Interviewer (Marcy Ien): For thirty years, Lynn Johnston has entertained readers with her 'For Better or For Worse' comic strip and now she's back with a brand-new picture book for kids. 'Farley follows his nose' stars Farley, the Old English Sheepdog, and Lynn joins us now in studio. It's a pleasure to have you here.
Lynn: It's great to meet you in person. I see you all the time and it's so exciting to be here.
Interviewer: It's a pleasure to meet you. So Farley is one curious dog; this is a great read.
Lynn: Well, thank you! It was, it was a lot of fun to do; it was, it was nice that I got a letter from Harper Collins asking if I was interested in doing a children's book and that kind of thing just spurs you on. It's like "Well, it's like a lot of work but....". So my sister-in-law, whose name is Beth, she's a veterinarian, she loves to write, she's a good writer the two of us so I called her up and the two of us sort of collaborated on an outline and worked with the editors there and came up with this story and the best part was illustrating it 'cause that's what I love to do.
Interviewer: Well, the pictures are great, they're just so full of life and vibrant and the whole thing is that Farley is following his nose. [An illustration from the book is shown] He's at this thing (the kids' party) and there's food that interests Farley [they show an illustration that has Farley salivating as he mentally pictures a hot dog] and kids that interest Farley and all the wonderful smells of flowers, all these things and the adventures he finds along the way [the next illustration shows him running up to what proves to be Phil's car] and this was based on a dog, a sheepdog you once owned; is that right?
Lynn: I once owned, I once owned an Old English Sheepdog called 'Farley' [the illustration shows him jumping headlong into a kiddie pool] and I think I wanted an Old English Sheepdog because they're cartoon dogs, I mean, they're all hair until they're wet...
Interviewer: ...and then they're Mr Mugs, do you remember Mister Mugs, oh boy, I'm probably dating myself [we shift to his SNIFFA-SNUFFA-SNIFFing the air]....
Lynn: ....so well anyway, well I haven't had a date in ever, the, the dog that we had was just a delight, he was a wonderful old guy but he was a lot of work and I had no idea but the brushing, the looking after, the training and all that kind of thing. So he's forever remembered in the comic strip, I had to bring him back to life.
Interviewer: You did and we're glad that you did. So here you are at thirtieth anniversary of the strip. Did you ever think, when you started this whole process, that thirty years later, you'd be here?
Lynn: Um, well, when you're, I was offered this job and so it was a panic so, I mean I knew I could be funny once in a while, I knew I could do a comic once in a while but to do one every single day forever is challenging. [The interview repeats that last phrase.] It's a challenge so what you do is you work from week to week and month to month and eventually it became a story and a saga and that kind of thing and thirty years went by and so I didn't, I didn't expect where it was, I didn't know where it was going but all you want to do is be able to is hit those deadlines and get it out and I've been so lucky that it's still out there, it's still, it's still in print and it's doing well.
Interviewer: Well, you generated a lot of excitement in our offices because I was speaking to a friend earlier and we were talking about the fact that you were going to be here and how much we love the comic strip and her point was "And she ages her characters." [Lynn: That's right.] And that's not something that you often see. Why do you do that?
Lynn: Well, it worked best for me in writing story lines because you need change in something like this; to write something about characters that are static is very difficult. And so, for me, the change was really important and the story lines were really important but you have to deal with lifespans then so, of course, the dog had to disappear. So, when Farley died, it was tragic and it was hard to write about so to be able to go back and able to do a story about the dog has been a lot of fun. And to be able to start the strip again from the beginning has been a lot of fun too and I'm really enjoying that. And working on it.
Interviewer: And the thing too is that you deal with real life. [They both repeat the sentence 'That's right.']
Lynn: And going back for me has really been great because I can identify with the young kids again. I couldn't identify with Michael, you know, the adult Michael with his [stammers a bit] new children coming up. I'm a, I'm a grandmother-age right now, I'm not, I don't know anything about kids today, about their iPods and their toys that do everything. So, it's much easier to go back into my own past.
Interviewer: And learn a few things along the way.
Lynn: And remember a lot of things. [The interviewer smilingly repeats this.]
You have a five-year-old right now, don't you?
Interviewer: Almost; she's four and three quarters, she'll tell you she's five. She's almost five and she's going to be thrilled because this is going to be her bedtime story tonight.
Lynn: I'll be thrilled to sign in for her, thanks.
Interviewer: It was so nice to meet you.
Lynn: You too.
The following things should be noted:
- Lynn, as always, looks better than Elly.
- She clearly seems to have forgotten trivial details such as her interviewer's first name.
- She gives her standard response about how not aging the characters is difficult. The interviewer is too flattered and pressed for time to notice that Schulz had no problem.
- She states that Beth was the only person that helped directly with the book. (As forworse says, she mentions working with 'editors'; editors named Patty and Chrissie.)
- She sidesteps the issue of what happened to the real Farley in a way that would quietly alarm every animal lover in the country.
- She makes that annoying comment about being a grandmother's age.
- She also says she can't relate to today's kids or Adult Michael so thus must return to her past.
- This means she contradicted her statement about the strip occurring in the persent day.
- None of what she said surprised me. It did, however, sadden me.