Thursday, August 14, 2008

If The Last Words Aren't "For Better Or For Worse," Some People Stand To Lose A Lot Of Money

The comic strip For Better or For Worse is scheduled to end on August 30.

Well, not exactly "end." Stephen Pastis summed it up best:

However, Lynn Johnston has confirmed that the last new strip will run on Aug. 30, five days after the August 25 "Lizthony" wedding strip which for some bizarre reason is taking place on the fifth anniversary of Anthony's first comic-strip marriage (to the ill-fated Therese), and spoiler-types have confirmed that it will be a lengthy "here's what's going to happen to the rest of the characters for the rest of their lives."

There is already all kinds of snark going around about what wonderful things Johnston has planned for her characters (Michael winning a Pulitzer Prize, April marrying Gerald). Ever since it was leaked that Johnston's marriage had fallen apart, people began noticing that her strips started centering only on the "for better" part of life, as if she were insisting her characters have all the fantasy happiness she wished she were experiencing herself. (Seriously. Read the link. It explains why she decided to pull a 180 and pass Liz off to Anthony instead of Paul.) That's all well and good, but it turned her strip from a tongue-in-cheek look at the ups-and-downs of daily life into a parade of unrealistic Mary Sue adventures, which, in turn... prompted all the snark.

Anyway. The thought of a "here's what will happen for the rest of their lives" ending focused entirely on success and happiness made me think of how another author, with equally beloved characters, handled a similar situation.

From Louisa May Alcott's Jo's Boys:

It is a strong temptation to the weary historian to close the present tale with an earthquake which should engulf Plumfield and its environs so deeply in the bowels of the earth that no youthful Schliemann could ever find a vestige of it. But as that somewhat melodramatic conclusion might shock my gentle readers, I will refrain, and forestall the usual question, 'How did they end?' by briefly stating that all the marriages turned out well. The boys prospered in their various callings; so did the girls, for Bess and Josie won honours in their artistic careers, and in the course of time found worthy mates. Nan remained a busy, cheerful, independent spinster, and dedicated her life to her suffering sisters and their children, in which true woman's work she found abiding happiness. Dan never married, but lived, bravely and usefully, among his chosen people till he was shot defending them, and at last lay quietly asleep in the green wilderness he loved so well, with a lock of golden hair upon his breast, and a smile on his face which seemed to say that Aslauga's Knight had fought his last fight and was at peace. Stuffy became an alderman, and died suddenly of apoplexy after a public dinner. Dolly was a society man of mark till he lost his money, when he found congenial employment in a fashionable tailoring establishment. Demi became a partner, and lived to see his name above the door, and Rob was a professor at Laurence College; but Teddy eclipsed them all by becoming an eloquent and famous clergyman, to the great delight of his astonished mother. And now, having endeavoured to suit everyone by many weddings, few deaths, and as much prosperity as the eternal fitness of things will permit, let the music stop, the lights die out, and the curtain fall for ever on the March family.

Alcott came this close to ending it with "rocks fall, everyone dies." ^__^ Which I have always thought was just fantastic.

We'll see if Johnston pulls off her denouement with half the class.

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