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Conversation with Lynn Johnston Part I

Lynn’s final “chalk talk” at the Library of Congress is on the youtube.  I thought about transcribing the whole thing, but it is long and I am lazy.  I will point out the highlights and the time markings in case you want to see them and then add my comments, where appropriate after the cut.



0:00 - Intro

Helena Zinkham

Chairman of Photos and Print Division

Library of Congress

4:38

Lynn starts

5:00

Lynn talks about taking high blood pressure medication, which I did not know she did.

5:31

Lynn claims she can’t see out of her right eye, so she is really running this cataract story out.  The first time I heard it was back in 2014.   Everyone tells me it is a simple operation and there is no reason Lynn could not get it done, IF she really has a problem.

Lynn claims her right hand shakes and demonstrates how hard it is for her to eat soup.  Unfortunately for Lynn she is drawing on an overhead projector for most of this presentation where we can see her hands really well. 

6:20

Lynn tells a funny story about how a guy in a walker tried to pick her up by talking about grilled cheese sandwiches, and that was how she knew she was old.

On the overhead projector is a pre-drawn picture of how she used to draw Elly.  Lynn has a lot of problems remembering how her characters were drawn in this presentation, which makes me think that drawing that Elly in advance was a good idea.

Lynn then draws an updated version of Elly as she would be today.  This Elly bears a strong resemblance to an unkempt Fred Flintstone.

8:20

Lynn drops her first reference to Charles Schulz.  She tells her usual story about how her grandfather did not like the use of dialogue in the Peanuts comic strip.

9:14

Lynn does her usual bit she does in every chalk talk by showing cartoon facial expressions with 2 dots, a circle and the letter “C” and moving them around.

10:58

Lynn drops the name “Sparky” for the first time and draws her version of Charlie Brown.  It’s pretty terrible, but she does actually get closer to his image than she did with the previous Elly.

11:23

Lynn name drops Len Norris, whom she mentioned extensively in The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston.

11:50

Lynn draws her father.   She tells her usual story about how her father should have been in vaudeville.  She tells how he was a member of a Barbershop Quartet and how he was first tenor, which is a new story for me.

Lynn tells the Keystone cop story for analyzing comic gags, where her father ran the film forward and back.   This becomes a recurring theme for this lecture.

13:38

Lynn name drops Mike Peters (Mother Goose and Grimm) and compares him to her father for the way he talks with his arms.

14:00

Lynn gives new information.  Mervyn was a cartoonist.

14:16

Lynn tells a new story about how she wanted to commit suicide by jumping out her window when she was 6 years old.  This is the second running theme, and she talks about it so often that it makes me think Lynn’s unknown problem that required Katie to live near her after the divorce was fear of suicide due to depression.

14:26

Lynn’s mother is mentioned.  “She would hit you before she would talk to you.”  Upper crust Brit.   She was frustrated she couldn’t have a career.  Talks about her mother’s homeopathic medicine.  Lynn’s third theme is how her mother was angry and upset about being stuck at home and not having a career.

My comment: Lynn is conveniently forgetting that both her mother and her father left home every day to go and work their family business in order to make this "no career" point.  Ursula was only a stay-at-home mom until they got that business, and they did well enough with it that they retired to their lake home as soon as their kids left home.

15:51

Lynn draws a picture of her mother saying she could only rarely do it, because she wanted to bring her dad back to life again (and not her mom).

16:30

Lynn compliments teachers for saving her bacon, but she does not give a name or a story example.  Sorry, George Stibbs.

17:10

Lynn explains she wore her necklace because her time was in the 60s and the necklace was made in the 60x.

17:28

Lynn explains the she got the job in the animation studio because she babysat for the guy who ran the studio, which is a story she told in The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston.  She did not put in the part where she met him because he did business with her father.  She calls it KVOS TV film studios, which is a phrase that is not in The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston.  It is, however, correct.  My source:

http://reelingback.com/articles/filmmaking_industry_5

To serve its commercial clients, KVOS established offices on Burrard Street. Its film unit, set up in 1960 under Jack Gettles and Vic Spooner, became Canawest Film Productions in 1963. By 1965, its Vancouver animation studio was a major sub-contractor for Hollywood’s Hanna-Barbera in the production of television cartoon series. Canawest incorporated as an independent company in 1967.

18:12

She name drops “Jack” for Jack Gettles as the reason for her work in Canawest.  In The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston she credits getting the job with Ken Walker, the manager of Canawest films.  I have no idea why she decided to change this story.

18:22

Lynn slams the fine arts artists at the Vancouver School of Art for calling her and her group “the hacks.”  She tells her usual story slamming them for not being able to make a living with their artwork.

