The Most Unlikable Character in Comic Strip History

Blog — By on December 12, 2007 at 2:45 pm

My friend Steve and I are pretty alike in our tastes. From music to movies to sports, we enjoy the same things. There are differences, of course…Steve’s taste in indie music tends to be more atmospheric, and I like actual melodies.

We also share dislikes (‘hatreds’ is so strong). Most of our angry emails tend to revolve around two newspaper-related themes: contrarian Portland Tribune sportswriter Dwight Jaynes and the comic strip Luann.

Luann was created by Greg Evans, and chronicles the trials and tribulations of Luann DeGroot, a narcissistic high school girl. The storylines are intended to bring up “real issues today’s teens face”. These issues are broached by having Luann whine about her love life, or whine about school work, or even whine about her older brother, unlovable layabout Brad.

In early incarnations, Luann was kind of ugly, and had a crush on the unlovably handsome Aaron Hill.

Later, Aaron Hill, defying all reason, started to like Luann back despite the fact she had no apparent positive attributes.

Then Luann became moderately attractive, which no one saw coming, but it did offer at least some semblance of reason that another guy, the unlikably nerdy Gunther, would fall in love with her.

And Luann waffled between the both of them because a) she’s stupid and b) Gunther and Aaron Hill are stupid.

Luann also has two obnoxious ‘friends’: Bernice and Delta. I’m sure you can figure out which one is which…I guess Evans dismissed the name “Shaneequa” for the token black friend as too cliche.

The word ‘friends’ is in quotes, because Luann is always backstabbing her friends and visa versa. For instance, Bernice is similarly nerdy to Gunther, so she always has a crush on him even though Gunther is in love with Luann. Delta is ground-breakingly sassy and wise.

There’s only one likable character in the Luann world, and that is Tiffany.

Tiffany is likable for two reasons. First, Luann hates her. There’s an overly simplistic saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. While that quote doesn’t work at all in the context of Middle East diplomacy, it works here. Thusly, since Tiffany is so despised by Luann, we must love her in equal measure.

Second, Tiffany is hot. There’s no getting around it.

As much as I hate “Luann”, I read it every chance I get, if only to see how far various storylines have not progressed (“Lost” is a too-the-point short story in comparison), and to send Steve an angry email. Here’s an example:

Steve,

Look! Luann’s mascara makes her look like an old prostitute.

Sincerely, Jordan

I hope I live to be 1,000 years old, because maybe by that point there will be a storyline where Luann is whining into her audiotape diary. In a cage in Hell.

P.S. As always, The Onion discussed this subject before I did. Below is the article’s photo inlay, which features The Onion’s take on Greg Evans’ initial sketches about how to broach the topic of 9/11. Click on it to make it bigger. Awesome.

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    4 Comments

  • Nick says:

    I’m willing to place “Luann” up there with “Family Circus” and “Marmaduke” as the trifecta of inept comic strip composition. But I think Bil Keane has himself the worst strip of all time.

  • Melody says:

    How is this conversation happening without talking about Ziggy? I mean he’s clinically depressed and he’s supposed to make us laugh?

    And dude, you know Tiffany wouldn’t even give you the time of day.

  • jordan says:

    She would if I pretended I had a crush on Luann! What a brilliant manipulation that would be…getting with Tiffany and breaking Luann’s heart at the same time…

  • Marion Delgado says:

    This is something I posted on the comics curmudgeon about Luann in the hands of an angry God (Batiuk writes Funky Winkerbean). I think I was almost prescient what with Luann streetwalking and all, but I didn’t put enough cancer in.

    IF TOM BATIUK WROTE “LUANN”

    BERNICE reveals to LUANN that BEN, who was killed by an IED in Iraq the day before he was due to leave forever, is her baby’s father – and she may not make it to term, because she has inoperable cancer! Luann tearfully says goodbye to Bernice, who dies on the operating table delivering young MAC “Duff” Halper. Luann promises to adopt Mac and keeps her word. She moves into the house next door, splitting it with her brother BRAD, who’s quietly furious but supportive. Luann’’s abortive affair (and pot smoking incident) with friend TJ causes Brad to ban him from the house, yet paradoxically, having lost his bachelor pad, he also won’t see his beloved TONI DAYTONA, for which he irrationally blames his sister.

    Kicked out of their beach house by his Hawaiian-Chinese ex-girlfriend LIAN, AARON HILL decides to finally see “what might have been” and gets Luann’s number from TIFFANY who he orders not to tell Luann that “she was there first.” Unfortunately, after a couple of comically chaotic “dates” Aaron finds the new “single-mom” Luann a complete drag. After taking Luann’s virginity (which the wistful TJ never quite managed), Aaron spends his last two days in town with Tiffany, completely shattering Luann. On his way out he meets DIANE for coffee. She immediately asks about BRAD, much to Aaron’s annoyance, and he tells Diane Brad is still chasing Toni.

    DELTA, who has seemingly lost an arm to surgery stemming from her Hodgkin’s lymphoma, starts bringing Brad food baskets just like Toni did. Brad starts to warm to her, but surprisingly, Delta and GUNTHER, who secretly loved Bernice and Luann equally, become true lovers.

    Luann becomes an alcoholic. Attempting to save her (including forcing her to take a cold shower with her clothes on and an emotional scene where Brad smashes every liquor bottle in the house), Brad is horrified when a raving, drunken Luann tells CRYSTAL Brad was “feeling her up.” When DIRK overhears this and tells Toni, she phones Brad and tells him she has a restraining order out – against him! He cannot be within 100 feet of her and has to quit the fire department (for which, moping, he’s almost become too out of shape anyway).

    Crystal finds out the truth, but its too late. Brad slaughters his parents then meets Crystal at Pitts High School. He plants a bomb in Reddy the Fire Truck then uses the explosion to seal the main exit to the school He and Crystal set fire to the school with improvised napalm and shoot everyone who tries to flee. Brad attempts to shoot himself and Crystal, wounding her and causing aphasia to himself.

    Brad is sentenced to consecutive life sentences while Crystal gets only 4 years. She promises to wait for Brad to get parole.

    After this, the strip Luann officially ends, but Batiuk has already spun off “ZANE,” which involves the late Bernice’s ex-boyfriend. Luann regulars who move near Zane include KNUTE, Toni, Lian, Aaron, Diane and ARKHAT, the Iraqi mother of Mac’s half brother. Luann and Mac have left their town without leaving a forwarding address, but both Delta (at home) and Aaron (in Zane’s city) receive yearly letters letting them know Luann and her son, nicknamed “Duff,” are still alive and well. The menacing figure of Dirk, still haunting Toni’s life, provides the dramatic tension in the first year of “Zane,” which has proven a popular strip, though not achieving the heights of its predecessor. Where the characters in Luann aged slowly, Batiuk has let everyone in “Zane” catch up, and much of the attention focuses on Ben and Arkhat’s son MEDIVH, and vignettes involving Duff.

    The WV for this post was “ingest”

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