Lynn Johnston

Lynn Johnston

Infobox Comics creator

name = Lynn Franks Johnston
imagesize =
caption =
birthname = Lynn Ridgway
birthdate = birth date and age|1947|5|28
location = Collingwood, Ontario
deathdate =
deathplace =
nationality = Canadian
area =
alias =

notable works = "For Better or For Worse"
awards =

Lynn Johnston CM OM (born May 28, 1947) is a Canadian cartoonist, well known for her comic strip "For Better or For Worse", and was the first woman and first Canadian to win the National Cartoonist Society's Reuben Award.

Early life

Born Lynn Ridgway in Collingwood, Ontario, she was raised in North Vancouver, British Columbia. She attended the Vancouver School of Art with hopes of making a living as an artist. After working briefly in animation, she married in 1969, and moved back to Ontario, where she worked as a medical artist at McMaster University for five years. Johnston's illustrations are currently in storage in McMaster's medical archive. They include depictions of routine hospital happenings, such as a father smoking in the waiting room.

While expecting her first child, she drew single-panel cartoons for the ceiling of her obstetrician's office. Those drawings were published in her first book, entitled "David We're Pregnant," which was published in 1973. After her divorce, she did free-lance commercial and medical art in a greenhouse which was converted into a studio. "Hi Mom! Hi Dad!", a sequel to "David", was published in 1975. Shortly thereafter, she met and married dental student Rod Johnston.cite web |url= |title=About Lynn, by Lynn |author=Lynn Johnston | (official site)] [Johnston's For Better or For Worse retrospectives.]

"For Better or For Worse"

In 1978, the Johnstons and their two children relocated to Lynn Lake, Manitoba. She was asked by Universal Press Syndicate if she was interested in doing a comic strip. She sent off twenty copies of a strip called "The Johnstons", based on her own family "since we were the only people I knew I could draw over and over again with some consistency." Much to her surprise, the syndicate approved of the initial strips and offered her a twenty-year contract. After a six-month "work-up" period, the strip first appeared in newspapers throughout Canada under the title "For Better or For Worse". The strip is currently carried by about 2000 newspapers in Canada, the U.S. and 20 other countries.

Many story lines draw from her family's real-life experiences. Her main characters are named after the middle names of her husband and children. Elly is modeled after a friend who died when Johnston was young. Her brother-in-law Ralph Johnston inspired the controversial story about Lawrence's coming out. Johnston's niece Stephanie is developmentally handicapped and her experience is shared in recent story lines on the integration of developmentally handicapped students in April's class.

The characters in "For Better of For Worse" have aged in "real time". On August 31, 2008, Johnston herself appeared in the Sunday strip, which was supposed to be the end of the cartoon, and announced that she would take the story back nearly 30 years to soon after its beginning, with half of the material to be new and the other half repeats.cite web |url= |title=Popular comic strip ignites controversy |publisher=Associated Press (on |date=September 5, 2008 |accessdate=2008-09-08]

Personal life

Since the 1990s, Johnston has been notably forthcoming in her discussion of the abuse inflicted on her by her mother, ["I haven’t told many people this because my parents were still alive and I didn’t want to reveal it ... It’s hard to describe. On the one hand, she beat the living crap out of me. On the other hand, though, she was bright and witty and well read. Neither of my parents ever stopped encouraging my brother and me from pursuing our creativity." - [ Slate interview] retrieved 12 October 2006] her first husband, ["I went for these guys who treated me like shit, and I married one of them! The guys who treated me badly were the funny guys, and I always went for the guys with the sense of humor.... My husband would say things to me like my mother did, “You’re fat and ugly.” And he treated me like garbage. His girlfriends would call him at home, and when I would pick up the phone, they would giggle at me.... I married a guy who treated me very badly, but I was happy. I was miserable, so I was happy." - [ Slate interview] retrieved 12 October 2006.] and being unprepared to be a mother to her son Aaron ["I didn’t know how to raise a child. And I wasn’t close to my parents, and because I was too proud to go to my parents for help, I mistreated that little baby.... I was exactly like my mother in that sense." - [ Slate interview] retrieved 12 October 2006] —topics which have also been reflected in the strip.

Johnston now resides in the northern Ontario town of Corbeil. Her daughter Katie lives in Corbeil and works at the For Better or For Worse studio, while her son Aaron works in the television industry in Vancouver, BC. In September 2007, Lynn and Rod Johnston announced their separation and intention to divorce. [ [ Kansas City Star, Sept 6, 2007] and [ Editor & Publisher, Sept 7, 2007] ] Johnston had talked about either ending "For Better or For Worse" or handing it off to another cartoonist, but changed her mind as a result of her split from her husband of over 30 years. [ [ Lynn Johnston says it's time to move on] , "Peterborough Examiner", September 19, 2008]

Johnston was close friends with Charles M. Schulz, creator of "Peanuts". [cite web |url= |title=Charles M. Schulz, 'Peanuts' Creator, Dies at 77 |author=Sarah Boxer |publisher="New York Times" LearningNetwork |date=February 14, 2000] She is also friends with Bill Watterson, creator of "Calvin and Hobbes".Fact|date=February 2007

Awards and honours

*1985 - Reuben Award, the first woman and first Canadian to win
*1987 - Gemini Award, Best Cartoon Series
*1990 - Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario
*1991 - National Cartoonist Society Newspaper Comic Strip Award
*1992 - Made a Member of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honour
*1993 - Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
*1993 - Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for story on Lawrence's coming out
*1999 - Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario
*2000 - Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario
*2000 - Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Vancouver
*2001 - Comic of the Year, Editor and Publisher
*2003 - A star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto
*2004 - Debwewin Citation from the Anishinabek Nation for excellence in Aboriginal-issues journalism
*2007 - the Order of Manitoba
*2008 - Inducted into the Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame [cite web |url= |title=Lynn Johnston to Enter Canadian Cartoonists' Hall of Fame on Friday |author=Dave Astor |publisher="Editor & Publisher" journal |date=August 6, 2008 |accessdate=2008-09-05]

*Date unknown - Inducted into the National Cartoon Museum Hall of Fame

elected bibliography

*"David We're Pregnant", 1973
*"Hi Mom! Hi Dad!", 1975
*"Do They Ever Grow Up?"
*"Leaving Home" (With Andie Parton)
*See "For Better or For Worse" for compilations of the comic strip


External links

* [ Official Website of For Better or For Worse]
* [ Official Website of FBorFW character Ned Tanner]
* [ 1993 Slate interview]
* [ NCS Awards]

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