In Mike’s retcon for September 2007, he’d explained the supposed end of the story by saying that they no longer had time to explain themselves to the woman who illustrated their adventures. This, of course, means that the strip is supposed to be their history as they experienced it. This would explain why it is that Elly seems to have been subjected to an endless stream of indignations, humiliations and disappointments. She, as we know, is an extremely negative and shallow person who isn’t that smart. She only remembered and told the Artist about the things that were important to her: all the times went she felt insecure, depressed, angry, humiliated and so on and so forth. She can’t seem to remember the vast extents of time when she felt no strong emotions of any sort any more than she can remember feeling contented. This, is of course, similar to the premise that Inman expounds. The Pattersons actually are a normal family who don’t live horrible lives, it’s just that their story is told by a woman who can’t remember them getting along ever because of her inability to feel joy.
This also explains why Elly looks so horrible; since she has the same warped self-image and lack of self-confidence the Author has, it’s most likely that she’s a fairly attractive woman who sees herself as fat, ugly and old and will not be told otherwise. Sure, those around her try to spare her feelings but she knows the truth. This is why she slowly mutated from the attractive woman of 1979 into the anthropomorphic sack of potatoes that married Liz off to Awfulny. I’d so go so far as to say there was something organically wrong with Elly. She might see the average-looking people of Milborough as being the misshapen freaks that litter the strip and insists on having Lynn draw them properly