Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Birthday, Crockett Johnson

Cartoonist Crockett Johnson was born 100 years ago today. My thanks to vigilant Tom Spurgeon over at Comics Reporter for this. Tom has assembled many links today. So, if you only know HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON, then take a peek and discover his BARNABY strip.

I still have the 1943 collection of BARNABY that my Dad gave me when I was a kid, and it still reads well today. While the conceit that a little kid has a shyster Fairy Godfather named Mr. O'Malley that only he can see may sound trite, it was handled whimsically by Johnson. Barnaby is fond of Mr. O'Malley, despite the latter's ineffective "magic Havana cigar." As the years went by, the strip got a large, fanciful cast: McSnoyd the Invisible Leprachaun (And he really was invisible -- so easy to draw!), Gus the Ghost -- so timid he scared himself, Gorgon the Talking Dog, etc. I better go and reread some these strips today, in honor of Mr. Johnson.

Despite a similar comic strip premise, CALVIN & HOBBES creator Bill Watterson said in interviews that he never read BARNABY.

And thanks again, Dad, for the terrific book you gave me in 1970!

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