howtheduck (howtheduck) wrote in binky_betsy,

The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston Part XII – Aaron Arrives, Doug Leaves

To recap, the chronology as I understand it is this:

1968 – Lynn and Doug move to Dundas, Ontario. Doug works at CHCH-TV. Lynn fails to get a job in animation, but instead takes a job at McMaster University and does freelance work on the side.
1970 – Rod Johnston graduates from Ryerson with his degree in Radio/TV and begins work as a props guy at CHCH-TV. Lynn admits she likes Rod. Lynn also admits that she hangs around CHCH-TV to help out, which would give her time to meet Rod.
1972 – Farley is purchased. Lynn wants a baby. Doug does not. They fight about having the baby. After Lynn leaves for Vancouver, finds an apartment and a job, Doug brings her home after agreeing to be a good father. Thanks to the trip to Vancouver, Lynn loses her job at McMaster. (In the meantime, Rod Johnston leaves CHCH-TV and goes back to school at no less than McMaster University to get his Bachelor of Science degree that will allow him to apply to dental school.)

We will discuss what happens next after the cut.


Marjorie Baskin continued to hire Lynn to do occasional work for the hospital, as did some of the doctors. Among these was Dr. Murray Enkin, a well-respected obstetrician who had asked Lynn to draw a special series of cartoons for him. He wished to Illustrate, in a humorous way, the exercises he recommended to his pregnant parents—the Lamaze and Leboyer methods. It was because of her good relationship with Dr. Enkin that he accepted her as a patient, even though he specialized in difficult pregnancies. One of the first obstetricians to promote natural childbirth, Lynn recalls his office was full of posters about awareness, choice options, and family involvement.

The 10th Anniversary Version:

Murray Enkin was one of those perpetually good-natured people who put you at ease with a smile. An obstetrician with years of experience and several books to his credit, he was respected and admired by students and patients alike.

I had done many comic drawings for him – mostly about the Lamaze and Leboyer methods of childbirthing. Even though one needed a specific referral, Murray kindly accepted me as his patient.


The two versions agree pretty well and the book shows a Lamaze class cartoon Lynn did.


I loved working for Murray. He appreciated the work I did, and he treated me like an equal. He has played a pivotal role in my life. Innovative, outgoing, brilliant, and fun, his friendship gave me strength and encouragement. As a pregnant patient, I often lay half-dressed on a gurney waiting for examination. Nine months of regular visits to his clinic made me familiar with the staff and the surroundings. One day I complained that there was nothing to look at during the examinations, and why didn’t they put up something on the ceiling?

Murray’s response was, “You’re the cartoonist. I challenge you to draw something for my ceiling.” This was all the incentive I needed.

The 10th Anniversary Version:

Every pregnant woman suffers long, annoying waits in the doctor’s office. When you are finally admitted to an examining room, you that it’s just a preliminary to another long wait. This time you’re a semiclothed captive under a white sheet with nothing to do but stare at the ceiling.

I had been in this position for some time when Murray finally came into the room. “So, where were you – playing golf?” I grumbled. “The least you could do is put some pictures on the ceiling for us to look at!” “You’re the cartoonist,” he replied with his infectious grin. “ I challenge you to do pictures for my ceiling.”


The two versions agree pretty well, although the golf joke in the 10th anniversary makes for a better story.


Lynn began to draw cartoons for Dr. Enkin’s examining-room ceiling. She poured her thoughts and ideas, her frustrations and her fears about pregnancy into these simple, single-panel, roughly drawn cartoons. She would present Dr. Enkin with another handful of drawings each time she had an appointment. The enthusiastic response from Dr. Enkin and his staff encouraged her to make more.

The 10th Anniversary Version:

During the months that followed, I brought packages of drawings to Murray’s office. My thought, my impressions, my sarcastic perspectives on pregnancy, I poured out onto my white bond pads in rough, single-panel comics.

The positive response from patients and staff was overwhelming. Murray’s encouragement was great. By the time Aaron was born, I had done over eighty cartoons for his ceiling. I wondered why he kept the originals and only put up copies.


By the time baby Aaron was born, I had done about eighty cartoons about pregnancy. Murray proudly displayed them, copied, them, and gave them to other obstetricians for their ceilings. He kept the originals in a safe place.


For those that are counting, that's about one cartoon for every 3-4 days. The two versions agree pretty well, although I note that Lynn expanded her circulation to include other obstetricians’ ceilings.


Part of Dr. Enkin’s practice was to ensure pregnant moms were ready physically and mentally to give birth and to care for the baby once it arrived. He was aware Lynn’s marriage wasn’t terribly solid. Although Lynn was convinced things were fine, she remembers that he strongly suggested she keep an open mind and be aware of how great a responsibility raising a child would be. She never thought parenting was something she might have to shoulder alone.


Later in the 10th anniversary, Lynn talked about how she was so unprepared for motherhood, she read Farley's dog training handbook to get ready. If that's true, then Dr. Murray Enkin's preparation pretty much sucks.


