Friday, May 15, 2020

Frank Johnson 1931 - 2020

Frank Johnson, a veteran cartoonist known for his work on "Hi and Lois," Bringing Up Father," as well as humor and TV tie-in comic books, passed away recently. No cause of death was given.

After a stint in the army during the Korean War (in which he was awarded two Bronze Stars), Frank Johnson seemed to hit the ground running. 

Via Lambiek:

"He started off working on various children's comics for St. John Publishing, Fago Comics and most notably Charlton Comics in the period 1956-1960. Most of these dealt with peculiar kids, which cause havoc wherever they go, such as Charlton's 'Rock and Rollo', 'Li'l Genius', 'Li'l' Tomboy' and 'Li'l Rascal Twins', St. Johns' 'Double Trouble' and Fago's 'Li'l Menace'. Other comic books featured funny animals (Charlton's 'Tom Cat') or a ghost kid (St. John's 'Li'l Ghost'). He also drew for 'My Little Margie's Boyfriends', Charlton's comic book series based on the TV sitcom 'My Little Margie.'"

"Li'L Tomboy," a 1960s era Charlton Comics series created by Frank Johnson. CartoonSNAP has the whole story here

The list of book and newspaper feature projects that he was part of is staggering. He created a comic strip "Beany" (1963 - 1979) for the Chicago Tribune, that ran vertically, every other Sunday. That same year "Miss Caroline," he drew and Gerald Gardner wrote a gag cartoon series in which the (fictional) daughter of then-President Kennedy asked innocent funny questions about the world situation. It became a best-selling paperback and a syndicate bought it -- but it was canceled upon Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963. In 1964-65, he drew a strip "Einstein," about a boy and his genius dog. By the late 1960s, Johnson became Mort Walker's assistant, working, uncredited, on a number of features like "Beetle Bailey" and "Hi and Lois." He would helm the art chores for "Boner's Ark" during most of its run.

He won the National Cartoonists Society "Best Comic Book Humor Cartoonist" in 1972 and 1978.


"Besides newspaper comics, Johnson also remained active in the comic book industry. In the mid 1960s, Johnson made the moralistic feature 'The Etiquette Kids' with writer Sadie Costa for the Catholic bi-weekly comics magazine Treasure Chest, published by George A. Pflaum in Ohio. He had continued to appear in a couple of humor and cartoon anthologies by Charlton in the 1960s, but worked for the publisher more frequently from 1970 onwards. He mostly drew comic book stories starring famous animated characters, including Hanna-Barbera's 'The Flintstones', 'The Jetsons', 'Huckleberry Hound' and 'Yogi Bear', Jay Ward's 'Dudley Do-Right' and W. Watts Biggers' 'Underdog'. He drew comic book stories with V.T. Hamlin's 'Alley Oop' and Bud Blake's 'Tiger' too, while creating comics based on Paul Terry's 'Heckle and Jeckle' for Western Publishing in the 1970s.

"Between 19 February 1981 and 28 May 2000 Johnson succeeded Hal Campagna and Bill Cavanaugh as the artist and writer of 'Bringing Up Father', originally created by George McManus in 1913. He was the final artist to continue it until its eventual cancellation by King Features Syndicate. Mort Walker occasionally wrote gags for 'Bringing Up Father' during this era too. Johnson is said to have also filled in on Walt Disney's 'Treasury of Classic Tales' (1982) and on Jack Tippit's 'Amy' strip. Frank Johnson retired from the comics industry because of health issues in 2000."


The Daily Cartoonist on Frank Johnson obituary

Ger Apeldoorn on Frank Johnson 

The entire run of Miss Caroline cartoons

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