Cartoonist Lynn Johnston and retired Miami veterinarian Beth Cruikshank drew plenty of laughs from a very crowded Miami Friendship Centre.
The duo teamed up to write the children’s book Farley Follows His Nose and they spoke about it at centre on Sept 25.
Farley is the Old English Sheepdog from Johnston’s long running comic strip For Better Or For Worse, which chronicles the lives of the Patterson family.
“Farley is one of the most popular characters in the comic strip,” Cruikshank said as Johnston drew the lovable dog and other characters on an easel.
“He’s usually in trouble of some kind and he’s not real bright,” Cruikshank added about the dog.
In one story line from the mid 1980’s, Farley went missing for the better part of a day. The story followed the point of view of the Pattersons.
“In the original story you never find out where Farley went, It’s all about the Pattersons worried about him and wondering where he is,” Cruikshank explained.
Cruikshank and Johnston, former sisters-in-law and long time collaborators, decided Farley’s point of view would make for a great story line for a book.
“A couple of years ago Harper-Collins got a hold of Lynn and asked to do a children’s book,” the retired Miami vet said. “We decided to do a book on Farley and the question came up as what kind of story we should do. I told Lynn I’ve always wondered where did Farley go? He disappeared and what did he do? So we decided it was time to tell the rest of the story.”
The cartoonist was, for the most part, very happy with the outcome.
“The collaboration was really interesting because neither of us had worked with another person before. You have been really careful not to correct something or change something, or demand something that the other wasn’t kind of keen on. We were surprised at the start that we got along really well.” Johnston said.
“The worst part was dealing with the publishers, because not only are we editors of our own work, but the publisher also comes with their editors,” she added.
Prior to For Better Or For Worse, Johnston was a graphic artist and explained how she dealt with editors back then.
“When I worked in graphics I used to make sure that I had a spelling mistake whenever I did a poster so they would correct the spelling mistake and not touch my art!”
For the book, Johnston said the only big argument with the editors was over the front cover.
Johnston and Cruikshank wanted Farely with his nose to the ground, while the editors wanted the dog to be running.
“When a dog is sniffing a dog has got his nose to the ground,” Johnston said.
In turn the editors took her illustration that included a lot of scenery and made it into a close up of the beloved sheep dog. At one point during the 45-minute presentation Johnston hilariously summed up the meaning of editors.
“Editors, they’re like mosquitoes at a picnic!” she joked.
The cartoonist also spoke of the words for sound effects she has used in her strips.
“One of the good things about cartoons is writing and drawing as well. You can do all of these funny sounds. One of my favourite sound effect to write is a toilet plunger.”
“Flup-flup-baga, flup-flup-baga!” Johnston said as she demonstrated the plunging motion.
A portion of the proceeds from the book sales are going to the Farley Foundation, an organization providing veterinary services for pets whose owners can’t afford the bills.
Johnston’s comic strip began in 1979 and is published in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide. Recently she ended For Better Or For Worse, only to restart it from the beginning with 50 per cent new stories.
The original Farley appeared as a pup in 1980 died from a heart attack in 1995 after saving then four-year-old April Patterson from a river. With the “re-booting” of the strip Farley was reborn.
Beth Cruikshank and her husband became the basis of veterinarian Bev Cruikshank and farmer husband Dan. Beth (?) is Elly’s sister-in-law.
Beth is writing biographies of the strip’s 110 characters. from the last 30 years.