Saturday, September 16, 2006

The End Of The Foobiverse


It’s pretty much assumed as an article of faith that when Lynn Johnston retires from For Better Or For Worse sometime in 2007, she wants to tie the package up with a nice little bow for her devoted readers. For the past years her more undevoted readers have been watching the gears of her apocalyptic plot machine grind and clunk into place. Every week now includes some anvil to the head form of foreshadowing.

Let’s review the major characters and see where the Calvinist (that’s John Calvin, not Calvin & Hobbes) staff at Foob Central is sending the characters. Unfortunately, I am calling the shots as I see them happening, not as I would like them to. For real creativity, read some of Ellcee's foefic. Here we go:

Michael and Deanna.
Michael has been locked in his Dickinsonesque dormer for months scribbling the Great Canadian Novel while still holding down the editor job at Vanity Vogue For Us Dull People. During this time he has been oblivious to his growing hellspawn except when they develop second hand smoker’s cough. Elly, who has no known publishing qualifications except taking the same community college photography course for two decades, is copy-editing this guaranteed bestseller despite the plot that sounds derivative by historical romance standards. Meanwhile the rash of pregnancies in Ontario from customers following the Deanna birth control method is overcrowding the local schools.

John Patterson.
Trains, trains, trains, trains… Sorry, I blacked out there for a minute. The most vestigial appendage of the Patterson clan has been trying to downsize the house he does no chores in for quite awhile. He’s got his eye on the neighbor’s cottage for no reason other than it fills the plot hole necessary for Mike and Deanna to move into the big house and carry on the family line. Mike needs some big moolah to buy out the equity, hence the necessity of Little House in Saskatchewan to be a huge bestseller. This is how these stories interlock in a minuet that even Shannon could figure out.


April.
April is the fifth wheel in this whole house-trading key party. As an “oops” baby, she gums up the whole go-quietly-into-the-good-night happy ever after ending. At fifteen, she is too young to send out to pasture, so the resolution of her story arc will be messy. Ever since she killed Farley, her destiny has been to atone for it by becoming a vet. Her whole trip to Alberta this summer was meant to telegraph her interest to all the readers still without clues. I think there are some hints she may even change to human medicine and cure cancer or something equally saintly. That means her garage band is doomed to failure, but Eva, the ambiguously ethnic singer for 4-Evah, will emerge as some wholesome cross between Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette.

Elly.
The matriarch and doppelganger for Lynn Johnston has had one foot out the door for years now. She sold her store because there was so much vacuuming and grammar checking to do around the house. The whole “I’m so bored with my life” ennui she now exhibits serves mainly as the central metaphor for the laziness the strip has taken on. Lynn has thrust onto Elly a quiet desperation that comes only from being stuck in a career with no escape. We can always skip the strip, but she has to live with this monster she created. Her characters yearn endlessly for retirement but there’s no Moira behind the counter to hand off the daily tedium of making the blandest comic strip characters in Canada clever and interesting.

Liz.
This mac and cheese loving schoolmarm has become the central character of the strip as her narcolepsy inducing love life resolves itself. Many people long ago predicted the inevitable Liz-(Gr)Anthony union. I was briefly fooled by Mountie Red Herring, but it is now clear that Anthony is finally going to get into Liz's rapidly expanding pants. This sniveling bushystached bookkeeper is easily the most despised character in all of Foobdom, which is what makes him so perfect for Liz. The highpoint of the entire FBorFW endgame is watching this runaway train collision unfold in slow motion. The Howard “Erk” Bunt trial as the spark for reigniting their lukewarm flame is more effective than ipecac for inducing nausea. The distastefulness of this whole rehashed sexual assault followed with violins and candles is just wrong on a near infinite number of levels. The only suspense left, if it can be called that, is how and when Paul “Dudley-Do-Me” Wright is dispatched to the ice floe of discarded suitors. My money is on him and his ethnically appropriate hook-up buddy from high school getting caught in flagrente delicto. Since this would recycle the whole Cheating Scum Boyfriend Eric plotline, the lazy storytelling is just icing on the cake.

Update (1.11.07): My prediction has come true and it is the fault of the Bad Idea Foobs.

No matter how (assuming if – there is always the chance the syndicate refuses to kill their most golden goose) the strip ends, the only guarantee is that it will be uplifting, heat-warming, and mind-numbingly vapid. Which should sell a lot of commemorative books.

Blatant Comment Whoring™: Feel free to spin out your most disturbing revenge fantasy. Be sure to include some violent graphic deaths like this one.

For my previous snarking about the foobs of the world, see this post, or this one, or even this one.

51 comments:

April Patterson said...

Bravo, yellojkt! I love the speech/thought bubbles--so spot-on!

Claude said...

I don't know...I'm looking forward to the end of FBOFW but not in the same way that I was looking forward to the dénouements of, say, M*A*S*H or The West Wing. It's more like, "Cool. Now there'll be room in the newspaper for something else." Of course, the other edge of that sword might be Gil Thorp appearing in the Baltimore Sun.

At this point I really don't care anymore. Even the attempts at heartwarming are producing a big pile of "meh" from me. They shoulda quit a couple of years ago. Now it's just Shut Up and Go Away.

Anne Nonymous said...

