FBorFW News
Questions and Answers For Better or For Worse® Is In Repeats!

FBorFW originally ran from 1979 to 2008. In 2008, Lynn retired, and now you're seeing re-published, older strips in newspapers and on our site. For more about this, see our Growing Up All Over Again area.

Click any question to reveal the answer.

FAQs That Cover All 30 Years of FBorFW

Are you new to the strip? Glad you could join us! Because the 30-year collection is available in books, and in our Strip Catalog, many readers have read and are familiar with the whole strip, or at least part of it, so the questions here span the entire run of FBorFW. We put any "spoiler" questions at the bottom of the page, so you can stop before you get there if you want.

Common Questions:

1. Can you please come out of retirement?

I will not be doing any more new For Better or For Worse material. Here's the thing: I am having real problems with my vision. My hands are unsteady as well, so it takes me more than twice as much time to write and draw as it used to. I fight just to focus my eyes and am constantly having to "white out" my mistakes.

It used to be fun and fast and I loved it. Now, it's something I truly struggle to produce. Sad to say, I just can't continue. Thanks for asking. I'm glad you've enjoyed this saga!

2. Where does Lynn get her ideas?
First and foremost, from her imagination, along with the constant threat of a deadline!
3. Did the characters really age in real time?
When the strip began in 1979, Michael was already three or four, and Elizabeth was a toddler. We kept the ages static until our own children, Aaron and Kate, were three years older than the kids in the strip — and then I allowed the characters to age annually. This has made for some questions about actual dates and ages, when they don't line up perfectly.
4. How did Lynn get started?
In a nutshell: Lynn was pregnant with her first child, Aaron, and was drawing several single panel comics for her obstetrician, who encouraged her to seek a publisher. The comics were published in a book; David, We're Pregnant! Two more books followed, a Syndicate took notice, and the rest is history. For a more detailed bio on Lynn and how she started, please read our About Lynn page.

5. How do I start a cartooning career?
A comic strip comes from many sources. You need experience in art, drama and creative writing. Ideas and gags should come naturally to a comic artist - because once you're into the race, you can't get out! You may find yourself working with a friend on a mutual storyline. My best advice is to find a copy of "Your Career in the Comics" by Lee Nordling, published by Andrews & McMeel. It will be an invaluable resource. Good luck with your cartooning. The world needs more of us!
6. Is the strip autobiographical?
The strip is very loosely based on Lynn's own life. At first, there were distinct similarities between Lynn's family and the Pattersons but later on the strip departed greatly from Lynn's life.
7. How many years has FBorFW been published?
The strip has been in syndication since 1979! In 2008, Lynn ended the ongoing storyline, and you're now seeing the strip in repeats. For more info, see our Growing Up All Over Again section.
8. Why did my paper drop FBorFW?
Each newspaper's comics editor makes the decision about what to keep or remove, and we're not told which paper has dropped FBorFW (or why), so often we don't find out until someone writes to us. If you want it reinstated, your best option is to write to your newspaper directly and ask nicely. This often works!
9. There's an offensive ad on your website!
Please use the "report this ad" link under the bad advert, and report it to our advertising partner. They'll take care of it.
10. You messed something up! Who can I tell?
Send a note to our website developer, Steph.

Anachronisms in the strip: since the strip is in repeats, sometimes things which were normal or common in the 80s will reappear in the strip and make no sense. Sometimes we can fix these in advance, and sometimes we just have to let them slide.

Something broken on the site: please do tell us about this — fborfw.com is very large, and has lots of "moving parts", so sometimes we don't notice an issue right away. You will generally get a personal response from a real human, so please be kind.

If you're reporting a technical problem, please tell us whatever you can about your computer: Mac or Windows? Laptop, desktop or phone? What operating system, and what browser?

11. Can I buy a strip that I like?

We have donated all of Lynn's original art to Library and Archives Canada, so originals are hard to find — sometimes somebody will be selling one on eBay, but we don't offer them ourselves.

You may, however, order prints of almost any strip from our store. You just have to know the date of the strip you want, which you can find out by searching our Strip Catalog.

12. Are Lynn and FBorFW Canadian?
Absolutely! Lynn is Canadian, and has lived in several different parts of the country (currently she's in Vancouver, B.C.). The strip itself takes place in a small, fictional city called Milborough in Southern Ontario, not far from Toronto.

