Friday, 5 June 2009

Maxine Exposed

One of my most favourite bits of the Journal is 'Maxine's World', depicting a tetchy old lady with great 'put down' lines. Now meet the man who created this very funny cartoon character and read how he, and Maxine, became celebrities.


John Wagner, Hallmark artist since 1970, says Maxine was inspired by his mother, his maiden aunts and his grandmother, the woman who bought him art lessons when 'fill in the pumpkins' was about the extent of his art classes at St. John's Catholic School in Leonia N.J. John remembers doodling as a pre-schooler and says both his grandmother and his mother encouraged his artistic interests. He eventually attended the Vesper George School of Art in Boston and landed at Hallmark as part of a new artists group. But it was the birth of the humorous Shoebox Greetings ( a tiny little division of Hallmark) in 1986 that added a new dimension to John's personal life. The Shoebox way of seeing the world unleashed his talents and he created Maxine.

"Cartoonists are sensitive to the insanities of the world; we just try to humourize them," John says. "If Maxine can get a laugh out of someone who is getting older and hates the thought of another birthday, or if she can make someone chuckle about stressful interpersonal relationships, then I'm happy. Putting a smile on someones face is what it's all about.

Those smiles have led to Maxine becoming a bit of a celebrity. She (and John) have been the subject of media stories, including People, USA Today, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, and Las Vegas Journal-Review, and they have been included in a major Associated Press story.

Collector and trade publications have reported fans nationwide are collecting Maxine items. Letters from consumers and fans to John and Maxine reveal a very personal connection to Maxine. Many people say they are just like her.

Why the name Maxine? People at Shoebox started referring to the character as "John Wagner's old lady," and I knew that would get me into trouble with my wife," John says. The Shoebox team had a contest among themselves to name the character and three of the approximately 30 entries suggested 'Maxine.' John says the name is perfect.

John, who says he's humbled by such acceptance of Maxine, admits he's proud of her.


Combination art gallery and air-conditioner for the kitchen.

What you do to relax your wife

School Teacher
A disillusioned person who used to think he liked children.

Show Off
A child who is more talented than yours.

Today's Smile


To solve today's brainteaser puzzle, simply find the word that links the two words given. The dashes indicate the number of letters in the word you are looking for. Good luck!

ARM (-----) LIFT





Answers in tomorrows Journal.


These incredible images were taken by the No.1 photographer of surf, Clark Little. He has dedicated his life to photographing the waves and has published a selection of the best images of his career. He captures magical moments inside the 'tube', as surfers say.

Latex Gloves

Next time you see a pair of latex gloves you're going to smile when you think of this.

A dentist noticed that his next patient, a little old lady, was very nervous, so he decided to tell her a joke as he put on his gloves.
"Do you know how they make these gloves?" he asked. "No I don't", she replied.
"Well,," he spoofed, "There's a building in Canada with a big tank of latex, and workers of all hand sizes walk up to the tank and dip in their hands, let them dry, then peel off the gloves and throw them into boxes of the right size."
She didn't crack a smile. "Oh well, I tried," he thought. But five minutes later, during a delicate part of the procedure, she burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing" she replied. "I was just envisioning how condoms are made!"

Be afraid of old ladies! Be very afraid!!!
They have been there and done everything!

Who Am I? - Yesterday's Answer

Yesterday I set a very topical 'Who Am I?' puzzle for you to solve. Did you manage to work out who our mystery person was?