It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Wistful and Wonderful

I’ve been a fan of Lynn Johnston’s comic, For Better or For Worse for twenty years. I’ve watched the children (Michael, Elizabeth, and April) grow up, the parents (Ellie and John) mature from young adulthood to middle age (just like me!). They now have grandchildren. (NOT like me! Because Haley is too young – and old enough to know it. Heh.)

One of many things I love about Lynn Johnson’s work is that it isn’t always funny. Real life happens on this strip, and readers have experienced disappointment, injustice, prejudice, and grief along with the characters. Recently, Ellie’s elderly father has had a stroke, and the family reels to adjust and accommodate and accept. In this strip, the doctor is talking to Ellie’s dad’s wife, Iris. Have a kleenex on hand? If not, go get one.

Sniff. See what I mean? Want to see the rest of the series? The strip above is a link to its original on the website, and you can follow the ‘previous’ links to get to the beginning.

And now, here’s Saturday’s strip (yes, it’s colour; we run colour strips on Saturdays up here):


I love the way Lynn allows these elderly lovers their grace and dignity – and their love. I hope, when I am old, I have someone with me to love me as Iris and Jim love each other. I also hope I have family as caring as the one that supports these people.

Updated to add: At least one reader worried about copyright violation in my reproduction of Lynn’s strips. No worries! I checked out the website, and as long as you provide a link to the FBOFW site and send an email to them with the URL, you’re allowed! No copyright violating on this site. 🙂
© 2006, Mary P

October 22, 2006 - Posted by | individuality, random and odd


  1. Heh. That second one brought tears to my eyes.

    Not necessarily a good thing when I have to leave for job#2 shortly and be all perky and bright eyed.

    But thanks. I needed that to remind me that Darren, although in his cave at the moment, would do the same for me 🙂

    Comment by Nicole | October 22, 2006 | Reply

  2. Ditto on the tears! Gosh …

    I read FBOFW everyday, actually. I’m the same age as “Michael” and have been following the strip for more than twenty years.

    Comment by laura | October 22, 2006 | Reply

  3. Me too. FBorFW is my first stop on the internet EVERY DAY. Today’s strip left me pretty teary eyed.

    Comment by Rayne of Terror | October 22, 2006 | Reply

  4. I used to have this one in my inbox daily, It’s my favorite of favorites for the same reasons you gave.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Comment by Granny | October 22, 2006 | Reply

  5. Amen, Mary. I love the way she has let the characters grow over the years.

    Comment by kittenpie | October 22, 2006 | Reply

  6. Sometimes it annoys me when the “funnies” make me cry–but FBOFW has never been one that annoys me. So dear.

    Comment by stefanierj | October 23, 2006 | Reply

  7. Phew, yes. No kids for me yet, thanks.

    I love For Better or for Worse. I read it every day, thanks to bloglines. What I really need is to own the books. There are a lot of books though!

    Comment by Haley | October 23, 2006 | Reply

  8. She is wonderful. I had the pleasure to talk to her on the phone once because of a work-related thing several years ago. She is just as lovely as her comic strip.

    Comment by sunshine scribe | October 23, 2006 | Reply

  9. I hadn’t read that comic since the boy had his first kiddo. Boy, they aged quickly! Or maybe I did…

    Comment by Undercover Mutha | October 23, 2006 | Reply

  10. I agree about FBOFW — it’s one of my favorites as well, for all the reasons you mention. The characters are simply so real, that they feel like family to me.

    I’m also eager to learn whether Elizabeth will stick with Paul the hottie police officer or if Anthony’s longing will pull her back to him. She’d be a great step-mom. (See? They seem real.)

    Comment by Allison | October 23, 2006 | Reply

  11. Yes, I read this in the paper occasionally and have always liked how the characters age so realistically. This one definitely brought a tear to my eye, though. *Sniff.*

    Comment by Kristen | October 23, 2006 | Reply

  12. I love FBorFW and read it daily. It’s even a wonderful teaching tool. She really has a knack of portraying human nature.

    Comment by Alison | October 23, 2006 | Reply

  13. I clicked on the black & white one and was pretty frightened when they blinked! When did comic strips start blinking???!?

    Comment by Tater and Tot | October 24, 2006 | Reply

  14. We could form our own fan club! Look at us all.

    I’m curious about the Elizabeth theme, too. Paul the police officer is such a great guy, but he’s up north and she’s down south, and Anthony, Anthony has had a tough go of things lately but he’s making such good out of such a mess and he’s loved Elizabeth for-EVER. I don’t know who I’m rooting for! (Personally, I hope Paul ends up falling for Elizabeth’s replacement teacher, the one who’s from the north. That would free E. up for her long-time sweetheart.)

    See? See how the characters get to you?

    I’m not sure when they started blinking. I don’t know if other strips do this, because FBoFW is the only one I’m subscribed to. It’s a relatively recent innovation. I’m not sure when I first noticed but it wasn’t very long ago, and the first time, it startled me, too. I’m still not quite decided if it’s neat or creepy…

    Comment by Mary P. | October 24, 2006 | Reply

  15. My 2 year old is now a huge FBOW fan. My parents — who have a really limited kids lit library — let her at the bookshelf on one of her typical story hunts.. She came up with the Lynn Johnston Sunday Best compendium. Love. Loves it!

    I curse it because the large format paperback is a total pain to flip pages in while nursing the baby giant but it is great. I have rediscovered my affection for the strip.

    Comment by mo-wo | October 25, 2006 | Reply

  16. I like this strip for the same reasons. I especially like the fact that the characters age. As much as I adore Calvin’s perennial little boy antics, it’s nice to have one story to follow through the years. It gives you one thing that you almost never get in regular comic strips – firsts. First dates, first babies, first grandchildren. Those moments are so fraught with humour, I’m glad someone’s capturing them.

    Comment by chosha | October 26, 2006 | Reply

  17. I am but 24 and I’ve read this strip as long as I can remember. I like how this comic strip family lives and grows, whereas others just hang in space.

    Comment by Alexandra | November 1, 2006 | Reply

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