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Frank Johnson – RIP

Cartoonist Frank Johnson has passed away.

Frank B. Johnson
April 13, 1931 – April 2, 2020

From the obituary:

Frank came out of the Army, he started working for Charlton Press Comics doing humor comic books, including “Lil Genius”, “Lil Tomboy”, “Rock and Rollo”, “Double Trouble”, “Lil Rascal Twins”, and “My Little Margie’s Boyfriends”. Frank continued drawing comic books for Charlton Press including “The Flintstones”, “The Jetsons”, “Tiger”, “Alley Oop”, “Huckleberry Hound”, “Yogi Bear”, “Beetle Bailey”, “Hi and Lois”, Dudley Do Right”, and “Underdog”. He won awards in 1972 and 1978 for Best Comic Book Humor Cartoonist at the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award dinner held at the Plaza Hotel, NYC. If an award were given out for the best husband, father, and friend he would have won it hands down. Frank created the newspaper gag comic “Beany” for the Chicago Tribune which was published in many Connecticut newspapers. Frank Johnson along with Gerald Gardner conceived a gag cartoon series named “Miss Caroline”, about President Kennedy’s daughter in the White House, which was a best-selling paperback comic book. He worked for Al Smith on “Mutt and Jeff”; he also did a cartoon for the Saturday Evening Post. In addition, he drew “Pee Wee Harris” for Boy’s Life magazine.

Blackthorne Publishing released a book “Boner’s Ark” with stories, art, and cover by Frank Johnson. Frank worked for Mort Walker on his “Beetle Bailey” comic strip doing the inking and lettering. Frank also worked for Dik Browne and then his son Bob on the “Hi and Lois” comic strip doing the inking and lettering and sometimes the penciling. Millie helped her husband on the comic strips, blacking in were needed, ruling up the pages, and erasing the finished strips. Her help allowed him more time to be with his family and friends. His last two King Feature worldwide syndicated strips were “Boner’s Ark” originated by Mort Walker and “Bringing Up Father” originated by George McManus. Frank continued to work on “Hi and Lois” until he retired from cartooning in 2012, at the age of 81.

Whew!
Yeah, Frank spent about 60 years doing comics in one form or another.

Lambiek’s Comiclopedia has a nice look at Frank’s career.

Starting with Connecticut comic book company Charlton, Frank would, in the 1960s, move to another comic company – the Mort Walker/Dik Browne operation.

Jerry Bails’ Who’s Who of Comic Books has a bibliography for Frank,
while the Grand Comics Database has more exacting credits.
Cartoon Snap and Comic Book Plus give samples of Frank’s early comic book cartooning.

comic book covers via the Grand Comics Database

While continuing his comic book work, Frank did try a couple stabs at newspaper syndication. First with the ill-fated Miss Caroline, then Einstein, and Beany.

       

In the late 1960s Frank became part of the Walker-Browne Studio helping out on their comic books and comic strips. That, by the way, didn’t stop his own comic book work or his helping other cartoonists on such syndicated features as Amy, Hubert, and Mutt and Jeff. Or doing some specialty comics like Pee Wee Harris for Boy’s Life and The Etiquette Kids for Treasure Chest. When you are as skilled a cartoonist as Frank there is constant knocking on the door for your work and assistance.

Back at King Features East (the Walker-Browne group) Frank was helping on Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois, and, importantly Boner’s Ark. In 1981 Mort Walker handed the Boner’s Ark strip off to Frank. At the same time King Features Syndicate proper hired Frank to continue the Bringing Up Father comic strip. Frank did those two strips, with some assistance from his wife Millie (and others), for twenty years. After that he would continue assisting on the Hi and Lois strip for a dozen years before retiring.

An impressive list and life in comics. Rest in peace Frank.

 

Community Comments

#1 Mike Lynch
May/14/2020
@ 12:41 pm

Yes. Like you said: what an impressive life in comics! Wow!

#2 Tom Falco
May/15/2020
@ 5:58 am

I always loved Boner’s Ark. It’s sad how so many great cartoonists are leaving us these days – our youth is going along with them.

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