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Comic strip will continue, start over

August 15, 2008|Sherry Stern | Times Staff Writer

The creator of the popular comic strip "For Better or for Worse" has had a change of heart -- literally and figuratively -- and won't be retiring after all. Lynn Johnston announced Wednesday that, beginning Sept. 1, "For Better or for Worse" will be retold in a blending of repeat and new comic strips.

Not long ago, Johnston, 61, had planned to retire this year and offer mostly reruns of her 29-year-old comic strip. But her life changed when her husband fell in love with another woman and the couple divorced. "At this time in my life, I thought I would be on a cruise ship to Panama or the Mediterranean, retired with my Tilley hats, my sneakers. But I'm a single lady now, and I want to keep working," she said in a video posted on You Tube.

Come September, Johnston said, "For Better or for Worse" will be a 50-50 mix of old and new comics, but the new comics will be drawn in what she called a "retro" style.

"I want it to flow into the classic material seamlessly," she said.

For the last year, "For Better or for Worse" has switched back and forth between old and new stories, but Johnston said "that became very confusing. Some people really enjoyed it, and some just wanted us to get on with the story."

Johnston will select material from her collection of almost 10,000 archival strips to help retell the Patterson family's story, starting at the beginning. She said she will revert to her earlier drawing style: "Over the years, Elly's nose grew up to the size of a potato. Now I'm drawing it smaller again, the way it was when I first started to draw. There is a huge difference between the earlier and the later styles."

"For Better or for Worse" runs in The Times and more than 2,000 other papers around the world.

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