Day 66: Thursday, April 21: Story of Maxine

Happy Thursday. I know this is supposed to be a painting blog and I did spend all morning at the Arlington Garden painting with a group of friends....I guess I should have uploaded my attempts at greatness but the "history of Maxine" was much more entertaining.  Turns out that the "inventor of Maxine" is a man who works/worked at Hallmark.  Enjoy. And Happy Easter or Happy Holiday.  Talk to you again tomorrow, Friday.

 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

John remembers doodling as a preschooler 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 professional 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 humanize them,' John says.
   'If Maxine can get a laugh out of someone who feels lonely or 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 someone's face is what it's all about.'

Those smiles have led to Maxine's 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 majorAssociated 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.

Now you know the story of how Maxine came to be. 

I haven't seen these before. Good ones.


  1. Boy...I tell you...Maxine hits the nail on the head every time!! Thanks for sharing her story!!!

  2. To quote John: Putting a smile on someone's face is what it's all about! Thanks for making me smile!