A little more about Lynn and her creative crew members:
My studio looks the same, but these days, I'm doing some very different things. Oh, there are still some For Better or For Worse drawings to do; spot art illustrations for articles, books and calendars are still necessary.
There will be less of that with no more treasuries, but I suspect they will continue the calendars.
I make the odd change to the strip that Kevin can't do, and the Farley Foundation sometimes needs a new pic, but all in all, I have retired from the job I had (in syndication) for 30 years.
If you count the 2 years of new-runs, Lynn did material from 1979 to 2010, so it’s really 32 years. It’s kind of funny that Lynn is not counting the new-runs. It’s also kind of funny Lynn is saying that she has to make these changes because Kevin Strang, her colourist, can’t do them. Considering her changes of late have been adding seatbelts to old comic strips, I would bet Kevin could probably do that.
Now, if I'm not babysitting or travelling, I'm drawing funny fabric designs — some of which we're almost ready to show you.
If Lynn is not babysitting or travelling. This means Lynn is spending almost all her time on fabric designs. Not just fabric designs, but “funny” fabric designs.
These are easy to do — almost like the kinds of doodling I did on my exam papers when I was in high school.
We have seen some of those doodles, so we know that by “easy”, Lynn means “looks like a doodle.”
I have a list of subject matter — which will keep me more than occupied for a long time to come...and even these can be revised and redrawn.
What does she mean a list of subject matter? Do people makes lists of subject matter for fabric doodles?
Right now, we are having tote bags and umbrellas done up in the fish pattern — something we can show you as soon as we have worked out details such as: how big to make the images, where do we put the new "LJP" logo and how will everything be packaged for shipping?
Who would buy a tote bag or an umbrella with a fish pattern on them? Even if Lynn Johnston drew the fish, who would buy it? Does she think she is marketing to fishermen? Also, the people Lynn listed as helping her were into fashion design. Umbrella and tote bag designs are not exactly the same thing as that.
New projects and new ideas are keeping us busy, and we are looking forward to showcasing everything next year at the first gallery show in Sudbury. We will keep you posted on this and anything else we think will be of interest. So much for retirement! I have just changed hats!!
I can see this gallery show now. Lynn Johnston, creator of For Better or For Worse will be out in the lobby to sell you umbrellas and tote bags covered with a fish pattern she drew. The fish are “funny” because they are cartoon fish.
While it is strange to see her last name finally presented, I thought she preferred “Kate”.
When I was younger, I swore that I would never work for my mother.
Well, that says a lot about young Katie’s perception of the work environment for those people she did see working for Lynn. However, the other possibility is that this was a question Katie got asked a lot by the people who work in the syndication business, where handing a comic strip down to the next generation is very common. And there is also the other possibility that after wanting Katie to be a school teacher, her second choice for Katie was to work for her.
Well, here I am now at the helm of her business, and I love it! It seems that with life experience and maturity, I am now able to work alongside my mom, and you know what, I think we make a great team!
I love Katie’s writing. She just says it. First of all, helm. Katie is in charge and that's why things are getting done. It takes life experience and maturity to be able to work alongside Lynn. I have no doubt that is the case. I think once you got used to little things like Lynn’s predilection for lying and her shoddy work ethic, you would compensate for it and it takes some maturity to be able to do that.
For the longest time, people would ask me what my position was here, and my reply was "Professional Gopher." Now I am proud to say that I am Lynn's Executive Assistant! It is almost as arbitrary a title, but it sounds more impressive!
Again Katie is right on the mark. Lynn loves the sound of the word “executive”. Back when she had the full staff on her Toon Team, she had an Executive Director, an Executive Associate, and an Accounts Executive.
My job here entails everything from customer service, to packing and shipping, to art director, to accounting and management, to occasional therapist. Everyday is a little different, and that’s what makes the job fun and exciting.
Interesting list. The reference to “accounting” tells us that Katie has taken over what Liuba Liamzini used to do, and also lets us know (as I suspected) that the accounting work did not require a professional, and Lynn was just keeping Liuba around for the Spanish lessons. My favorite is “occasional therapist”. I have no doubt this comes up from time-to-time when you work with Lynn.
I have two University degrees; one is a Bachelor of Science from the University of Western Ontario, and the other is a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Emily Carr University of Art & Design. Although these are both big achievements for me, the most valuable education that I have received over the years has been from working in a retail art supply store, and managing a Spa.
I didn’t know Katie went to University of Western Ontario. I guess this explains why Michael Patterson went there. I don’t get the generic Bachelor of Science. Looking at the UWO website, the B.S. usually has some other words to go along with it like B.S. in Mathematics. Maybe this is the reason why she slams her education as not being valuable. As for the experience jobs, I notice she left off “ski instructor”. The listing of jobs does let us know that her 2 degrees were not getting her any work. I don't what she expected coming out of Emily Carr with an expertise in pottery-making. That's not a big money market.
For Better or For Worse has always loosely based on our family, and so it does seem appropriate that it is now officially a family business too.
