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 Lynn Ridgway Franks Johnston  (1947 - )



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Lived/Active: Manitoba/Ontario / Canada      Known for: comic strip, cartoon drawing, book illustration

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
For Better or For Worse Sunday Comic Strip dated 12-16-84 (Universal Press Syndicate, 1984)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Lynn Johnston, CM, OM (born May 28, 1947) is a Canadian cartoonist, well known for her comic strip For Better or For Worse, and was the first woman and first Canadian to win the National Cartoonist Society's Reuben Award.

Born Lynn Ridgway in Collingwood, Ontario, she was raised in North Vancouver, British Columbia. She attended the Vancouver School of Art with hopes of making a living as an artist. After working briefly in animation, she married in 1969, and moved back to Ontario, where she worked as a medical artist at McMaster University for five years. Johnston's illustrations are currently in storage in McMaster's medical archive. They include depictions of routine hospital happenings, such as a father smoking in the waiting room.

While expecting her first child, she drew single-panel cartoons for the ceiling of her obstetrician's office. Those drawings were published in her first book, entitled David We're Pregnant, which was published in 1973. After her divorce, she did free-lance commercial and medical art in a greenhouse which was converted into a studio. Hi Mom! Hi Dad!, a sequel to David, was published in 1975. Shortly thereafter, she met and married dental student Rod Johnston.

In 1978, the Johnstons and their two children relocated to Lynn Lake, Manitoba. She was asked by Universal Press Syndicate if she was interested in doing a comic strip. She sent off twenty copies of a strip called The Johnstons, based on her own family "since we were the only people I knew I could draw over and over again with some consistency." Much to her surprise, the syndicate approved of the initial strips and offered her a twenty-year contract. After a six-month "work-up" period, the strip first appeared in newspapers throughout Canada under the title For Better or For Worse. The strip is currently carried by about 2000 newspapers in Canada, the U.S. and 20 other countries.

Many story lines draw from her family's real-life experiences, and the characters in For Better of For Worse have aged in "real time". On August 31, 2008, Johnston herself appeared in the Sunday strip, which was supposed to be the end of the cartoon, and announced that she would take the story back nearly 30 years to soon after its beginning, with half of the material to be new and the other half repeats. The "new" material was actually reworked versions of older strips with retouched artwork and new dialogue; as of July 12, 2010, this practice was abandoned, and the syndicated strip now consists strictly of straight reprints of Johnston's early 1980s-era work.

Personal life
Since the 1990s, Johnston has been notably forthcoming in her discussion of the abuse inflicted on her by her mother, her first husband, and her lack of being prepared to be a mother to her son Aaron—topics which have also been reflected in the strip. A column by Jan Wong of The Globe and Mail, reprinted in Lunch With Jan Wong disclosed Johnston's difficult personality and considerable irascibility, and provided an alternate insight into her some of her complaints of being victimised by persons in her life.

Johnston now resides in the Northern Ontario town of Corbeil.  Her daughter Katie lives in Corbeil and works at the For Better or For Worse studio, while her son Aaron works in the television industry in Vancouver, BC. In September 2007, Lynn and Rod Johnston announced their separation and intention to divorce.  Johnston had talked about either ending For Better or For Worse or handing it off to another cartoonist, but changed her mind as a result of her split from her husband of over 30 years.

Johnston had a close friendship with Charles M. Schulz, creator of Peanuts.  She wrote the introduction to The Complete Peanuts: 1981-1982.

Awards and honours
    •    1985 - Reuben Award, the first woman and first Canadian to win
    •    1987 - Gemini Award, Best Cartoon Series
    •    1990 - Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario
    •    1991 - National Cartoonist Society Newspaper Comic Strip Award
    •    1992 - Made a Member of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honour
    •    1993 - Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
    •    1993 - Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for a story on Lawrence's coming out
    •    1999 - Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws, U. of Western Ontario, London, Ontario
    •    2000 - Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario
    •    2000 - Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design,
    •    2001 - Comic of the Year, Editor and Publisher
    •    2003 - A star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto
    •    2004 - Debwewin Citation, Anishinabek Nation,  excellence in Aboriginal-journalism
    •    2007 - Order of Manitoba
    •    2008 - Inducted into the Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame
    •    2008 - Inducted into the National Cartoon Museum Hall of Fame



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