... it surely will be a sad day when it all ends. I have that cartoon sent to my daily email, so I wouldn't miss it when I dropped the paper.

Anonymous said...

For Better or Worse is my absolute favorite. Lynn Johnston is retiring and will only do strips part time. They will be focused on Michael and his fmily and there will be many flashbacks. Which is why we find Elizabeth back with Anthony. I began reading this strip just before April was born. When Farley died, I couldn't read the strip for a week. I was upset and kept telling myself, it is just a comic strip. This, to me, is probably the best strip ever written. I also really like Funky and will mourn Lisa. Having survived breast cancer, this is a poignant story line for me. I also enjoy Luan for some reason.

Back story lines of FBorW, can be purchased in book form. This strip is a great way to start the day.