In other words, it’s good finally to benefit from the years of humiliation she got from the years of having her family's business displayed in the comic strip.
The rest of these are little less interesting to me because they are factual. Reviewing Lynn's stuff is more fun in many respects because of her tendency to stretch the truth. Nevertheless, what I do find interesting is that everyone is a couple. Dad/daughter and life partners. There are no singletons on the new Toon Team.
Stephanie van Doleweerd
Stephanie is Lynn's website developer and systems administrator; she holds a Graphic Design Production diploma and a post-grad certificate in Interactive Multimedia from Canadore College in North Bay, Ontario.
It doesn’t say that Stephanie used to work for Canadore College for several years before Lynn hired her.
She's been working with Lynn since 2003, first as an employee and then as the owner of AloeRoot Web Services.
There’s a little more history than that. Stephanie needed to establish work on the website independently when Lynn fired her staff in 2008 and closed down the office there for everyone but Liuba.
In late 2013, Steph got into archiving — she's now helping Lynn to preserve and catalog her artwork, correspondence and career ephemera.
Which came first? Stephanie getting into archiving or Stephanie archiving Lynn’s work?
In her spare time she paints in acrylics, enjoys martial arts training, and likes to garden and read lots of books.
For interest in martial arts, see Greg Wotton’s Ving Tsun. I wonder why this does not link Stephanie and Greg together as they are a couple.
Kevin worked with the FBorFW gang in 2006, filling in for a parental leave. When the opportunity came up to work with Lynn again, he happily agreed. Kevin's 30 years of experience comes in handy on all of FBorFW's production and products.
Backstory here. Jackie Levesque was the colorist who took parental leave in 2005. I am not sure why the year would be wrong on that, but the old Toon Team article from Canadore College which mentions the leave is dated 2005. The story left for me on my old Howard Bunt Blog was that Jackie colored all of the strips to the end of the modern era and Lynn had promised her she would continue at this job when she went to new-runs. Instead, Jackie was fired and Kevin was hired, which Jackie took personally.
Kevin Strang is President and Senior Graphic Designer at x-Height Graphics Inc and directly oversees the development of project progress. After graduating from the Graphic Design program at Canadore College Kevin moved to Southern Ontario to pursue his career. He worked for various print and marketing firms before creating his own company.
Kevin, his wife, Karen, and their yellow lab, Odin, live on a lake just outside North Bay. After working hours, Kev spends as many minutes out in the great outdoors as time will permit. He enjoys fishing, boating, snowmobiling and ATVing. He says he has a wonderful situation where he works with a great bunch of folks at FBorFW — and can do it from a northern paradise.
These days, Kevin just recolors the Sunday strips, but he used to color Lynn’s work on the treasuries. I expect his work load has gone way down if Lynn has him coloring fabric fish.
Mandy is a Graphic Designer for x-Height Graphics Inc. Mandy’s creativeness and strong design abilities come in handy around Lynn's studio.
She attended a 3 year Graphic Design program at Georgian College. Shortly after graduating, she went back to school and achieved her Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Fine Art Studies at Nipissing University.
She has worked for various print and design firms before joining x-height Graphics Inc. Now she and Kevin are a father-daughter team!
Mandy showed up in a staff picture a few years back and it appears Lynn still considers Mandy to be part of the team, although I don’t know how much she really does for Lynn. Nevertheless, it appears Mandy had a better education than her father, which is the goal of most fathers.
In the early 1990s, Greg took the Administration and Information Management program at Ryerson University. There he developed a love for information systems, records management, and archiving.
His experience with Information Management, combined with his 30 years of experience as an Information Technologist, allow Greg to bring a unique and valuable set of resources to the company.
I am frequently amused by how Lynn puts everyone onto her staff. My impression was that Stephanie enlisted her boyfriend Greg to help with the archiving because he had some background with it. I am not sure if he is an actual paid staff member, or just a guy helping his girlfriend.
Greg enjoys studying the martial art Ving Tsun in his spare time. He's also a talented artist.
There is a North Bay Ving Tsun Kung Fu School, so that could be where Greg goes.
Some Studio Photos (click to see them larger):
Here are a few photos of Lynn, at work in her home studio. Reference books, keepsakes, and personal photos cover nearly every surface!
The bold is the caption if you hover your mouse over the picture.
Picture #1 – Lynn at work. This must be relatively old, as there is snow outside the window.
Picture #2 – Lynn's fabulous bookshelves covered in collectibles. Looks like books on normal shelves.
Picture #3 – A Jesus doll, some oddly-shaped bubble gum and vintage surgical tools along with a selection of comics collections.
Lynn loves unique objets d'art, and collects work by her cartoonist colleagues.
I believe in the industry it is customary to provide free books to others in the industry. I have a friend who is a professional in the comic book industry and he gets a stack of comic books for free every month. I don't know how much collecting Lynn is really doing here.
Picture #4 – Some reference books and other oddments. Actually the right side of the shelf shown in Picture #3. I see some books on plants and one called “Laugh ‘n Learn Spanish”.
