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2014 Toronto Comics Art Festival: Part Five. The Best Ever Lynn Johnston Question

The fifth part is discussed below the cut.


And now for the question to beat all questions. You will never find a better question asked of Lynn Johnston at a public forum than this question and it shows that Raina is a true, true fan. She is one of us. Gooble. Gobble.

Raina Telgemeier: Can I ask you about Anthony’s moustache?

I love that question.

Lynn Johnston: Well, I…

Raina Telgemeier: Is that a regret or is that a solid choice that…

Lynn Johnston: Well, if characters are changing, you’ve gotta do something to…

Kate Beaton: Although, now his moustache would be hip.

Lynn Johnston: What?

Kate Beaton: What? Did you just… Wait, what did you….

Raina Telgemeier: No, I didn’t hear you.

Kate Beaton: Oh, never mind.

Raina Telgemeier: That’s okay, continue.

Lynn Johnston: You know, it’s surprising the number of people who wrote to me and said how much they hated that moustache.

Raina Telgemeier: Yeah. I had no problem with the moustache, a lot of my friends did, but it was controversial.

Lynn Johnston: Oh, I’m going out with a guy right now, isn’t that funny, I am 67, and I’m going out with somebody. But it’s great.

Raina Telgemeier: She’s still got it, folks.

Lynn Johnston: And I want him to grow a moustache. It’s one of those things that you just don’t ask a guy to do. I’m waiting for Movember.

And just when you think Lynn Johnston is not going to answer the moustache question, she does so very indirectly. Lynn likes a man with a moustache. When Anthony grew a moustache, Lynn wasn’t thinking, “I would like Anthony to look like a perverted grandfather with a pornstache.” She was thinking, “That Anthony is soooo sexy with his moustache.”

The guy she is dating is obviously John Wipprecht, the guy we saw with Lynn at the Art Gallery of Sudbury presentation opening. Look at that cheesy moustache he has. He must have grown it for Lynn. It may be one of those things that you don’t ask a guy to do, but when has that ever stopped Lynn Johnston?


2015 John Wipprecht


2014 John Wipprecht


Raina Telgemeier: So, what is it that keeps you coming back to the drawing board every day?

Kate Beaton: Oh, I don’t know. You’ve been doing it since you were…I was talking about meeting a bunch of great bums who all knew Raina’s work and were all like, “Oh, my God, you know her!” And… Anyway, so we were talking about being an artist and being in the studio, ‘cause they were visiting our studio, and everyone was like, “Who likes to draw here?” And everyone was like, “He does.” And it was this other kid who was like, “Yeah, that’s me.” I was like, “I know you, I was you.” You know, the one could draw and was drawing and could be found. And that’s what keeps you going back, ‘cause that’s what you always did. John Glass and I were talking about that age of kids, which is really great, ‘cause they were all… Someone’s an expert on certain things, he’s like, “I like to draw cars,” and I’m like, “Cool.” And then he’s an expert on cars, but that’s it. I was cats, so. I’d be like, “I’ll draw you a manx cat or a tabby cat, you name it.”

Lynn Johnston: I would keep drawing if I could see. And I’m having such problems seeing, and my hands shake, and it just drives me crazy because being young, you take seeing and your hands working for granted, it’s there, it works, it’s there. And now, it takes me forever to do one little drawing because I can’t see. It’s just ‘pfft’.

Just a little hint for Lynn. If you are going to play the shaky hand card, and you put your hands up so that everyone can see you have shaky hands, then the hands need to shake. Steady hands, no. Shaky hands, yes. Also, careful listeners will realize that at the very beginning of this, the guy who did the introductions reminded us that Lynn did the poster for the festival, so the "inability to draw" story is working contrary to the presentation.

Kate Beaton: But you kept it up, basically, as much as you… You were still doing the line work and other people would do the solid inks, right?

Lynn Johnston: At one point I had people inking backgrounds, but I did all the pencil work and I always did the characters, I never let anybody touch the characters. But I had a wonderful inker who did the backgrounds, and I’ve had a couple of wonderful people to work with, it was just a joy.

Kate calls her out, so Lynn has to admit she had an inker.

Raina Telgemeier: So I guess…

Kate Beaton: Yeah. Not without a fight then, eh?

Lynn Johnston: Pardon me?

Kate Beaton: I said not going down without a fight, then?

Lynn Johnston: Well, no. But now I’m gonna have to have them… Those cataract things done or whatever, and I don’t want anyone to cut my eyeballs!

Raina Telgemeier: But if they cut your eyeballs…Do you think there is ever a chance we’ll see something else from you, maybe a graphic novel? Oooh!

