Monthly Archives: May 2015

Friday May 1, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

Looking back I wonder how I managed to concentrate on such a solo job with life going on all around me. I had to divide my time carefully. I kept to a routine — depending on my daycare provider across the street and the time Aaron would be in school. My most productive hours were between 9:00 am and noon. I wouldn’t be able to go back to the studio until both kids were fed and ready for bed. I often worked until midnight, then I was up by 6:00 am the next day to get breakfast prepared, lunches ready, and set out the kids’ clothes for the day. It’s no wonder that the drawings done in my early years were so simple!

Saturday May 2, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

When I was first engaged (1967) and my name was Lynn Ridgway, women were all expected to change their last name to that of their husband’s. Even though I didn’t really like my new name after marriage, I dutifully signed my work "Lynn Franks." Later, when I married Rod Johnston, I thought my full name was too long to put on the bottom of the comic strip and resorted to signing just "Lynn." For me, it felt right. It was the one name which I would always have — no matter what!

Sunday May 3, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

After this strip ran, I received dozens of letters from readers who wanted to know what the heck was Michael doing with a bag of milk! Everyone knows that milk comes in waxed paper cartons or in plastic jugs, so what was this all about anyway?!

All an artist has to draw from is what she sees around her, and in my place of residence, milk comes in cartons, but also in strong plastic bags with a set of three bags of milk inside. Each smaller bag contains a litre of milk and we use special plastic or pottery jugs to keep them upright in the fridge. This way of packaging milk is as familiar in Canada as Coke in a can, so I assumed my readers everywhere would get the gag! Not so. The thing that struck me about the questioning letters was that some of them were as cruel and derisive as the trolls on the internet are today. They spoke with indignant authority, demanding to know what the **** I was talking about! Didn’t I KNOW that milk doesn’t come in bags?

Fortunately, this was when mean messages came with return addresses and we had a lot of fun sending photos and copies of milk advertisements to those who needed to see it for themselves. The impression I got from this was that not enough people travel, and they should!…Especially to Canada.

Tuesday May 5, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

This was done at a time when letters from readers were coming in such volume that I had to ask a friend to help me answer them. It was the simple, every day things people related to. Things like never-ending laundry, phones ringing in the middle of dinner, and the fact that it would be nice to hear the word "thanks" once in awhile.

Wednesday May 6, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

Raising kids is a career. It’s the most important one there is. It’s unpaid and often unappreciated, but it sets the rules and the temperament for the next generation. Whenever I heard a woman say, "I’m just a home maker" or "just a housewife," I grit my teeth. Like all women who must take time to earn a living, I relied on good daycare to help me raise my children, but I was a hands–on parent. I earned the "mom" in "working mom."

Friday May 8, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

One of the best Mother’s Day gifts I ever received was a small, round plaster "pancake" into which my son, Aaron, had pressed his hand. This was the brainchild of his kindergarten teacher. On the card that came with it was written, "This is the hand you held when I was five." It was a precious, wonderful keepsake, which was, sadly lost when we moved to North Bay from Lynn Lake. When my daughter’s two children were babies, she pressed their hands and feet into similar pads of clay. I hope she keeps them in a safer spot than I did!

Sunday May 10, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

I toyed with the idea of making the punch line something like: "But, Mom, you don’t PAY me!" But then, I thought back to the times in my own childhood when I hated doing menial tasks at home but would help a neighbour just for the fun of it. I didn’t actually enjoy doing things for my parents until I was well into my teens! When it comes to understanding kids, it’s a good thing we have our memories to rely on. We just have to admit that we did the exact same things.

Tuesday May 12, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

For years, the lot next door to our house on Fifth Street was empty. Then it was sold and the new house seemed to take forever to be built. During the time of construction, my mom railed at the dirt, the plaster, and all the dangerous materials that were left lying about on the property. We kids had a wonderful time playing in the sand, jumping on the plywood and piling up the bricks. I clearly remember sitting on my knees shaping plaster and dirt into patties, and then tasting them to see if they had turned into cookies. I was convinced they were the real thing!

Thursday May 14, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

Living in North Vancouver meant putting up with wet and cloudy weather. As soon as a sunny day arrived, Mom would shove us outside and leave us there. Sometimes we found amazing things to do and didn’t want to go back inside until the sun went down. And, sometimes we felt as though we had been banished forever. If I send myself back in time and imagine that I’m six years old sitting on our front porch waiting to be allowed back in, I feel…hungry. In order to keep us out of her hair, maybe Mom should have fed us first.

