Lynn Johnston Lives on For Better
What do you do after winding down your comic strip, which you have produced daily since 1979? You go to Peru to act as an interpreter, of course.
Lynn Johnston, whose For Better or For Worse ended on August 31, told the Peterborough Examiner that she is off to South America.
"I’m on my way to Peru," she told the newspaper. "I’m working with a medical team, as an intermediary between patients and physicians." She got a taste of this by accompanying her dentist husband on a trip to Honduras a decade ago. Not knowing the language at the time proved difficult for her so she came home and studied Spanish and is now fluent enough to make a valuable contribution.
"This is something I’ve dreamt of and have wanted to do for a very long time."
And she’s doing it alone since her husband of 30 years left her on April 23. The dissolution of her marriage came at a time she was already planning to wrap up the original material for the strip and plan the rest of her life.
She took the news hard and found herself creating a series of paintings to reflect her evolving mood. Her children — Aaron, 35, and Kate, 31 — provided tremendous emotional support but it fell to Johnston to assume control of the company that merchandises the strip and its characters.
It was a learning experience for her and she wound up having to downsize the company in the wake of the divorce and the strip’s natural conclusion.
He had also emptied their joint bank accounts, leaving her in a financial hole that came as a rude shock. "I’d been like a little kid, like a five year-old. Tell me how much I can spend this week, Dad," she described. "If I was not astute as a businessperson before, I suddenly had this overwhelming education within a month in which I had to learn how to do everything. It’s empowering actually because you suddenly realize there’s all this stuff you should have been doing all along."
What she does know is art and storytelling and in addition to revising her earliest strips which now run in the newspapers, she is also branching out. Farley Follows His Nose will be her first children’s book, due out next spring from The Bowen Press.