What’s Going On In Mary Worth? Muffins And Despair. February – May 2018

Dear Wendy, have you ever tried to explain Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth? Have you ever got angry about a story, and worried about that anger considering you’ve been offended by two Gil Thorp storylines in a row now?

Signed, Person Writing From So Far After Mid-May 2018 That This Essay Isn’t Any Use Anymore.

Dear Person: Of course! I try about every three months to recap the plot in Mary Worth. You should find my most recent essays at this page. And oh yes, I get offended by some story developments and I’m not even talking about Gil Thorp for three more weeks yet. When you get angered by story strips you might see what mathematically-themed comic strips are out there. See whether a bunch of jokes about students misunderstanding a word problem make you feel better about life.

— Wendy.

Auto Surgeon Inc: 'No one is rich enough to buy back their past'.
I do not know how the car care place down the block manages to keep picking quotes that ought to be inspirational and yet somehow read as existential dread. It’s some wild talent they’ve got. (I’d have put this by the Dubiously Sourced Quotes section but don’t want the more intense strips to show up in the Twitter preview.)

A content warning. The last couple months of Mary Worth have included a character sexually assaulting another. They’ve also included a despairing character considering suicide. If you don’t need that in your recreation, you’re absolutely right. Go on to something that won’t be needlessly miserable instead. I’ll catch you next time.

Mary Worth.

18 February – 13 May 2018.

When I last checked in Mary Worth was looking to become rich and famous through muffins. Ted Miller, vaguely associated old friend of Mary’s eternal beau Jeff, was crazy for Mary Muffins and insisted the world would be too. His plan: Mary bakes muffins, and he sells them, and then they both get rich and she gets famous. What could go wrong? And it was a glorious time. For one, yes, people in-universe always praise her food. But Mary Worth’s cooking always looks like it’s from one of those Regrettable 70s Food blogs. You know, the ones where we were supposed to make a tuna-jello fondue with a 7-Up glaze and bake it to look like a lamb, with a dyed mashed potato “lawn” around it.

There’s a motif in comic strips where a character gets to be successful after five weeks of kind of trying. It’s a reliable giddy delight. For another, people kept saying “muffin” or, better, “Mary’s muffins”. Over and over and over. This blend of silly story and silly phrasing could not go wrong.

Ted: 'Don't you feel the attraction between us?' Mary: 'NO! There IS none!' [ When Ted Miller makes unwanted advances ... ' Ted: 'I WANT you, Mary!' Mary: 'I'm NOT interested! STOP, Ted! I mean it! I said STOP!' (She slaps him. Then shoves him.) Ted: 'Oof!' (Ted falls off the sofa, knocking muffins off the table as he does.) Ted: 'Ugh!' Mary: 'DON'T YOU EVER TRY THAT AGAIN! NOW GET OUT!' (Ted has a muffin on his head.)
Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth for the 25th of February, 2018. Ted’s assault, and Mary’s response, is more drawn out and less one-sided than this in the daily strips. But I don’t have the energy to copy all those daily strips in and besides, Brigman’s work here is strong here and should be highlighted.

It went wrong the week after my last essay. After a muffin-to-muffin toast to their plans, Ted moved in for a kiss. Or more. He insisted “I know you want me as much as I want you”. Mary says no, again, and finally slaps Ted. He keeps trying to go. She throws him out. Of her apartment, but he finally takes the hint and leaves the strip altogether, to Jeff’s surprise. Mary explains that she didn’t want Ted as an associate, and Jeff accepts that ruling. Even though Jeff is a good salesman. She goes back to making muffins for fundraiser and her own pleasure. And — that’s it.

And that is where this story completely stopped. Not to be mentioned again. I can accept what seems like a goofy storyline taking a sudden serious turn. It made for some great story material, especially as Mary Worth refused to even hint to any of her friends what happened. Friends innocently not understanding that Ted assaulted her could try encouraging Mary to change her mind. Mary could have her own self-doubts about whether her own recollections of the scene were right. Or start to wonder whether she had done something to encourage Ted’s fantasy. She could try to convince people Ted attacked her. She could struggle with that maddening state where even friends refuse to believe you because, after all, Ted’s always so nice to them.

And instead, nothing. It’s a flippant treatment. And this for a comic strip that several years ago had Mary Worth say how if someone changed how they felt about an incident it wouldn’t be so traumatic. Bad, yes, but I wasn’t recapping the plots back then. (Here’s some representative comments in the Mary Worth And Me blog.) Did an editor order Moy and Brigman to halt the storyline and this was the best they could do? I don’t know. And, sheesh, they had her thinking how she’s at peace with all this on the 8th of March, the International Women’s Day. Classy.

So that left me — not only me, a lot of the Mary Worth semi-ironic fan community — in a foul mood for the next story. That one began the 12th of March. And it’s a shame we did start so upset, since it’s a Wilbur Weston story.

His daughter Dawn’s got the chance to go off to Europe with her art teacher and a bunch of his other minions, there to stare at stuff in Italy. Kind of great-ish for her, considering she’s dating her art teacher. Oh by the way, Mary Worth didn’t see any reason she shouldn’t date her teacher. Still, this is less great for Wilbur. He realized the woman he was dating was trying to steal his reflection from a mirror for Captain Dapertutto. He flew home, broken-hearted, to learn his former girlfriend Iris had a shiny new boyfriend. And now his daughter would be away, only for three months, but a herald of the future. And he knows that as great as Just Mayo vegan ‘mayonnaise’ is, the company that makes it is doing something so shady that any day now they’re getting shut down by the authorities.

