Comics I Don’t Understand – This site is now being updated daily at Please change your bookmark if necessary, and notify any web site with a link to the old address.

October 21, 2007

For Worse

Filed under: Bill Bickel, CIDU, comic strips, comics, dreams, elephants, FBOFW, For Better or For Worse, humor — Cidu Bill @ 2:42 am


“Just watch, we’re going to see a strip now where John is leaving Elly for another woman”
“No, Bill, Lynn Johnston wouldn’t do anything that petty”

Oh, and can anybody explain that first panel?


  1. !! I just saw this too… She’s really letting it all out huh.

    The first panel.. I guess she had to set up some reason to include the older strip, but it’s the most ham-handed setup ever.

    Comment by dd — October 21, 2007 @ 3:31 am

  2. Even setting aside the hamhandedness… How does having a recurring nightmare correspond to having the memory of an elephant. And for that matter if Elly has that nightmare often enough that John knows which nightmare she’s talking about, this is a marriage with some serious issues.

    Comment by Cidu Bill — October 21, 2007 @ 3:53 am

  3. Yeah, I was thinking about that too… It seems to me that a more natural response would have been “What dream?”.

    Comment by John W. — October 21, 2007 @ 4:21 am

  4. Holy —- !

    Wow. Fury and woman scorned and all that.

    Comment by El Santo — October 21, 2007 @ 4:25 am

  5. I think panel 1 is set in the “present” and the others flash back to the (fairly distant) past. By saying she had the dream “again” we know she remembers the long-ago first time…

    Comment by Brian Leahy — October 21, 2007 @ 10:47 am

  6. I did that to my husband once. Had a nightmare that I had a miscarriage and he criticized me (in the dream) for doing it wrong. I woke up mad at him for not being sympathetic to my trauma.

    I knew it was irrational, but I stayed annoyed at him for a couple of days.

    Comment by Dawn H — October 21, 2007 @ 12:41 pm

  7. John just compared Elly to an elephant. Wait, did he just call her fat?

    Comment by Eric — October 21, 2007 @ 1:46 pm

  8. I think that, in the first panel, he’s saying that she remembers dreams extraordinarily well, or remembers her recurring dreams for a long time.

    The “joke” here is that he apologizes for something he couldn’t possibly be responsible for – the content of her dreams.

    Comment by brien — October 21, 2007 @ 4:54 pm

  9. I didn’t get that elephant panel in my paper, but reading this strip, which seems circa 1983, I literally said “YEOUCH!!!” considering what the Johnstons are going through right now.

    Comment by Rasheed — October 21, 2007 @ 11:09 pm

  10. As I said a couple of weeks ago, it could be worse: Lynn could have gone all Lisa Moore on him.

    Comment by Cidu Bill — October 21, 2007 @ 11:28 pm

  11. *blink* That doesn’t even look like Lynn Johnston’s art style, except for the “elephant” panel. But it has Lynn’s signature. What’s going on here?

    Comment by furrykef — October 22, 2007 @ 4:01 am

  12. I agree with Brian’s comment, #5. Only the first panel is in the present. Johnston’s counting on her long-time readers to recognize her old style drawing (which she’s been using lately) to represent a flashback.
    The actual joke here, cleverly,is the first panel. Notice that in the last panel he gives a confused apology. In the first panel, the true punchline is that he makes note of her long memory, but barely wakes up for it, essentially saying, “go back to sleep, Elly.”
    also: Elly – Elephant. ha ha

    Comment by Jim — October 22, 2007 @ 5:10 am

  13. I also agree that it’s particularly creepy and sad given the fact that Elly’s “dream” came true recently for Lynn Johnston. Is this some attempt to zing him? or was this written before she knew he was leaving her?

    (somehow I don’t think she’ll put that info on her website.)

    Comment by laterain — October 22, 2007 @ 7:19 am

  14. Jim, I have the opposite reaction. Despite the explanations here, the first panel still makes no sense. I find the older strip pretty funny, though. Like Dawn/Elly, I’ve been irrationally mad at people for things they did in dreams. I’ve also dreamt that I had an affair, and felt vaguely guilty for several hours after I woke up.