Picture #5 – Lynn’s Peanuts treasuries; a picture of young Aaron and Katie; and one of Katie and Lane’s wedding photos. They are The Complete Peanuts, so it does show that Lynn knows what proper treasuries should look like. The Katie and Lane wedding photo is not framed and appears to be of them outside wearing coats. This is either Katie and Lane on their honeymoon, or they had an outdoor wedding in fairly cold temperatures.
Picture #6 – More books and sculpture.
Photos of friends and family sit on her desk, and treasured award plaques hang on the studio walls. Lynn uses toys as reference models sometimes.
I am going to guess her frog pattern did not come from a reference frog toy.
Picture #7 – Family photos of Katie, Aaron, and Lynn’s brother Alan in front of Lynn’s honorary degree. No pictures of Alan with his wife I notice. Also, the honorary degree is actually an Advanced Degree from Canadore College. As a 2-year school, I don't think they offer honorary doctorates.
Picture #8 – Lynn drawing with the help of a model. It is a model car and there are no lines on the page, so this is not a comic strip drawing.
Picture #9 – Lynn’s Voices of Distinction award. The award says: Voices of Distinction Award. Voice & Vision: Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministry. Voice of Affirmation. “For Better or For Worse” For the gentle, powerful affirmation of gay experience in ordinary life as depicted in the internationally syndicated comic strip created by Lynn Johnston. My internet searching is not coming up with anything on this award and this organization. I wonder if they still exist. It has been awhile since the Lawrence coming out story.
One of the fun jobs we've taken on recently was a line of Farley plushies and golf club covers.
Not really a job, but a product.
Picture #10 – Final prototype of the Farley doll with all the details perfect. Not exactly perfect if you read the note. The note says: “This is the gold standard. This is what I want – but with the black fur & the pad (foot) with 4 toes, not 3. Thanks! Please return this example!! Lynn Johnston.” That note is pinned to the prototype as if Lynn intended it to be sent. Given that it is intact and with the note still attached makes me wonder if someone intervened and didn’t send it.
Pictures #11, 12 – Lynn with the Farley golf club cover we’ve recently developed in support of the Farley Foundation. Both feature Lynn using the cover as a puppet with some serious mugging on the part of Lynn. “In support of” should be replaced by “to take advantage of” as the pitch for the golf club cover was specifically for the large number of Farley Foundation members who are also golfers. Needless to say, they have stayed away in droves from those ugly things.
Lynn's drafting table, the view of Trout Lake from her window, and a collection of original illustrations done by her friends.
Picture #13 – Lynn’s drafting table. There is a picture on the top left, fully colored that I do not recognize. Given that it has the whole Patterson clan when they were living at the house and no grandkids, my guess is this is a calendar cover. The picture on the top of the drawing board looks like an entry for a treasury as it has a picture with text underneath it. The picture in the middle of the drawing board looks like Lynn is imitating part of the picture on the top of the drawing board.
Picture #14 – A nice Autumn view of Trout Lake from her office window. It’s a pretty nice view, and you can see table, chairs and umbrella right beside the lake. I wish I had a view like this in my office. It’s gorgeous.
Picture #15 – One studio wall filled with original art by Lynn’s friends. I can figure out what any of it is, except it is not Schulz.
Here's a funny acrylic painting by Lynn. In the middle pic, she's working beneath her collection of Charles Schulz's work. A 1992 award from the NCS hangs nearby.
One of Lynn’s post-divorce acrylics and it’s a picture of 2 fish. Suddenly I have the feeling what Lynn’s fabric is going to look like. If I am right, they are not going to sell any umbrellas or tote bags with this picture wallpapered all over it. It is more ugly/creepy than funny. Get ready for more stuff to fill up Lynn's garage, but at least now she won't have to hunt for an umbrella if it is raining outside.
Picture #16 – An original acrylic painting Lynn created for the bathroom. Beneath it is a fish statue mounted on the wall.
Picture #17 – Lynn at her desktop, under her original, personalized Charles Schulz art. Lynn is actually on her laptop, but it is placed on the top of her desk. For the Schulz work the top left is Spike talking to a saguaro cactus. Underneath is a real picture of Sparky and his dog. Top right is a Peanuts Sunday featuring the kite-eating tree. Bottom right is a Peanuts daily featuring Lucy talking to Lucy on his doghouse. Snoopy licks Lucy and leaves comedically.
Picture #18 – Lynn's Reuben Award – It says: NCS Award. Lynn Johnston. Newspaper Comic Strip Division, National Cartoonists Society, April 23, 1992. Sorry kids, but this is not Lynn’s Reuben. The Reuben is a statue, not a plaque. The Reuben website says Lynn got the NCS Newspaper Comic award in 1991, so this is that award and the date is the date it was awarded. Lynn got her Rueben in 1985. Looking through all the pictures I do not see one single picture of her Reuben sitting on a shelf or a desk anywhere. I wonder if she lost it and tells people this plaque is her Reuben.