It’s been a while since I’ve visited the Foobiverse. I have previously talked about the history of For Better or For Worse and its major characters as well as the supporting cast. Today I will take you on a guided tour behind the scenes of Foob Central, also known as Lynn Johnston Productions, Inc as operated by Entercom Canada Inc (ECI). The FBorFW website is a wealth of information and entertainment that takes foob fandom to a whole new level. So, let’s go!
The first stop is logically enough a tour of the Foob Art Studios. Running an internationally syndicated comic strip is a big job requiring lots of highly skilled artists and business people. Well, at least 6 people. We have Lynn and her assistants that do the grunt work Lynn doesn’t care to, like inking and lettering, and colouring and five people to handle the business end.
For our purposes, the most important person is Stephanie Van Doleweerd, the webmaster of the entire site. She is responsible for making sure the opening splash page has a seasonally relevant theme, getting the monthly letters posted, updating all the fun and games (which I’ll discuss later) and keeping the Strip Fix archives up to date. A unique feature of CyberFoobWorld is that in addition to a very deep archive of recent strips that goes back to January 2003, there is a separate nostalgia archive for the older strips, so you can decide for yourself if the strip was funnier back when it was more sloppily drawn and less strident.
Comics are a big business and there a lot of licensing issues to insure that characters and artwork are properly paid for and that copyrights are protected. I’m not sure which of these people is in charge of websearching for bloggers that cut and paste the strips onto personal websites, but that person does one heck of a job.
Ending our tour of the backstage area, is a series of pages devoted to Lynn’s charity work with sick animals, background on her fascination with First Nation culture, and details about the animated version of the strip. Thanks to Canadian content broadcast laws, the audience in the Great White North can catch it on Teletoon. Yanks have to buy the DVD to catch all the drama and love of the Pattersons in full animation.
FborFW is one of the few comics that actually has a dedicted website. Others in this rarified realm include Garfield and Doonesbury. For comics large enough to merit grand stand alone websites, instead of dinky templated web pages from their syndicate, they all have on an odd fascination with silly games and stunts. Considering the target age of Garfield fans, this is understandable. But if you want to play chess on-line why does it matter if you play against Mike, when chess is nearly ubiquitous on the web? John’s little Flash game is particularly strange. And why is Deanna the word search maven? If you don’t want to play games you can look at unpublished artwork, or scroll through all the fan-submitted photos and letters on April’s Blog (the official one, not the "real" one.
And if you have ever wondered what April looks like in her underwear, and I do not want to know if you have, the April Paper Doll page is where to go. They have both topless toddler April and teen April, kind of like the choice between young Elvis and fat Elvis.
And every tour ends with a stop at the gift shop. Here is where you can put your wallet to the test. There is a huge branded CafePress outlet where you can get your choice from about a dozen daily or Sunday strips put on about every style of clothing and tchotke that CafePress sells. Unfortunately, the strip selection doesn’t have the famous “roadside gig” episode that would be the immediate bestseller. You can get an autographed copy of it for $45. I dare you. At the higher end there are animation cels, autographed books, and bunny jewelry. They even have Christmas gifts for all your foob-friends.
This is the end of the guided tour, but feel free to wander around some more and try to find Ned. There are lots of places to explore that I haven’t even touched on. In the near future, I will draw back the curtain and we will peer straight down Mt. Foob.
Foob Lawyers: I know that on your site you say: “All of the copyrights and trademarks on this site remain the property of Entercom Canada Inc. Any unauthorized use of these images is strictly prohibited.” I have linked to images from the FBorFW.com website according to my right for fair use. All the links are altered in size from the original and refer back to the original source. I have not “copied” or “stolen” anything from you. If you put something on the web, I can link to it. It’s that simple. If you don’t believe me, the folks at the EFF can set you straight.
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