At first Lynn's syndicate wanted FBorFW to be US-based, but Lynn insisted it remain Canadian, or she wouldn't sign the contract!
The Patterson Family: Elly, John, Michael, Elizabeth and Farley

The Strip Itself

1. Are the characters based on real people?
Some of them are, and some are simply designed by Lynn, based on her imagination. Sometimes she models them after people she finds in catalogs or magazines. The ones who are based on real people often carry those peoples' names, and sometimes we just make the names up too! You can learn more about the real people who appeared in the strip here.
2. Is it easier to write plot for a completely fictional character than it is for characters who have some connection to real family members?
Lynn says, "No. In my mind all the characters are fictional now. At one time, however, when Mike and Liz lived at home, I was careful not to use family material that could embarrass Aaron and Katie!"
3. The change in style of the artwork over the past 30 years: is this just natural development?
Lynn always worked to grow and improve as an artist, and so over the years of FBorFW, the art became more complex and realistic. This evolution in her drawing style allowed her to challenge herself. Heights and facial lines are always important, but the enlargement of the nose also takes away the look of innocent childhood!
4. What's with the expanding noses?

I was nasally inconsistent — both with the dogs and the people — especially Elly. My son once asked why Elly had an "inflatable nose" and I had to admit that when she was in a bad mood, her nose was larger than it was when she was being sweet and kind.

Noses are a kind of cartoon crutch...so are eyes. The bigger the nose and eyes are, the less room there is for brain space! Too bad this isn't a gauge of intellect in real life. There would be a lot of folks sporting large honkers and googly eyes! Anyway, I appreciate the question. I have no serious answer. A nose by any other size... is still a nose.

5. How did you know you were aging the characters properly in your art?

When it came to making the children in the strip look older, I just checked the average height charts, changed faces and hairstyles slightly and "grew them up"! Elly and John stayed much the same except for jowls, tummies, and glasses.

I kind of compare the drawing of cartoon characters to you writing your signature. It is never exactly the same, but it's easily recognized as yours because the elements you include are always there. If you look at the signature you signed with 10 years ago, it will have changed from the signature you use today — but it is still recognizably yours. Cartoon characters evolve in much the same way.

6. When you draw the strip, do you actually draw in those tiny little boxes?
They're drawn in a 29cm x 9.5cm rectangle and the newspapers reduce them to fit their own page format. There is a limit to which they can be shrunk according to our contracts, but papers shrink and sometimes squash them anyway! We just hope they're legible.
7. The top panel of your Sunday strip has been chopped off by our local newspaper. What's the deal with that?
Some papers do that, in order to save space in the funny pages for more strips. Lynn makes a point of not including any plot-essential illustrations in those top panels, just because we know they are often removed. You can always find the entire Sunday comic on our website.

Character Q's

1. Who are Lynn's favourite characters to draw?
Most favourite: Edgar. Her least favourite is Elly.
2. Is Lawrence African-American?
Lawrence is Canadian; his mom is Elly's friend Connie (a Canadian) and his Dad was from Brazil. Lawrence's mother met Lawrence's father in Ecuador where she was working at the time. He elected not to follow her back to Canada. Lawrence eventually met his father.
3. Where did Michael get the idea to call Liz "Lizardbreath?"
He just has a way with words, and Lizardbreath is very close in sound and spelling to Elizabeth.
4. Is Dee's full name pronounced "DeeANNA" or "DEEna"?
It's "DeeANNA".
5. Is Jim's service with RCAF Squadron 408 based on that of an actual person?
Yes - Lynn's father, Mervyn Ridgway, was a member of the 408 Squadron. Lynn's mother served in the army too. Learn more here.
6. What are Mike and Liz's middle names?
Liz's middle name is Deborah, and Mike's is Thomas.
7. Do you know people in real life with the names of the family's friends?

Many names came from friends and second names of family members. Some came from people I knew as a child and some I just made up.

When you choose a name for a comic strip character, it's important! Eventually these characters grow into the names that you give them, and sometimes they suprise you.

Connie, for example was named for an art teacher I had. Connie Watson and I did not get along at all! I thought the Connie character would be a negative influence. Later in life, I met the daughter of the art teacher I clashed with...and discovered that she was a wonderful person. It was the teenage ME that needed work! Perhaps this is why "Connie" in the strip became a friend.

It's quite an adventure, doing this kind of work. The characters often take on lives of their own!! Thanks for asking.

8. Deanna's mother, Mira, was referred to as "Eva" in one of her early appearances. What gives?
She wasn't quite solidified at that point. She's officially Mira Sobinski now. We're impressed that you noticed!
9. If John's model railroad is outside, how does he protect it when it rains?
He brings it into the garage for the winter at around Halloween. The tracks and buildings can handle the rain, and the engines and cars are portable enough to be brought out when he wants to "play".

Books, Collectibles, Etc.

