The Neverending Crayon; or, Happy Crockett Johnson’s Birthday!

Happy Crockett Johnson’s Birthday! Were he among the living, he would turn 117 today.

(Spoiler alert: he died 48 years ago.)

Crockett Johnson Laughs, 1967. Courtesy of Nina Stagakis.
Crockett Johnson laughs, 1967. Courtesy of Nina Stagakis.

I had hoped to be able to offer an Official Announcement of some forthcoming Crockett Johnson projects. Instead, I can offer one unofficial announcement, one teaser, and one expectation.

Unofficial, but hopeful: Barnaby Vol. 5: 1950-1952 (Fantagraphics) will, we hope, be out in the fall of 2024. In addition to offering the conclusion to Johnson’s classic comic strip, this also has an afterword and notes by me, an introduction by comics scholar Susan Kirtley, and a foreword by an Oscar-winning director. I think you’ll enjoy it!

Teaser: In December, I hope to be able to announce the good news about a book, the working title for which was How to Read Harold: A Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson, and the Making of a Children’s Classic. There is good news! I just cannot share it yet. So, as they say, “watch this space.”

Expectation: The live-action film of Harold and the Purple Crayon was supposed to be released this past summer, and now has a release date of August 2, 2024. It stars Zachary Levi and Zooey Deschanel. I have nothing to do with this project, but I’m looking forward to seeing it.

I have also been thinking, lately, of how remarkable it is that a small book should have such an impact on my life and career. When, as a young child, I first met Harold and his crayon, I could not have guessed that, 50 years later, I would still be writing and thinking about Crockett Johnson. And yet, here I am.

Hoping that you will forgive the indulgence, here’s a catalogue of some of the ways that Johnson’s work has inspired or influenced mine:

When Harold and the Purple Crayon landed in the pond of my life, I could not have imagined that ripples would still be coursing outwards.

So. Happy birthday, Crockett Johnson!  Though we never met, I’m glad I’ve gotten to know you.

Crockett Johnson birthday posts from previous years

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