TRANSCRIPT FOR HEARING IMPAIRED.
The Future of "For Better or For Worse"
An interview with cartoonist Lynn Johnston
As you wrap up the storyline of Elizabeth's wedding, what follows in September?
I wanted to end the story with a wedding. Because, really, the story is all about relationships within marriage. It ends on a high note and a philosophical note and yet it begins again right from the beginning, which is very exciting. "The strips beginning in September are not reruns; they're brand new illustrations; brand new content, brand new jokes (everything) ... (well, I hope there are jokes). What's exciting is that I'm drawing in my old style. When I do start putting new retro material in, I want it all to match.
What are you calling these new strips that are done in the retro style?
"I don't have a name for it, but it's new-runs, I think. It's not re-runs because everything is new, the punch lines, the drawings are new; the only thing retro is the way I'm drawing everything because I want it to flow into the classic material seamlessly if I can and it's a challenge but I'm really enjoying it."
What's the ratio of new to old material the first year?
I'm hoping to do 50% new for the first year, because I think that will be necessary in order to bring the story together. It will vary; there might be months when there are no old material or no classic material, (cause I don't think it's old—it's all coming new again) Then there will be some where it will be sporadic; it will vary, but there will be an awful lot of new material, especially the Sundays."
What's your message to fans and editors?
"My fans and my editors--we are a team. I couldn't do this without the joy of knowing that really neat people are reading what I do, and that includes my editors. I've had some wonderful exchanges with my editors. I know some people are concerned about it coming back full circle, starting from the beginning again. I really want them to hang in there with me and see what I do because it's never been done before. I have no one to emulate; to copy. It's a work in progress. It's going to be a whole new generation of people reading this; a whole new batch of work. Come along and see where I go with this. I'll be fun."
Why this approach and why now?
"Originally, like I said, at this time in my life I thought I would be on a cruise ship to Panama or the Mediterranean; retired with my Tilley hats, my sneakers. But who writes this novel? I have the luxury of writing a novel, and I keep wondering who's writing for me because I never thought I would be single at this time in my life. With that in mind, I still want to work and keep my hand in this and take the opportunity of going back in time. I'm very excited about that. Because I don't have to work 365 days of material into a year, I can still take some time off; I can paint and travel.
Can you describe how your style has changed?
It was very unsure. Although I was always able to draw pretty well, I did medical illustrations for a quite while, which is very exacting. But the comics style was very very fast and loose probably because I was so busy and I had to get it out fast. I only had from 9 to noon to work, so it was very sloppy, but in being sloppy, it also had a happy freedom to it that it lost. And so I'm looking now as though I'm drawing portraits. I'm changing the shape of John's jaws; and changing the shape ... Elly's nose grew to the size of a potato, and now it's smaller again; the way it was when I first started to draw. My son would call and say, "Mom, what's this about the inflatable nose?"... I would draw her with a bigger nose when she was pissed off about something and smaller when she was being sweet and kind to the kids. Yea, it's a huge difference between the two styles. And going back is like being me again at the age of 30. How often to you get to go back in time? I'm 30 again!"