1. Where can I get "out of print" books?
You can get the out of print books on Ebay, from Amazon.com on occasion, or at second hand bookstores (call them and ask for any old books to be reserved for you; these places are great!)
2. How many videos have you made?

The first video was "The Bestest Present", made in 1985, which won the Gemini award for best writing..

There was also a series of six animated half-hour specials produced for television broadcast in 1990.

In 1999 a new series of 16 half-hour tv shows were produced. We don't currently own the rights to these shows, so we can't sell them, and they're not currently available on television.

3. Are Tonner dolls still available?
Tonner Doll Company produced Edgar, April, and Becky dolls for a period of time. They've now been retired, but will occasionally pop up on eBay.
4. Why was there no collection book in 2004?
For Better or For Worse turned 25 in 2004! To celebrate this milestone, we released an anniversary retrospective book with the title "Suddenly Silver". Our loyal readers will have noticed that we published two collection books in 2003: With This Ring and Reality Check. After we caught our breath from publishing our 25th anniversary book, we published another double dose of collection books in the spring and fall of 2005.
5. How can I see the animated series that ran on Teletoon in Canada?
As of right now, you can't. The company that produced the series sold the rights to another company. After a series of mergers and changes of ownership, the current holder of the rights is looking for a way to make the series available. We'll let you know as soon as we find something out!
6. It seems as though the collections that are published are not totally complete - is there any way of getting all the strips?
For reasons related to printing logistics, we occasionally had to omit a strip or two from a collection book, although this is a rare occurrence. We're working on a complete treasury edition of Lynn's work, which you can find here at IDW Publishing!
7. How can I read the strip sequentially from the beginning?
You can find a list of all Lynn's books here. The list is printable so you can take it to the library or your local bookstore. We also have the entire collection online in our database. Visit this page to start reading 1979 strips.

Strip Trivia

1. Was Farley named after Farley Mowat?
Farley the sheepdog was in fact named after the author, Farley Mowat. This led to a long correspondence between Lynn and the Mowat family — fortunately, Mr. Mowat was flattered to have a cartoon dog bearing his name.
2. In the animated special "The Bestest Present" from the 80s, Rod, Aaron, and Kate are listed in the cast. Why?
Aaron voiced Michael, Kate voiced Elizabeth, and Rod voiced the mailman who delivered Elizabeth's bunny.
3. Is Philpott's Department Store real?
I just thought the name Philpott sounded like a well-established family business. I made it up!
4. In some strips, an object that looks like a glove is hanging from the ceiling. What is that, please?
That's John's "fickle finger". It just hangs from the ceiling, and is a lingering piece of bachelor decor that has shown up in the strip from time to time, usually at Michael's apartments.
5. Why in all of the books, is Elly always shown as pushing John away sexually?
Um....I didn't know she came across that way. Perhaps I thought it was funny?

Got a Question?

Want to ask us something? Send a note to design@fborfw.com. We'll either try to give you a personal response, or we'll post an answer here if we think it'll be interesting to everyone.

Spoilerish Questions:

A collage of characters. This creates some separation above the spoiler content.
1. At what point did Elly start wearing her hair in a bun??? I need to know!!!
Elly got a haircut she hated in January of 1996, and in reaction, on the 26th of January, the bun makes its first proper appearance. She's had it ever since. This would have shown up in the Love Just Screws Everything Up book.
2. What kind of dog is Edgar?
Edgar is part Old English Sheepdog (Farley was his father) and part Yellow Lab (from his mother, Sera).
3. What breed of dog is Dixie? She is terribly cute!
She's a Sheltie.
4. Is there a reason that in your strips you have addressed the "issue" of being gay in guys but not girls?
Nope, it just happened that Lawrence was the first gay character, and FBorFW just hasn't had any lesbian characters (that we know of!)
5. I remember strips where John got a vasectomy. But then later you had April. Am I confused?
Lynn says "He didn't have a vasectomy, that I know of. But I think it's a great idea! In John's case, an eraser would do the job. He should consider it."
6. If the comic is based on the real family, where did April come from?
Remember, the Pattersons are indeed fictional. April appeared both because the strip needed a fresh face, and because of Lynn's own desire to have another child. April, in a way, fulfilled that desire.
7. I know that Lynn and Charles Schulz were dear friends. Did Lynn chose to name Michael and Deanna's daughter after Mr. Schulz's daughter?
Yes - Merrie was named after Meredith Schulz.
8. Elly drives a Crevasse. Is there such a vehicle?
There isn't really such a car as a Crevasse, no. Lynn thought the word was funny and would make a good name for a car. Similarly. John had initially wanted a high-end, sporty "Pavo" to drive - that's Spanish for "turkey".