Saturday May 16, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

I will soon be going to my high school reunion. We were a close-knit bunch, and several dedicated organizers make it possible for us to have a reunion every five years. It’s great to see everyone once more. We all talk openly about how we teased each other, and how mean we sometimes were.

As kids growing up in "wartime housing" during the 50s, we all thought other families were better off than we were. Last reunion, in a moment of wine-fuelled honesty, I told my friend Ruby that I had been especially nice to her when I discovered she had a television set. At the time, few families could afford to buy a television and I told her how jealous I was. I said, "You were the envy of every kid from Fifth Street to Eighth!" Ruby smiled and said, "Lynn, my dad worked in a furniture store and the owner allowed him to borrow a television from time to time because he was such a good employee. We didn’t own a television either!"

Sunday May 17, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

During the 50s, bubble gum cost two cents a piece. Two pieces would fill your mouth with a perfect wad — the best for blowing bubbles. We kids would go to the corner store, pool our money, and buy the two pieces. Then, we would share the gum! The wad had to go from mouth to mouth in good time so that the flavour was enjoyed by all. Sometimes, as many as four kids would share. We’d all see who could blow the biggest bubble. It got in our hair, on our clothes, and our mouths would sport a dirty, sticky circle of gunge as we blew and popped and blew again.

AAAAUGH! I can’t believe I told you that!

Monday May 18, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

I once asked a friend to stay for dinner without asking my mother first. I didn’t know that we only had enough food for the four in our family. Not wanting to be rude to my friend, Mom agreed to set another place at the table, but she had to fry bread with the potatoes, then cut the meat up into small pieces and mix it with the gravy in order to accommodate an extra person. Later, she explained to me that we weren’t always able to feed others, and I was never to ask if I could stay at someone else’s house for dinner. Even if I was invited, she cautioned me to be aware that the other family might have not have as much as we had.

Wednesday May 20, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

This was based on our neighbours in Lynn Lake, who had an elaborate train set in their basement. When I saw it, I thought it belonged to their eldest son, but was surprised to discover that it was the dad who had set it up. This was long before my husband built a model train you could actually ride on! What is it with trains, anyway?

Monday May 25, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

I always enjoyed the opportunity to pop a bit of rhyme into the text of FBFW. I love to read and write poetry, and am partial to poetry that rhymes. A comic strip, like the dialogue in a play, has to have a cadence: a rhythm so as to move the audience smoothly along. Excessive commentary, even a single word out of place, can take you out of the moment and weaken the punch line. ie:

"What do you call a dog with no legs? ….
It doesn’t matter. He won’t come anyway."
(This works.)

"What would you call a dog if it didn’t have any legs"
… It doesn’t matter because he wouldn’t come if you called him anyway!"
(This one you stumble over.)

It takes time to learn how to write with an economy of words; to be able to engage your audience thoroughly and not waste precious seconds on "roadblocks." More after dinner speeches should be written this way!

Thursday May 28, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

When I first started to do public speaking I was so scared, I was physically ill. But I wanted to learn, so I accepted all kinds of invitations and I did my talks for free. I got to feel confident and decided to ask for an honorarium but I had no idea how much to ask for. I did talks for charity and talks for the price of the airfare and a hotel. Eventually, when I was happy with my presentations, well compensated, and able to enjoy the sight of a huge audience…I didn’t want to do it any more!

Saturday May 30, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

The punch line in this strip isn’t original. "Jocks vs Smocks" was a kvetch invented when I was in high school. All the grant money seemed to go towards sports with the arts left sadly behind. Sports always seemed to be highlighted and I don’t think anything’s changed! I’m as supportive as anyone when it comes to seeing our young people exercise, learn to work with a team, and enjoy competition, but what about the artists and actors, dancers, writers, and musicians out there? If you don’t believe these essential skills and creative abilities are as important as sports, you’re not thinking. Come on, Jocks! Look at it this way: you’re leaving the people who create the arenas, the lighting, the seating, the music, and the half time entertainment behind!

Sunday May 31, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

This was a scenario from home. My daughter, Katie, had, at the age of four, learned how to use a screwdriver, and had gone about my mother-in-law’s house unscrewing things. Ruth tried to open a kitchen cupboard door and it came off in her hands along with the handle. We were both perplexed. How in the world had all the screws come loose? We looked about for Katie and found her outside in the driveway trying to take the license plates off my car!