Saturday, February 2, 2013

Where It All Began...

Johnny optimism, johnnyoptimism, stilton jarlsberg, lance the dog, medical humor, wheelchair, origin

Readers- Per a discussion in the comments section (see yesterday's post) about the varying copyright dates on my Johnny cartoons, I thought I'd share a little history about how Johnny came to be.

In May 2010, I was having lunch with my wife and a good friend (an author) who complained that children's books these days all seemed to need a heavy-handed social message in order to sell. I joked that he should do a book about a terminally ill boy in a wheelchair named "Johnny Optimism."  And just to take the joke a step farther, I roughed out the book cover above and sent it to him.

The next day, my mother died. And for reasons I can't logically explain, I spent the following weeks grieving by obsessively creating Johnny Optimism cartoons - lots of them - trying to somehow rediscover joy, laughter, or just a little relief in the blackest of circumstances. And it helped me to laugh at life's pain (not at its victims) and realize that we're all like Johnny - just doing our best to cope.

Happily, Lance the dog made it into the strip without blindness or a bad cough. In fact, he's the bestest, most loyalest dog in the whole world and nothing bad will ever happen to him (my daughter made me promise).

Since 2010, I've continued creating Johnny cartoons while also posting from the deep stockpile of older strips. I'm just about caught up, though, so in the future you won't see many strips which don't have a 2013 copyright date.

-Stilton Jarlsberg


DougM said...

Love it.
One suggestion, though:
Re-title the book, "Johnny Optimism and Lance, the most loyalest dog in the whole world who, unlike Johnny, nothing bad will ever happen to."
You're welcome.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

DougM- I'll certainly keep that in mind, especially if I create a book which has a lot of room on the cover!

JustaJeepGuy said...

@DougM, that's "...Lance, the MOSTEST loyalest dog...". Lance is even betterer than Lassie!

Pete(Detroit) said...

Thx for the info Stilt - cool to know the background.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Pete(Detroit)- I've shared the story before, but like to remind people from time to time so they understand where this strip is coming from.

Gang of One said...

I get a sense of childish glee when I print out Johnny and Lance strips at about 25 percent original size, and paste them into the lower corner of the bulletin board reserved for the school's animal friends after-school club.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Gang of One- It's all about sharing the love.

Reiuxcat said...

Love Johnny!

Keep up the good work Stilton.