'For Better or For Worse'

Dateline: Fri 12 Sep 2008

Let's be honest. Some of us read the paper with anticipation of the dessert at the end: the comic strips.

Goodness knows, the pickings are slim there these days -- lots of low-fat and unsatisfying offerings -- but many, especially women, enjoyed Lynn Johnston's long-running family-saga series, 'For Better or For Worse.'

So it was with great surprise that in the first week of September, with character Elizabeth's wedding in full swing and Grandpa Jim clinging to life, the strip vanished from the Star. Did anyone else read any notice of its demise in our daily newspaper? I did a search, and I could find nothing.

If you're curious -- in other words, if you're a "Lifetime Movie Network" estrogen theater type person -- here's the backstory.

The strip wound up Sunday with a splashy, colorful finale and a neat summary of each character's life. I'll spare you the gory details, but if you're interested, there's a link at the bottom. Of course, Star readers never saw that strip, since the paper does not carry the Sunday version -- too expensive, no doubt.

After research, I found that, as I'd read before, Johnston had in fact planned to end her strip on Aug. 31 and fade into blissful retirement: travel with her dentist husband, etc. But then life turned ugly, her husband found a younger woman and left her, and she decided to keep working. Her new strip -- not carried by the Star -- shows main character Elly as a young mom trying to cope with two rascally kids and an indifferent hubby. Seems as if Johnston has a little bit of anger poking thru.

Anyhow, the main point -- the strip was well loved, even tho, God knows, it was sappy and in many ways out of touch. Still, how many comics deal with both the death of a dog and grandparents? Some of us liked it, and many of us were curious about what the heck happened.

The Star should have carried a story explaining all this in its features section. It would have been nice.

But the Washington Post did. Here's the link, which will also lead you to the cartoon finale.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-for-better-or-for-worse-ends-0904,0,2345637.story

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