Since 1979, Lynn Johnston's clan Elly, John, Michael, Elizabeth, and now April - has charmed moms, dads, brothers and sisters with their light-hearted chronicles in For Better or For Worse.
Johnston's presentation of daily battles, bungles, tears, and smiles has endeared her to a loyal following in more than 2,000 newspapers in Canada, the U.S., and 23 other countries worldwide. For Better or For Worse is translated into eight other languages. Twenty-four books are currently in print, and Johnston's work is featured on television specials, videocassettes, and calendars.
Johnston was born in Collingwood, Ontario, and grew up in British Columbia. She attended the Vancouver School of Art, and then took a job in an animation studio in Vancouver before moving to Ontario with her new husband. Unable to find work in animation, she was employed as a medical artist at McMaster University.
When pregnant with her first child, Johnston was challenged by her obstetrician to create some drawings for the ceilings above his examining tables. She did over 80 comic drawings in all. The drawings were published in a book called, David, We're Pregnant which has sold over 300,000 copies.
Shortly after the publication of her first book, Lynn divorced and was working as a freelance commercial artist. Her second book, Hi Mom, Hi Dad was published in 1975. It was during this time that she met and married Rod Johnston. Do They Ever Grow Up? was the third in a sequence of books that Johnston began as a humourous but down-to-earth look at parenting.
In 1978, Universal Press Syndicate wrote and asked Lynn if she was interested in doing a daily comic strip. She sent away examples of The Johnstons, a series based on her own family. "We were the only people I knew I could draw over and over again with some consistency," she recalls. Expecting to be turned down, she received and ultimately signed a 20-year contract.
The real-life Johnstons now reside in northern Ontario. They live quite privately, preferring to regard the family as the most important part of their lives.
"I've always loved to draw, and have always had a silly streak in me that more often than not got me into trouble," says Lynn. "I always knew I would be a cartoonist, but I never expected to make my LIVING as one."
Universal offered Lynn a 20-year contract on the basis of her ingenious work.