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One of my favorite comic strips

September 10, 2011
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

On March 17, 1985, a new comic strip debuted that featured a 13-year-old girl named Luann DeGroot who had a sloppy older brother named Brad, two best friends -?Bernice the pessimistic brain and Delta, a vivacious young woman with a passion for everything she does and her rival, Tiffany, who thinks she's God's gift to boys.

I was approaching my teens just like Luann was when the comic strip, penned by Greg Evans, began. She had a big ol' crush on Aaron Hill, the cutest boy in eighth grade. She complained about her looks, her lack of popularity. She can also be described as a little self-centered. But sometimes teenagers can be like that, it's all about me.

I could sort of relate to Luann. I definitely had a lack of looks and popularity. I was painfully shy, had glasses and braces and a short curly perm. I?thought I?looked "14 going on 40"?in my freshman photo. I also had a big ol' crush on a guy who I?thought was the cutest one in my class (with more to follow throughout the years).

There's the nerdy guy Gunther, who once really liked Luann, but the feeling wasn't mutual. Brad also had his ups and downs with women, including Diane and now Toni. Other interesting characters include Knute, the slacker skateboarder and Crystal, the goth girl who seems to be Tiffany's only friend.

The comic strip has tackled all kinds of subject matter from relationship abuse to Delta's cancer to drunk driving and handicaps. Evans doesn't shy away from the tough stuff. And readers either love or hate whatever topics Evans uses during a certain storyline. I'll admit I cringed during the Brad/Toni/Dirk storyline when Dirk was portrayed as an abusive ex-boyfriend of Toni's who even resorted to stalking at times. He made a recent reappearance as a garbage collector on the DeGroots' block, but nothing really ever came of it.

Since 1985, Luann has only aged three years. In fact, she was 13 from 1985 to about 1999. In those years, Aaron Hill had moved to Hawaii (lucky duck!) and Luann had moved on to several other crushes - older lifeguard Stuart, foreign exchange student Miguel and as of late, Quill the Australian. Bernice even had a boyfriend for a while with Zane. She also learned that she has an older brother who was given up for adoption and now serves in the military.

And throughout the last 25 or so years since I?started reading "Luann," the title character hasn't changed much. She's still a little insecure, but has gained a little more in looks. I'm just jealous that she's only 16, while I'm pushing a milestone birthday. I wonder what Luann will be like at 40. That would be something to see. Would she be married to Aaron Hill (who could make a surprise comeback, but that would be up to the creator)? Or would she still be single, complaining about the lack of men or her popularity? Hard to say, but it's been fun to grow up with her and her friends and family.



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