Baby Aaron arrived on April 11, 1973. He was born into a world of turmoil. Both Doug and Lynn’s parents lived on the West Coast, so they didn’t really have any support or anyone to help guide them through the murky waters of early parenthood. Lynn tried to find consistent freelance work, while learning to be a mother and maintaining a household on her own. Despite his promise, Doug was drinking heavily and spending many unexplainable nights away from home. Six months after Aaron was born, Doug moved in with a woman he’d been secretly seeing for some time.

The 10th Anniversary Version:

New motherhood was not easy. Emotionally, I was still a child myself. Though Doug appeared to be pleased with his small son, he found parenthood too confining and too much of a commitment. When Aaron was six months old, he moved out of the house.


Katie does manage to get the birth date of her brother right. It makes me wonder if there was a version that Lynn did and Katie just had to step in and fix it.

The two versions start to separate when the story turns back to Doug. Lynn insists that he left her to move in with another woman, despite the fact that she is still going to go with the same separation of property in the divorce which meant Doug left to go back to Vancouver. At least she didn’t go to the version she did with her 1994 Hogan’s Alley interview where she said:

But when Aaron was born, it was different. 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 was relieved, actually. In my mind, I had left him many times. To be separated was something for which I was mentally prepared…or so I thought. I fell apart. I lay on my bed wondering how I could cope. I needed someone who would comfort but not coddle me, someone who would pick me up, set me down, and get me straightened around. I called Marjorie Baskin.

She came to my house immediately, kicked off her boots, lay down on my couch, and said, “You think you’ve got problems! Try living with a rabbi! [Her husband, Rabbi Bernard Baskin, has been a dear friend to me, too.] I can’t even go to a coffee shop with one of my male colleagues without someone calling my husband!” She made me laugh. Then she told me to make a plan for each day – don’t focus on the future, just take it day by day. The deal was I wouldn’t criticize her and she wouldn’t criticize me… we’d leave criticism to relatives!


This story with Marjorie Baskin is a new one, and I was shocked to read it. Shocked! Does Lynn even know what she just said? Marjorie’s response to Lynn was about how she could not go out with a male friend without someone calling her rabbi husband. Why would that story be a response to Lynn about Doug leaving to move in with another woman? It wouldn’t. It is the kind of story you would tell a woman whose husband was called by someone reporting that they had seen you out with another guy.

Ever since I read the 10th anniversary edition story where Lynn revealed she knew Rod Johnston while she was still married to Doug, it clicked in my head that her storyline in the comic strip with Anthony Caine, his wife Thérèse, and Elizabeth Patterson paralleled Lynn’s life. Six months after the baby was born in the comic strip, Thérèse left Anthony with their baby with a divorce agreement remarkably similar to that of Lynn and Doug.

This made me wonder if the comic strip also represented their relationship back in the times when Anthony and Elizabeth kept doing things together in spite of the fact it upset Thérèse. Were there times when Lynn and Rod did things together that upset Doug? Well, thanks to this story about Marjorie Baskin, I have finally gotten some confirmation of this theory from the horse’s mouth.

We have seen from Lynn’s prior confession that she spent time at CHCH-TV and she liked Rod, there may have been some interaction there. However, the kick in the teeth is that Rod left CHCH-TV and then started to school at the very place where Lynn worked – McMaster University. After she stopped working full-time at McMaster, where is the freelance work she is getting that she mentioned right at the top of this entry? It’s for the doctors at McMaster.

So this raises an important question? Is it:

a. Doug the slimeball who was messing around with another woman while Lynn was pregnant with his child?

b. Doug the man overwhelmed by fatherhood, who jumps on a motorcycle and makes a bee-line back to Vancouver to escape being a dad?

c. Doug the man who leaves Lynn because he believes she is fooling around with Rod Johnston?

I am inclined to think there might be some strength in the (c) answer; because ultimately Aaron grows up, goes to BCIT in Vancouver and takes up his father’s career as a television cameraman. That implies that Doug was not the completely disconnected father that Lynn makes him out to be and that his motivations for leaving had less to do with Aaron and more to do with Lynn. When Lynn did her San Diego Comic-Con pitch in 2014 with Aaron present, she mentioned that she and Doug still got along.


Lynn and Doug were divorced. He took what he could on his motorcycle and left. He told her she could “have the house, the kid, the car, the dog, and everything else, and after that, not to expect him to contribute anything.” She was, for the first time, on her own and in complete control of her life.

The 10th Anniversary Version:

No divorce is easy, but I suspect ours was less difficult than most. He left everything that could not be carried on his motorcycle. I was to keep the car, the house --- everything --- and in exchange, he was to be free forever of all responsibility. This was our agreement.


I notice in the new version, the dog is called out specifically. Lynn seems to be obsessed with including Farley in this version of her story. In both versions, Doug leaves Lynn everything that he can’t carry with him back to Vancouver, thus destroying the notion that he was leaving her to live with some local Dundas woman.


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