18:40

Lynn says the chronological order is she gets the job with KVOS and then met and married a cameraman.  She says it was a dumb thing to do.   There is a lot of Doug Franks bashing in this presentation. Get ready.

19:31

Lynn draws a picture of a “dumb and stupid” guy and talks about how it makes her feel better to be smarter than someone else.  She moves a mouth about the “dumb and stupid” character to show expressions.  

My comment: I expect there are many times when Lynn feels smarter than someone who is smart enough not to correct her.

20:16

Lynn draws a picture of Doug and draws him fully bearded and with long hair.  As we know, Doug Franks in her wedding pictures is clean-shaven and has short hair.  Then she does her usual drawing of the bones underneath his head to show that Doug did not have many brains.

21:33

Lynn tells a story about how after her marriage to Doug was over, her mother said she never liked Doug anyway.  Lynn then says, “Then why didn’t you say so?”  Then she says she married Doug so she could sleep with Doug without her mother throwing her out of the house.  Then she admits no matter what her mother said she probably would have slept with Doug anyway because it was the 60s.

My comment:   This is nonsense.   If Ursula ever told Lynn she didn’t like Doug that would make Lynn want to marry him even more.

21:46

We have a rare moment when Lynn reminds us that she used to smoke weed in the 1960s.

22:03

Lynn talks about how she got married and moved to Ontario where he could get a job and she couldn’t.

22:18

Lynn talks about how the smog of Toronto looked like the mountains in Vancouver.

23:18

Lynn says the job at McMaster University was the absolute, best job in the world because her mother wanted to be a doctor.

Lynn tells her usual story about her times in McMaster and she really lays on the praise.  It makes me wonder who is in audience from McMaster.

24:33

Lynn tells a story about how watching an autopsy made her appreciate life and made her not want to commit suicide.  This is probably her best story in this whole presentation.  This is unlike the 10th anniversary collection when she tells this story and says it was how she rediscovered God.

28:00

Lynn name drops the Epidemiology and Biostatistics professor Dr. David Sackett, who had her draw his presentations.  She claims he asked her because his father was a cartoonist.  Cartoonist?

In The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston, she says she met him when he was working on research on “Wind and water-borne bacteria.”  As it turns out Dr. David Sacket did a lot more than just use Lynn Johnston artwork in his presentations.  Apparently the man was one of the top 50 influential doctors in the 20th century.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4467924/

Dr. David Sackett, a giant among giants (1934–2015)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sackett

David Lawrence Sackett, OC FRSC (November 17, 1934 – May 13, 2015) was an American-Canadian physician and a pioneer in evidence-based medicine. He is known as one of the fathers of Evidence-Based Medicine. He founded the first department of clinical epidemiology in Canada at McMaster University, and the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. He is well known for his textbooks Clinical Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Medicine.

One of his more famous quotes is:

"Half of what you learn in medical school is dead wrong"

Early Life and Education of David Lawrence Sackett

David Lawrence Sackett was born November 17, 1934 in Chicago, Illinois to an artist, DeForest Sackett and his wife Margaret (Ross). I literally cannot find any biography for him until reference that he earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois and trained as an internist and nephrologist.

The cause was cancer, said a family spokesman, Dr. R. Brian Haynes of the department of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Dr. Sackett founded the department in 1968.

His father, DeForest, was a designer and artist. His mother, the former Margaret Ross, was a homemaker.

28:52 

Lynn says this was the reason she went from drawing serious medical art to drawing cartoons and it matches the story she told in the 10th anniversary collection and the story in her interview with Tom Heintjes.  However, The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston tells a much longer story about how Lynn nearly got fired for not doing her assigned work and doing work for a doctor in radiology instead.  Lynn has chosen to focus on only the positives of working at McMaster

29:20

Lynn talks about her fetal development drawings, but fails to talk about how she tried to market them into a children’s book

30:50

Lynn says she was filled with miracles working at the medical school and this helped prepare her work on a comic strip because a comic strip touches everything.

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  • Wednesday, 27 October 2021

    John appeals to Elly's dying sense of romance to pry her away from her life of busywork. Synopsis: John's in the mood for a nice evening walk and…

  • Tuesday, 26 October 2021

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  • Monday, 25 October 2021

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  • 32 comments

  • Wednesday, 27 October 2021

    John appeals to Elly's dying sense of romance to pry her away from her life of busywork. Synopsis: John's in the mood for a nice evening walk and…

  • Tuesday, 26 October 2021

    The one where Mike reminds us that he'll never really grow up. Synopsis: Mike reacts to being caught pilfering Elly's baking by engaging in…

  • Monday, 25 October 2021

    The one where Elly reminds John that she lives and dies by what other people think of her. Synopsis: When John has the temerity to question Elly's…