ComicWorm Speaks!- Foob's Paradise
Foob’s Paradise by InsertMonikerHere
Background Info: For Better of For Worse is an American/Canadian comic strip written and drawn by Lynn Johnston. It follows the exploits of an “average” family as they live and work and play in the fictional suburban town of Milbourough, Canada. The main characters are Elly Patterson, a housewife, her husband John, a dentist, and their two children, Michael and Elizabeth and a surprise third child in the form of April Patterson. What made the comic strip stand out compared to other comics was how the characters would age in real time. The children would age from preschoolers to becoming adults and parents as the years went by
While praised for realism, the strip garnered fans that loved to hate the strip. Those fans criticized Elly’s volatile temper and that she enjoys complaining more than actual solutions and she nags and intrudes on her children’s lives and how she treated April as an annoyance or all out ignored her. Other points were John’s cluelessness to his wife, Elizabeth’s constant need for guidance and companionship, Michael’s career being writing despite his work being badly written, misogynist dreck, and that all of these characters (save April) seemed incapable of functioning on their own. These fans were called “foobs.”
What really gave the Foobs a field day was the final chapter of the comic’s decade long run. Lynn Johnston has admitted she holds very traditional views about love and marriage and the final chapter shows Elizabeth being married to childhood sweetheart who is boring as a character and a caricature of her father.
Some theorize that in the strip’s final years, Lynn Johnston’s discovery of her longtime husband’s infidelity and subsequent messy divorce caused her ‘check out’ of the comic’s intended ending and write out a highly idealized ending for her character’s stories. The new runs on the other hand, were simply the result of corporate pressure on Johnston to continue the strip instead of finding another comic, and they lacked quality due to Johnston’s heart being only half in it. The ending was criticized by many as being overly sanitized.
However…this review is not about the Newspaper Comic, although one may follow in the future, the following information was merely to set up the context, for the FANcomic strip that followed in FBorFW’s footsteps: Foob’s Paradise.
The Story: The plot of Foob’s Paradise is a divergent story from the canon ending of the original comic. The major plot lines are that Elizabeth realizes that Anthony is wrong for her and breaks up the relationship and the wedding and as a result, Elly suffers a slight mental breakdown. In fact, the sugarcoated canon ending was regarded as fantasy created by Elly. Michael and Deanna’s marriage hits a rough patch and April begins to distance herself from her family and realizes how hard it is to become a veterinarian.
The Good: As stated above, this already works in FP’s favor as FBorFW was at times regarded as too “nice” to be realistic. Kurt Vonnegut says to create a good character you have to be a sadist to them and thats exactly what the creator of FP does. The canon ending wrapped everything up nicely and the character’s lived happy lives. The consequence’s of Elly’s questionable parenting finally come to roost and the whole family suffers for it. Deanna nearly suffers a nervous breakdown herself and Elizabeth realizes that she had been letting others decide her own fate. Michael also realizes his writing stinks, in fact it is stated that his last novel Blood Cargo was a commercial failure.
We also are allowed a chance to see things from the other characters of the strip which according to canon were the “villains” such as Deanna’s mother Mira Sobinski and Therese, Anthony’s ex-wife. The strip points out that a lot of the Patterson family’s actions were unfair and failed to take into account the needs of others and that they were being selfish. Therese is shown as being forced into motherhood based on Anthony’s needs and Mira just wanted the best for her daughter and may have has some good ideas.
Speaking of Mira Sobinski, her husband, Wilf is given some much needed characterization whereas in the strip he was the stereotypical, moronic husband.
The Flaws: The biggest flaw of this comic is the artwork. No sense in sugarcoating it. While certainly much better than the Worm’s attempt’s at art, are quite amateurish and seem to be made from a “How to Draw Manga” book. The characters take a lot of their design from manga influences and don’t resemble their canon counterparts much. April changes her hair style and color several times and as a result in makes it hard to tell her apart from some of the other characters, which is another flaw. The female character’s in particular look a lot a like and this is not helped by the fact a lot of new characters are introduced. There is not a lot in regards to the backgrounds.
Also, there are a lot of gaps in the narrative, chapters that could have been expanded and more thoroughly examined. Of course, this could simply be the desire for more of FP.
Final Verdict and Thoughts: Foob’s Paradise ended after roughly two years and nothing has been heard from its creator, as far as the Worm has seen so far, since 2009. It came and went. To the author’s credit…they at least told a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Unlike many other fanworks, which just go “on hiatus” and are not touched ever again, this one finished for real and managed to wrap things up.
To the creator of Foob’s Paradise: Thank you for correcting the glaring flaws in such a famous work and we hope to see you again in another time, in another place, with another great comic.
Four out of Five Stars