Once again Raina hits the “I am a true fan" button.  She is obviously not buying the shaky hands excuse, but she might believe the cataract excuse and if she is like me, she knows plenty of people where cataract surgery restored their vision. My mom had cataracts removed from both eyes, and while she will not say it is same as before, she will admit it is pretty close.

Nevertheless, if there is one thing that Lynn’s sloppy work on the Farley children’s books has shown us, it is that Lynn really does not want to draw stuff anymore. Sorry, Raina. No graphic novels for you.


Lynn Johnston: I would rather tell stories than write stories now, ‘cause I really like to story-tell. But what I’m doing, and I know it sounds crazy, is that I’m doing fabric designs. I am drawing doodles of stuff that goes on and on, and on and one, ‘cause I can do it without thinking, and without really drawing anything preliminary, but cats, and dogs, and fish, and birds, and Aztecs, and…

Raina Telgemeier: Out of the panels.

Lynn Johnston: Pardon me?

Raina Telgemeier: Out of the panels.

Lynn Johnston: Just stuff, just stuff, I can show you, I’ve got stuff and…Anyways, but that’s fun because my daughter’s working for me now, and she’s the one that’s carrying on with the business, and she’s the one that’s doing the books, and she’s the one who can sculpt, and sew, and create. And so, I’m just doing fabrics and she’s working with a seamstress who’s gonna make a clothing line, and all that kind of stuff. So, we don’t know where we’re going, but one of the great things about having had such a good job is that I can afford to invest in something new, which is very exciting. But look after your eyes. Be grateful for all your healthy working parts.

Lynn as advertising agency head, standup comic, story-teller and at this point, Lynn still believed the clothing line fiction being fed to her. With her upcoming move to Vancouver, I doubt she still believes that.

Raina Telgemeier: And, Kate, do you have anything on the horizon that you can talk about?

Kate Beaton: Yeah. Well, I’ve been working for a long time on a scholastic book, a kid’s book. And it’s taken…

Raina Telgemeier: That’s the Fat Pony one?

Kate Beaton: That is. It’s about a princess who wants to be a warrior, and she asks for an awesome warrior horse, but she gets that instead, and she thinks that she’s licked. They work it out in the end.

Lynn Johnston: I would… When you talk about graphic novel, I bow to your ability, the two of you are doing such a wonderful job with the work you’re doing, that I feel that what I’ve done I’ve done, and I don’t want to do… The things that make you create are the things that you really want to do. You’re living in that zone and you just have to get it out there, and you want other people to see what you see in your imagination. And that’s the incentive to get out there, but I’ve done that now, and I can’t believe that I don’t wanna do it again. I can’t believe that, because at one time that’s all I wanted. And at one time, everything was a gag, and I would write it down in any piece of paper that I had in my handbag. And now Jan Eliot who does Stone Soup is one of my dearest friends and she calls me the other day and said, “I’m absolutely drowning in misery, I can’t think of anything,” and I said, “Well, sorry, Jan, neither can I.” At one time I would have been able to write her back with a dozen different ideas and now I can’t. It’s strange.

Meanwhile, Lynn is still on the “I will not do a graphic novel” tangent. She is getting tired now and you can tell she has stopped paying attention to what other people are saying. The likelihood of Jan Eliot calling Lynn to ask her for material is very low.

Kate Beaton: Well, it’s a really high gear way of living for a long time, and when you stop, I feel like….

Lynn Johnston: It’s a momentum thing.

Kate Beaton: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I took a break from comics for awhile because I burned out, ‘cause you can. Like anything, I feel like people who finished something like your graphic novel just… You see them near the end and they’re just like, “Oh…”

Now Lynn goes back to a husband-bashing tangent with her murderous idea of how to kill off John Patterson. She wants someone to ask her how she would do it and Raina is not only not biting, but she changes the subject.

Lynn Johnston: I’d say, there is one thing that I really fantasize about, though, that if I was gonna continue the strip from now into the future, I’d bump off the husband, and I know exactly how to do it.

Raina Telgemeier: Oh my God.

Lynn Johnston: Yeah, I know exactly how to do it. And it would be funny because there’s no point in croaking unless it’s funny, right? So…

Raina Telgemeier: On that note…

Kate Beaton: I would love to ever go there, I would.
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  • April & Becky

    I thought I'd contribute some unfavourite storylines: April, Becky and the neverending fighting. They met at daycare, aged 2, but the arguing didn't…

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    Please please please PLEASE let this be Shannon's farewell strip! Pretty please with chocolate syrup and maple syrup and cough syrup and any syrup…

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