For better or for worse, comic strips are evolving and enduring


I can't remember the exact date, but sometime during the fall of 2001, I spent about 45 minutes sitting next to Lynn Johnston, the creator of the beloved comic strip For Better or For Worse. How I became a comic strip writer is a long story not worth recounting here, but suffice it to say that I managed, in 2001, to live out a career fantasy, co-creating a comic strip called Dear Dudley, which centered on the misadventures of an advice columnist whose own life was a mess. And so I was at this seminar for comic strip writers and illustrators when suddenly, Ms. Johnston chose an empty seat in the auditorium, which just happened to be next to me. I didn't summon up the nerve to talk to her. I already knew that Dear Dudley was probably doomed to soon be a distant memory. I think we had seven newspapers carrying us when our strip ended on December 31, 2001. For Better or For Worse was a cultural phenomenon and still is, appearing in over 2,000 newspapers and 20 countries around the world.

I've been thinking about my almost-encounter with greatness because the last few weeks have been difficult for anyone who loves reading the comic strips in the newspaper, and yes, for those of you who read all of your headlines online, newspapers still exist.