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Paperdoll Review

Remembering Johana Gast Anderton
by Judy M Johnson

Joanne Gast Anderton 1930-2013 (AKA Johana, spelled professionally)—daughter, sister, beloved mother of two, teacher of thousands, author, publisher, artist, co-founder of OPDAG in 1984. We lost her on December 22, 2013.

Johana was born in Kansas City and had two sisters and a brother. She married Harold Anderton and had a son and a daughter (Rebekka). They sadly lost their son some years ago in a motorcycle accident. Harold passed after they moved back to the KC area after many years near Orlando. Before I met Johana, she began Athena Press to publish paper dolls by Janet Nason, Peggy Jo Rosamond, and perhaps her own art. Even earlier, she had been active in the Modern Doll Collectors clubs and annual conventions. She was the expert on 20th century dolls, and was published with at least four books by that very title.

She was my good friend for over 30 years, and many of those we shared the camaraderie of being roommates at paper doll conventions. Like kids we yakked into the night knowing we had another big day ahead. “Johana, we have GOT to get some sleep!” “What time is it?” “It’s a quarter to three!” which always led to a harmonic strain of the song ending in laughing again, and really committing to sleep. Breaking into song was one of the fun things we shared, as we knew the lyrics to hundreds of songs. Most any word or phrase could set us off.

I met Johana a paper doll party in Indiana the fall of 1981. We got to know one another the next year at a paper doll convention in Troy, Michigan, where she organized an on the spot dress-a-doll competition. At the Denver, PA, convention in 1984 a room full of folks met and formed OPDAG. It was to be a non-officer, non-juried, IN-clusive way for paper doll artists to share, showcase and learn from one another via a newsletter, and with showings of original paper doll art at conventions... also non-juried. As it worked out, the first three editors were Pat Stall, Johana Anderton, and me. I was elected to publish the newsletter as I had a typewriter and a copier. Soon Sylvia Kleindinst and Susan Hoffman came on board. In 1991, Jenny took over publication of OPDAG News/Paper Studio News, and Johana and I stayed on as editors, with other good people coming on board.

With the advent of OPDAG, she was strong on educational aspects, to teach artists technique, composition, figure drawing, layout, lettering, publishing, etc. We three contributed to all that, including legal and copyright data. Johana could always be counted on to offer her knowledge and advice, and with ideas for our publication. She was a woman of great integrity.
As strong as Johana was as an artist, she was a constant writer too. She wrote novels for adults with lower reading skills, believing it was important that they had literature that was interesting, and did not “speak down” to them. She belonged to writing guilds and did their challenges and created some of her own. She was published in anthologies of various themes. She wrote for periodicals—doll magazines mostly—and also as a researcher and reporter for a certain ailment where pain management and mind-management were important. She held up many with her patience and strength through that volunteer effort.

It was our mutual love of words and poignant, lovely phrases, and grins of malapropisms that kept us involved, too. We were a little mutual admiration society, spurring one another on in our literary and artistic endeavors. Oh, I miss her so. I think of her as perpetually aged about 45; old enough for wisdom and young enough for fun, and never too old for art and music. Many blessings to you, my friend, and may you continue your creative, loving, teaching joys on the wings of angels.

Left: Johana’s cute Dolly Dingle, created for OPDAG’s Collage themed issue in 2005.
Right: Loula Long Combs paper doll book, published in 2008 by the Kansas City Museum.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Judy Johnson is a founding member of the Original Paper Doll Artists Guild, writes for several national magazines and is a paper doll artist whose books have been published by Dover and B. Shackman. She also sells a multitude of digitally restored vintage paper dolls. For more information visit her papergoodies website.

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