Since Elly is the primary character, her family is most prominently featured in the strip; this came into play when Phil was the only sibling to appear during the Settlepocalypse. One could at least have expected to see John's parents and sister Bev head to the city to wish Liz and Anthony well. Since they did not, it seems to me that Lynn didn't think them important enough to discuss; therefore, it falls to me to do so:
- We start, of course, with his parents; in the Early Years, Lynn named them 'Vern' and 'Alice' only to change their names to 'Will' and 'Carrie' about the same time Phil was freaking out about getting married and becoming
castrateddomesticated. Whatever John's dad's name is, though, he served the same function: he delivered moral lessons on the value of hard work and reminded his son that he too was a moody, rebellious asshole as a teenager and thus should not use the phrase "hell in a hand basket" when he was talking about Mike, Liz and April; Elly's mother-in-law served a far more, well, insidious function. Her part was to not only show us that there are easier ways to do housework than are dreamed of in Flapandhonk's philosophy, she also made subtle jabs about her daughter-in-law's intellect and initiative. It seems to me that they signed off on having their grandchildren over not to teach them discipline but to give them a pleasant summer in the countryside.
- This leads me to my next subjects: John's sister Bev, her husband Dan Cruikshank and their daughter Laura. While she seemed a rather normal figure, Dan, despite being a fairly intelligent fellow, spoke in pure Foob-Yokel-ese and acted like he didn't hold with no new-fangled inventions like the wheel and indoor plumbing because he was a country boy and that's how they act. This is, of course, because while Lynn loves to have her characters spout windy nonsense about farm life, she seems to have no real use for farmers so depicting them as ass-scratching bumpkins was second nature. To remind us of this, their daughter Laura seemed to have been put on this Earth to mock the Patterson children because they had no idea to do the sort of chores she had to do every day, like it or not, and call them stupid, spoiled and soft as she delivered the back-to-nature sermons that Lynn loved to deliver. (In the real world, of course, her attitude could be explained by frustration at having to waste her summers baby-sitting the docile and clueless people her insane and lazy aunt couldn't deal with instead of hanging out with her own friends.)
- Finally, John himself seemed to be turning into nothing more than a glorified walk-on; this might look like a result of Lynn's divorce but it seems to me that it would probably have happened anyway.
The reason, of course, is simple; since the focus was shifting towards the children and their stupid adventures, Lynn would have thought it simplest to have the most important parent be the link to the past. God knows that the post-Settlepocalypse John wouldn't be doing anything important enough to be noticed.