    Comment by Autumn Harvest — October 22, 2007 @ 9:41 am

  15. My paper also left off the intro panel, so there was no “present day” setup for the flashback strip, making me wonder if the paper paid full price for the strip, or if they got a discount for the old strip.

    And yes, waking up from an upsetting dream can leave you confused and incoherent, temporarily. But, she’s something like 30 years old, she has to have had bad dreams before, and once past the shock should be able to handle them without histrionics. That’s the part that annoyed me.

    Comment by David — October 22, 2007 @ 10:09 am

  16. #14 — there’s only one reason for the first panel: the new For Better or Worse hybrid format. That is, Lynn (the cartoonist) had originally decided to retire around this time. She had set up the strip to be re-runs: characters would recall events from the past, and they would segue into a “classic” For Better or Worse. (The weekday strip has been following Mike Patterson’s flashbacks, too.) So the first panel is only just a present-day set up for an older reprinting.

    Comment by El Santo — October 22, 2007 @ 11:43 am

  17. I don’t have the entire FBOFW collection, but I have the first three books, then pick up the series from 1990 to now. The style doesn’t look like the early EARLY ones I have, but seems slighly less developed then the later books I have.

    Anyway, all the flashbacks she’s been doing (except the first “hybrid”) are recycled strips from the early years. Except for talking heads and captions, they’ve all been exactly the same from back then.

    Comment by Rasheed — October 22, 2007 @ 12:31 pm

  18. El Santo, I know that it’s supposed to be a seque into a classic FBOFW. I’m just saying it’s a nonsensical segue (for reasons already stated at #1-#3).

    David, for large Sunday comics, the first two panels are often “throwaway” panels, which means that some papers include them, and some of them don’t. The artist is supposed to write the strip so that it makes sense with or without the throwaway panels. This is a standard thing, regardless of whether the strip is doing “classic” flashbacks.

    Comment by Autumn Harvest — October 22, 2007 @ 1:39 pm

  19. I’m familiar with the throwaway panels, and I’m with Bill Watterson on considering them a tool of the devil. With the throwaway panel, there’s the new “joke” of her still having the same dream 20+ years later. Without it, it’s just an old cartoon.

    My paper puts FBOW first on the front page of the Sunday comics, but doesn’t pay for the extra 2 panels. However, they do buy them for Beetle Bailey.

    Comment by David — October 22, 2007 @ 5:19 pm

  20. A bit off-subject, but I just noticed that at least one of the daily strips on the FBOFW website is an animated gif – if you watch the first 2 panels closely, Michael blinks occasionally. Oy. Why bother?

    There may be other strips, too, but there is where I noticed it….

    Comment by Laurie Wylie — October 22, 2007 @ 11:28 pm

  21. I cannot help but think of a verse from a Ben Folds song:

    “The sun’s coming up
    She’s pulled all the blankets over
    Curled in a ball
    Like she’s hiding from me and
    That’s when I know
    She’s gonna be pissed when she wakes up
    For terrible things I did to her in her dreams”

    I think a lot of us have been there!

    Comment by Molly — October 22, 2007 @ 11:55 pm

  22. Ah, so this strip’s a rerun. That explains the art style discrepancy.

    “A bit off-subject, but I just noticed that at least one of the daily strips on the FBOFW website is an animated gif – if you watch the first 2 panels closely, Michael blinks occasionally. Oy. Why bother?”

    I saw that on other strips. I really hate it… it’s a stupid and distracting gimmick. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should…

    – Kef

    Comment by furrykef — October 23, 2007 @ 3:51 am

  23. “My paper puts FBOW first on the front page of the Sunday comics, but doesn’t pay for the extra 2 panels. However, they do buy them for Beetle Bailey.”

    I do believe that there’s no extra charge for the “extra 2 panels.” From what I understand, newspapers receive all of the panels, but may choose to drop the first two to be able to cram more comics (or ad content, most likely) onto the page.

    Comment by Rob in Japan — October 23, 2007 @ 11:49 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: