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Funny Books - For Better Or For Worse - Never Wink At A Worried Woman

BUY Never Wink At Worried Woman (cover)
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Never Wink At A Married Woman
For Better Or For Worse
Lynn Johnston
Andrews McMeel Publishing 2005
128 pages

Never Wink At A Worried Woman is the newest For Better Or For Worse collection. Written and drawn by Canadian comic strip artist Lynn Johnston, For Better Or For Worse has been around for more than 25 years. It is a comic you immediately go to when you read the funny pages in the daily newspaper. Unlike say Hagar The Horrible or Doonesbury this strip has never become repetitive and has yet to go stale. Johnston had the instinct many years ago to allow her characters, the Patterson family, to grow as people grow in real life. She was and is still able to write, make jokes, and find humor in the day-to-day events that ordinary people, like the Pattersons and her readers, live through every day. Perhaps the greatest thing you can say about any artist and her creation is that she and it are dependable. You can depend on Lynn Johnston for a good smile and a laugh or two.

Like the strip itself, Never Wink At A Worried Woman is solid. The Patterson family is slowly growing apart as Michael and Deana are making a life for themselves with baby Meredith, Elizabeth - Lizardbreath - is learning to be a teacher, and the baby of the family, April, is becoming a teenager. Not that everything changes: Elly still worries about all of her children, the two dogs, her aging father, and husband John. Johnston also gives you an update on the various secondary characters that revolve around the Pattersons like Gordon the mechanic, Elizabeth's ex, Anthony, who is now married, and the people at Elly's store.

The genius of this strip is that Lynn Johnston has set it up so she can have her cake and eat it too. April is becoming a teenager just when Elizabeth has become a woman allows Johnston to still write about the tribulations of raising a temper tantrum prone adolescent while also drawing about a young woman finding her way around her career. Baby Meredith allows her to revisit the humour her readers liked in the strips about April growing up. This is simply brilliant as it allows this comic strip artist to keep her long-time fans satisfied while always gaining new ones who can better relate to a young family or to Grandpa Jim growing old.

Another strong point about this daily comic strip is Johnston can definitely vary her tone. Some strips are simply goofy, others funny, some will make you think about the point she is making, and others will definitely make you burst out laughing. A personal favorite in this latest collection is the second strip on p.29 when Michael writes a cheque to pay back a loan his mother made and Elly hesitating to cash it because it is a historical document in itself. I like that sometimes sarcastic yet sincere tone in this strip just as much as I love the look on Michael s face in the last panel.

If there is one weakness about Never Wink At A Worried Woman is that it leaves you wanting more. You get to page 128 and you want to know what happens next. Unlike say Calvin and Hobbes or Close To Home, two other favorite strips, no For Better Or For Worse collection is complete in itself. 

Well, maybe there is yet another weak point Johnston' s strip. If you buy it as a gift you must never, ever start reading it because then you ll read the entire book in one sitting and face the awful decision of either being a slimeball for give a used book as a gift or having to go and buy another copy because you find it too hard to part with the copy you are holding.



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