As we all know, Anne started her career in the strip as the hyper-competent traditional supermother whose function was to not only make Elly feel uncomfortable with not only the compromises she was forced to make between reality and the ideals she’d started out with but also to set the bar so high that even if our hero didn’t feel inadequate, she certainly looked the part. The problem, of course, is that just as Connie transformed from strident antagonist to Elly’s little ventriloquist dummy, Anne became a laughably incompetent and stupid mother who let her demonic brood walk all over her; this meant that her function was to serve as a warning to Elly what could happen if she let her guard down. The question which faces us is why is it that the children slipped loose from her control. The answers Lynn gives reveal some very interesting things about her. Let’s list them, shall we?
- Lack of a father figure: Both the book Lives Behind The Lines and Anne’s Liography tell us that a lot of what was wrong with the children is that Steve was not there for them physically; since Lynn was brought up to believe that without a stern father figure to have final say, their poor, weak mother cannot possibly control them, what could have been good children went to the bad.
- Perceived Antagonism: It would also seem that Richard was the sort of clingy, demanding little child that Lynn presents as being an incomprehensible trial to his or her parents; since it’s impossible for Lynn to spare much attention, what is simply a panicky infant who needs to be consoled is perceived as a calculating monster who hates the idea of his or her mother having free time.
- Perceived Favoritism: Another factor that caused the shapeless, doughy-looking brood that Annie gave the world to become Lovecraftian horror freaks was that the older child started resenting what he thought was special treatment right from the get-go. It doesn’t matter to Christopher that Richard is helpless and needs looking after, he’s not getting any love and he hates the kid for it.
- Bigotry: Another factor in their descent is Anne’s insistence that they go to a parochial school; the reason this is bad is that they will end up learning French, accepting the Pope’s right to mess with them at will and fail to agree that King Billy’s crossing the Boyne is one of the niftiest things ever. If I didn’t know going in that the Ridgways were the more swinishly agressive sort of Orangemen going into reading Foob, watching Lynn spout arrant nonsense about the innate subservience of Catholic women and the need to keep French off the cereal boxes would do the trick.
Simply put, Lynn’s biases against single parents, non-punitive thinking, treating children as something other than being Always Chaotic Evil and her sectarian upbringing combine to make for a rather nasty little casserole of envy, malice and spite.