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Doug grew up in a small town in Utah. Among his earliest influences were three great writer-illustrators. They were Milton Caniff, Harold R. Foster, and Burne Hogarth. All were talented storytellers who used both words and pictures to spin tales of romance and great adventure in faraway places. They, as well as the characters they created, were his heroes.

In junior high school, he began writing and drawing little comic strips of his own which were eagerly passed around the room for the other students to read while the teacher was lecturing. Strangely, none of this clandestine activity was ever discovered. Unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately—none of these early creations has survived. During his high school years he began illustrating stories in comic strip style for a children's magazine.

After college, where he majored in art, he received a commission in the Air Force where he served as an Information Services Officer while on active duty, and later, in the reserves. He was assigned to a base that rebuilt jet fighters, and a highlight of that time was cooking up news stories for local TV stations of test flights which he filmed from the back seat of a T-33. He liked that a lot because, at the time, he owned half of a little 2-place Taylorcraft and the pilots, accepting him as at least a fringe member of the fraternity,  always let him fly the jet back to the base when they were done. But, he says, they never let him do the landing.

Following that, he worked for a couple of years as an illustrator before getting into the movie business as a production designer at a small studio. An early picture he worked on was Johnny Lingo, a short film which has since become a classic. Later, he began producing, directing, and often writing many short films that together collected more than a wall-full of film festival awards and other honors. Among them are the short films The Gift, John Baker’s Last Race, The Phone Call, and The Emmett Smith Story, which have become classics themselves.

He spent most of the latter part of his career as a producer and director and production designer for motion pictures and television. He says he liked working in the picture business because you get to crash cars and blow up all sorts of things—and you don’t have to go to jail!

To avoid retiring, he writes mystery fiction. Many of his stories have appeared in ALFRED HITCHCOCK MYSTERY MAGAZINE.

This Grand Prize award was given for his short film The Gift by The Childfilm Festival of the Canadian Association for Young Children. He was told the festival ordinarily awarded winners in separate categories, but because this film was so well received, the judges created a Grand Prize just for it. Since the festival planners hadn’t prepared an award for this eventuality, someone was dispatched to a gallery to purchase something appropriate. Whoever was sent had marvelous taste and came back with this lovely piece cast in bronze. The sculptor’s name, if deciphered correctly from the engravings on the base, is P. Newligging.

It originally had one more figure, but it is now gone, lost somewhere in what must have been rather rough transit in at least two garbage cans before the piece came to him. The place where it was broken off can still be seen. He saw it only once as it sat on someone else’s desk, and at that time, wasn’t told of its significance. Consequently, he has no clear memory of what the lost figure depicted, but from the position of the break and the space available, he suspects it was a small dog. If it was, it would have been perfect. It’s still a lovely piece.

The image in the header…

is a painting I made years ago. I drove past this field with its crumbling old barn every morning when I went to work. It was always a calming influence on days that weren’t so calming.

 Unfortunately the structure, and the open field, no longer exist.

Click on the titles below
to see the entire film. It’s free.

The Gift
John Baker’s Last Race
The Phone Call
The Emmett Smith Story

A few fictional characters I’ve enjoyed reading about.

Matthew Scudder
Harry Bosch
Mickey Haller
Cletus Howell Frade
V. I. Warshawski
Sherlock Holmes
Kinsey Millhone
Jim Chee
Joe Leaphorn
Thomas Pitt
Charlotte Pitt
William Monk


Prince Valiant
Terry Lee
Pat Ryan
Steve Canyon
Mary Perkins
Rip Kirby

Where I spend my days. And sometimes, nights.

Doug, taken at the age when  he was deciding whether to be an illustrator, a filmmaker or a writer.

© 2021 Douglas Grant Johnson