For Better or For Worse, by Lynn Johnston
From Wikipedia: “For Better or For Worse is a comic strip by Lynn Johnston that ran originally from 1979 to 2008 chronicling the lives of the Patterson family and their friends, in the town of Milborough, a fictitious suburb of Toronto, Ontario. Now running as reruns, For Better or For Worse is still seen in over 2,000 newspapers throughout Canada, the United States and about 20 other countries.”
Today, in history, this comic strip was launched in 1979. It was an eye-opener for me, as I’d never considered what it must be like to be the wife in a late 70’s marriage. (Not precisely true, since I did take care of Amy while Suzann went to work after we first married in the summer of 1978: I definitely preferred going out to work…)
This daily view into the Patterson family dynamic lasted longer than my second marriage. The fact that it was from a Canadian perspective helped keep the home fires burning during the 22 years I lived in England (yes, we got it in the daily papers, there).
The strip is perhaps best known for the fact that, unlike most comic strips, it took place more or less in real time for most of its run. Michael and Elizabeth were a young child and a toddler at the strip’s beginning, and by the end had grown into adults, with Michael married and raising his own children while Elizabeth married at the end of the strip. Youngest child April was born 11 years into the strip’s run and was roughly 16 at the strip’s conclusion.
During its run, the strip was also celebrated for its realism, eschewing cartoon stereotypes in favor of a nuanced, relatable look at typical adult, child and teen concerns. A storyline in which a supporting character came out as gay cemented this reputation, as well as various stories dealing with prejudice, bullying, the mentally and physically handicapped, theft, cheating and abuse. The Pattersons were often shown as a good, “normal” family, often forced to deal with others from broken homes or worse situations.
The Final Strip
Thanks for the memories, Lynn Johnston.