Real life in the comics

March 04, 1998|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

If you read "For Better or For Worse," you've seen it coming. The comic strip known for taking on such tough family issues as child beating and teen-age homosexuality is heading toward another painful theme: the death of an elderly parent.

Elly Patterson's mother passes away in today's strip. The subject hit home for creator Lynn Johnston, whose parents died about eight years ago. United Feature Syndicate passed along these comments from Johnston:

"It was a challenge to revisit all those emotions, but I wanted the challenge because it gave me a chance to put some unresolved issues to rest and to rewrite some things I didn't like about how it happened in my life. For example, my brother couldn't be there when my mother died, but in the 'For Better or For Worse' story line, Elly's brother Phil is able to be there. My brother called me to say he really appreciated the way I'd done it. We can't rewrite history, but it felt good to me to share a more positive experience."

Public response to the story line has been good, Johnston reports. "This is what happens to people Elly's age -- my age," she says. "Death is part of life and showing it in a comic strip somehow seems to make people feel better."

Pub Date: 3/04/98

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