Naughty, yello. Screamingly funny, but naughty. You must say 20 "Hail Ellie's" and sleep on a bed of old FBOFW strips to atone for mocking the Holy Family of the Frozen North.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I wish the strip would last a while longer. With April kissing the same boy since middle school, I had foreseen an intriguing teen pregnancy storyline. But that might not be Lynn Johnston's bag.

TBG said...

I'm kinda hoping that FBOFW goes the way of Gasoline Alley and Funky Winkerbean... slowly dropped by major paper after major paper until you only see it in the Bumcrock Gazette when you're visiting relatives you only see every four years or so.

Flyboy said...

Well so much for your love-hate relationship with FBorFW.

Jennifer R said...

I fear FBOFW will get the Peanuts treatment and never actually leave the papers, but stay in rerun perpetuity.

J.Po said...

"This is how these stories interlock in a minuet that even Shannon could figure out."

Brilliant, yello! And best of luck with the Mt. Foob Legal Team!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laughs. The only reason I'm not looking forward to the demise of the strip is the others in our paper are pretty awful with the exception of 2-3. FBOFW seems worth reading, but I'm not sure why. Maybe you've seen this, but if you want to really make yourself barf, this is article that's linked to on the FBOFW website:
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/columns/syndicate_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003019472
The author believes FBOFW is the best comic in 111 of comic-syndication history! Someone needs to slap this man upside the head.

lettuce said...

Whoever made the M*A*S*H comment, now I'm stuck with an image of Michael sobbing to his psychologist: "IT. WAS. A. BAABBBYYY!!!!"

The only thing left from this was Becky's ultimate comeuppance. She represents the lot of us who were once suckered into hanging out with these people, but suddenly realized Germy Wormy Jeremy Jones had it right all along.

yellojkt said...

I see a Battle Of Singing Foobs in the future. Eva's success will be at the expense of Becky's Britney Spears-ish whoring. Thus the balance of the universe will be restored.

Mooselet said...

But what will I hate once FBOFW is gone??? Sure I read it every day and every day I grit my teeth in anger or bash my head against the desk and the foobness of it all. But that gives my afternoon meaning.

The only storyline that I absolutely dread is the Liz/Granthony pairing. I had hopes for Liz, but sadly those seem misplaced.

Liz said...

OK, I have to say that FBOFW has creeped me out since I've first read it. It started out innocently enough. I'm half Canadian and spend years 0-10 in all over Canada. My name is Elizabeth and my brother also called me "Lizardbreath", no biggie, I'm sure that happens to a lot of people with my name. I went to college to become a teacher...just like Liz, THEN I went and worked in the bush on an Indian reservation and met my boyfriend there....JUST LIKE LIZ!!!
Sometimes it scares me to read it; I don't want to know what happens next, I DON'T WANT TO KNOW!

lettuce said...

The point of this posting, Liz, is, I think, none of us want to know. But it's impossible not to.

I grew up in the same time-span as Michael, had a sister the same age as Elizabeth, became a journalist, and recieved the compilations annually from my mom who saw the strip as a parallel universe of her own, but with a cleaner house and better drama. I'd love not to *care* about FBOFW, but like any good, inextricable malignant cancer, there's no removing it. We have to watch. In slow slow slow slow mo.

And by the way, major self-props for forseeing an April-Becky showdown in the making with this week's storyline! I'm so proud of my comics telekenisis. For my next trick: Prickly City will continue to be two weeks off from the news, overly simplified and feel like a Calvin and Hobbes meets Bloom County rip-off. The topic: I'll guess Joe Lieberman.

Brendan said...

fantastic work, yellojkt, absolutely great.
I linked ot this at brendancalling.com

Edward said...

I've got a fiver that says one of the parents doesn't live to the strip's conclusion. My bet is on John. Heart attack, ball cancer, electrocution by model train...it won't be complete until it happens.

Jado said...

John can't die of ball cancer - can't die from a malady you couldn't possibly have

Anonymous said...

Here are my predictions (take 'em or leave 'em)

ELLY and JOHN: They move to Southern California in the summer of 2007 after Michael and April's tragic deaths (read below). There, they forget about their troubles and live in the comfortable heat and smog of Riverside, CA.

LIZ: She marries Mr. Wright in Vegas on New Year's Eve 2006, because Mr. Wright's ex is becoming a threat. They divorce 5 years later after 2 kids, and Liz moves in with Anthony in 2012. Anthony by this time has gained 85 pounds, is diabetic and a violent alcoholic.

APRIL: Both Becky and April fight over dating Gerald Forsythe, who slept with Becky "but nothing happened" one night in January 2007. After the two girls make up during a Toronto Feminist Convention, they become best friends again shortly after Valentine's Day. Then against the wishes of Shannon (who is being teased and hazed more than evah), April and Becky go for a "dare drive" to New York to audition for a musical performance. They get hit by a drunk driver in Queens and both die instantly. The Pattersons grieve.

IRIS & JIM: Jim has a second stroke after learning of his granddaughter's passing and dies. Iris moves to San Bernadino to be close to John and Elly.

DEANNA AND MICHAEL: Michael dies from the smoke from the fire in his apartment before Christmas in 2006. His desire to save his manuscripts was greater than his sense stay alive for his family. The Pattersons grieve again. Deanna remarries quickly to an insurance agent who was never mentioned in previous strips. She stays in Canada with the kids.

For better or for worse? Yes!!!!

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