I’d like to think that scream of terror in the last panel is someone snapping from the sheer disregard of continuity. “This theater” was responsible for none of what you claim for it, Mason. You, Pete and Cindy were the ones who brought Cliff out of his self-imposed hermitage. Vera just happened to show up at the Silver Grille. (I guess she had one of those decoder rings before she was engaged with one.) And I know it galls you to admit it, but you met Cindy because of Les Moore.
Once again, Tom Batiuk seems to be making it up as he goes along, disregarding his own history while he expects his readers to have an encyclopedic knowledge of every minor character who appeared for a panel or two. It’s amazing how those two contradictions don’t collide and annihilate the whole strip.
Speaking of a panel or two, it’s sure unfortunate that Cindy had to run off between panels one and two. Because I don’t know who the Hell that’s supposed to be in the second panel; it looks very little like Cindy. I mean, she’s not even wearing the same dress. I guess, maybe Cindy tripped and looked foolish doing so, so the people in charge said, “Quick, we need a hot blonde who doesn’t look anything at all like she’s fifty years old!”
Either that, or the new artist is definitely getting Funkyfied–“Hey, whatever fills the panel, man.” Gotta wonder if, when he told his fellow artists that he’d landed the Funky Winkerbean gig, there was this long, uncomfortable silence, followed by expressions of sympathy, pity, and many hands on the shoulder with the words, “We’re there for you, man,” and “You’ll get through this.”