On Lookout Point, over the sea. Wilbur: 'When I'm alone with my thoughts, it's like going into a bad neighborhood. I always get beat up! When I returned from my trip around the world, I struggled to deal with complicated romantic issues. I didn't totally go under because Dawn was there for me!' Mary: 'I imagine your daughter was therapeutic company after you broke up with Iris.' Wilbur: 'Now Dawn's studying in Italy ... and I'm feeling abandoned! I try not to think about Iris, but I'm reminded of her all the time!' Mary: 'Wilbur, any time you need to talk or visit, I'm available.' Wilbur: 'Thanks, Mary. I'm glad we're friends.'
Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth for the 1st of April, 2018. You know this is serious by how in the throwaway top-row panels Wilbur is written by Funky Winkerbean‘s Tom Batiuk.

Wilbur owns up to his isolation and regrets while overlooking the ocean. Mary points out stuff that’s going well for him. He’s got two newspaper columns. He spent a year travelling the world asking people how they felt about not being dead from natural disasters. He’s got friends. He’s got good stuff going on and he can keep doing good stuff. So he tries, the first step to being truly crushed.

He tries buying new sneakers, the better for walking, when he runs into Iris and her new boyfriend Iris’s New Boyfriend. They’re pleasant to him, which does make it worse. His syndicate calls. The local paper is dropping his columns. His shower radio breaks. He gives in to the despair and pours a huge glass of maple syrup.

Wilbur poking around at home, in his bathrobe, thinking to himself: 'Who love Wilbur Weston? No one. Dawn's branching out into her own life away from home. I lost Fabiana and Iris.' (He pours a drink.) 'The Santa Royale Times is dropping my columns. And my shower radio doesn't work. It's all too much!'
Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth for the 29th of April, 2018. One may gripe that the shower radio is a pathetic problem to list after all of these, especially since he could presumably get a replacement just by trying. But it works for me. When you have that span when life seems to try crushing you it’s never all big things. It’s always accompanied by some stupid little problem that, any other time, would be a minor chore. And instead it’s this little kick in the stomach to strip even the minor comforts.

Mary bakes some muffins, a welcome moment of giddiness. And is suspicious when she can’t find Wilbur to come eat them. She goes to the Lookout Point where she finds a disheveled, drunk Wilbur sitting on the edge and singing Garth Brooks. She swings into action. She spends the week of strips offering assuring statements. That he is loved and respected. That his problems are temporary. That he can overcome his losses. That the world would not be better without him. And he does come back from the cliff’s edge.

And that’s the story as of the 13th of May. Seriously though, Just Mayo is incredibly good. I’m going to be so sad when the authorities raid the company. I always keep two extra jars of it in the pantry so when that day comes I’ll have some margin at least.

Dubiously Sourced Quotes of Mary Worth Sunday Panels!

  • “Enthusiasm is everything.” — Pele, 18 February 2018.
  • “I have a self-defense mind. I’ve had it all my life.” — Conor McGregor, 25 February 2018.
  • “There is a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go.” — Tennessee Williams, 4 March 2018.
  • “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” — Mother Teresa, 11 March 2018.
  • “The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.” — Jimi Hendrix, 18 March 2018.
  • “Life is full of regrets, but it doesn’t pay to look back.” — Zinedine Zidane, 25 March 2018.
  • “The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” — Hubert H Humphrey, 1 April 2018.
  • “When you’re playing country music, you have to tell the truth.” — Christian Kane, 8 April 2018.
  • “When it’s gone, you’ll know what a gift love was.” — Ian McEwan, 15 April 2018.
  • “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.” — Zig Ziglar, 22 April 2018.
  • “There is no love of life without despair of life” — Albert Camus, 29 April 2018.
  • “Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.” — Khalil Gibran, 6 May 2018.
  • “The greatest test of courage on the Earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.” — R G Ingersoll, 2018.

Next Week!

The Rat Must Die! So did the rat die? The Sunday continuity of Tony DePaul and Jeff Weigel’s The Phantom gets my undivided attention. See you then!

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

7 thoughts on “What’s Going On In Mary Worth? Muffins And Despair. February – May 2018”

  1. The Camus quote, against all odds, is genuine.
    The Ted nonresolution…arrr.
    Moy wrote an explanation at maryworthcomics. She said something like since Mary was able to handle it, she didn’t feel the need to burden anybody else. It did not go over well, particularly after the Dr Ned skated, and after a day or 2 she deleted it.


    1. Thank you! I thought that I had read Moy had explained the Ted plotting. And that it was almost as well-received as one of the late-era FOOB “letters from the characters” explaining why Lizzie just had to give up her personality and marry Granthony instead. But I couldn’t find the blog post to confirm it and didn’t feel like I ought to express a strong opinion on something I didn’t have the chance to sneer at directly.

      The Camus quote, well, even a blind squirrel accurately references someone occasionally. They can’t all be BrainyQuotes misfires.

      Ever read the rest of the Robert Benchley essay with his oft-quoted witticism about quoting someone?


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