Until last month, only five people had ever received the Medal of Honor award from the National Cartoonists Society (NCS). On May 26, Lynn Johnston became the fifth cartoonist--and the first woman--to receive the honor for a lifetime of outstanding work in her field.
Johnston chronicled the life of a typical Canadian family in the classic strip For Better or For Worse for more than 30 years. The origin of the strip began in 1978 when Johnston sent Universal Press Syndicate 20 samples of what she titled, "The Johnstons." The syndicate signed Johnston to a contract and, over the following three decades, her comic family thrived, facing head-on the everyday joys, challenges, and social changes that many North American families have experienced.
"For Better or For Worse" now appears in over 1,600 newspapers in the U.S., Canada and other countries. Johnston, who won the Reuben Award (cartooning's equivalent to the Oscar) in 1985, said she was surprised and humbled to receive the Medal of Honor at last month's awards ceremony.
"I will treasure it. And, I believe with all my heart that it belongs to every one of us who draws cartoons for a living. It looks like an easy job, but it certainly is not," Johnston stated in a blog post on the For Better or For Worse website.
She added that, "I don't feel like I have achieved a lifetime's worth of work. Not yet...there is still so much that I want to do!"
The NCS's Medal of Honor is presented to a cartoonist who has already won a Reuben. Prior to Johnston, there had only been five medal recipients--Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth, Mort Walker, Mell Lazarus and Mort Drucker.
Click here to read For Better or For Worse on GoComics from the very first strip in September 1979.