2019: Lynn Johnston, daily cartoonist, "For Better or For Worse," talks to Mr. Media, Bob Andelman, about her family strip's 40th anniversary in newspapers.
I will discuss after the cut.
There is a lot of the same old, same old. She sticks to her 20-year contract lie, and the “I only worked for 6 months developing the comic strip” lie.
I was surprised when she actually credited her Minnesota publisher for submitting her books to the Andrews McMeel syndicate, although she did not list him by name.
She talks a little about Lee Salem and is generally fairly complimentary of him. It was during the course of this interview when she was talking about how he was only a year older than she was that I began to realize why she had difficulty with Lee, i.e., he was not much older and more experienced than she was. Lynn likes the older guys. When she got into the 20-year contract discussion she said, “Really? I can’t change anything? I can’t move anywhere?” Of course Lynn did jump syndicates after 18 years, so that statement was very amusing to me.
She told the Michael Boncoeur story (calling him by his radio name Boncoeur and not his real name Vadeboncouer), where Michael gave a street kid 40 bucks for lodging and food only to have the kid use the money to buy a knife and murder him. She avoided the “I felt a disturbance in the force when he was murdered” part of this story she normally tells.
She told the same old, wild story about the small town editors who ran the Lawrence story and how they would go to a coffee shop and be assaulted by their readers or had their dog spray painted and their children harassed. It was so stupid, but the interviewer never called her on it.
Then she talked about how her major stories landed at the same time as other new disasters:
Farley died on the Oklahoma bombing date.
Michael’s wedding took place as twin towers came down.
She mentions the usual questions no one would ever ask a cartoonist, like “Why did you have a wedding scheduled when the towers fell?”
She pushed her library editions as being better than the reprints in the newspaper, because you can see them better. She proclaimed that she laughed at her own work after rereading it in the library format because she could see the jokes better.
She talked about how she lost her edge by having so much detail in her drawing the characters were no longer elastic. She talked about hiring another artist to ink her work. The more realistic, the less stretchy, especially when she gave the kids lips. She had perfected herself out of a job and she had too many characters.
As a demonstration of how uninvolved in her business she is, she referred to Stephanie (van Doleweerd) as her archivist and not her webmaster.
She declared her middle 10 years were the best for art and comedy. I would have to agree with her there.
Then, right after complaining about how her artwork being overly detailed caused her problems, she then launched into a story about how proud she was of taking Polaroids of things to get the drawing right and her usual story of buying die cast toys and models to improve her art.
The interviewer talked about how he had interviewed Brian Walker (son of Mort Walker) about the art of Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury). Garry Trudeau’s art got better over the years and changed dramatically. I think he was going to compare this situation to Lynn, but then Lynn unexpectedly slammed Garry Trudeau, saying he hired another artist to do the artwork. In fact, Doonesbury is written and penciled by Garry Trudeau, then inked and lettered by an assistant: Don Carlton or later Todd Pound. Sunday strips are colored in by George Corsillo. That is the same situation Lynn had with Laura Piché and Jackie Levesque on the old Toon Team.
She doesn’t know where art is going without newspapers. In fact, when her work exhibits at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Lynn is scheduled to speak to the graphic art students of the university there and she does not know what to tell them. She does not name the university and I could not find out which one with internet searching.
She talked about fabric designs and said they are only just starting to market them, which tells us how little Lynn thought of her daughter’s efforts over the last 4 years. She said they just signed a marketing company in Virginia and which point I thought, “Oh my god. Kate has finally gotten Lynn to sign with a professional marketing company. Pigs are flying."
She said they also work with a company called Spoonflower – a print on demand company to create the fabrics. This is their website and there is nothing of Lynn’s on there.
The interviewer asked the question about what would happen when the reprints reach their conclusion. Lynn said she didn’t know because she doesn’t keep up with that stuff. She believed she was halfway done in reprints and then corrected herself to one-third which is about right. She also indicated that she believes at that point there would be somebody ready to take her real estate, so she would be unlikely to start the reprints over again.
The interviewer asked if Lynn was on social media, Twitter or Facebook and she said she wasn’t. At this point Stephanie van Doleweerd, who maintains Lynn’s Twitter and Facebook account would have been aware of just how little Lynn knew about what she does for her.