Cartoonist Lynn Johnston thought she would be retired by now. Her 29-year-old award-winning syndicated comic strip, For Better or for Worse, now appears in more than 2,000 papers around the world and has produced 46 books.
But the dissolution of a 32-year marriage recently caused Johnston, 60, to change her mind about retiring completely. "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 I'm a single lady now, and I want to keep working," she says. "Because I don't have to work 365 days of new material into a year, I can still take some time off to paint and travel." Johnston explains her reversal of earlier plans to retire on YouTube.com.
Instead, Johnston, the first woman to be named cartoonist of the year by the National Cartoonists Society, will peruse the archive of the Patterson family's 10,000 comic strips and retell their story from the beginning with updated drawings and story lines, which she calls "new-runs." "I'm a better storyteller now, and I want to improve the story line or take a piece of art and make it better. What a luxury to change, fix, and to augment. I'm such a perfectionist. I want to put my hands on it and have it tweaked here and there," she says about her new project. "I'm considering this a renewal, not a retirement."
Prequels aside, the story line of For Better or for Worse reaches its conclusion on Sunday. And Johnston gets to choose her own ending. Spoiler alert: The Washington Post, which is dropping the "new-runs" strip in the paper but will continue to carry it online, reports that in the final chapter the original Patterson kids, Michael and Elizabeth, will forever remain grown and married.