(1906–1975), American writer and cartoonist. Born David Johnson Leisk in New York, Johnson studied art at the Cooper Union, drew political cartoons, and was the creator of the syndicated newspaper comic strip Barnaby (1941–1962), about a little boy and his bumbling fairy godfather Mr. O'Malley, who remained unseen by Barnaby's parents, although readers knew he was real. Johnson is now perhaps best known for Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955), the tale of a pajama-clad child who draws himself out of his room and into adventures with his purple crayon, supplying whatever he needs (a moon to see by, a path to walk on, something to eat) by drawing it. Rendered in minimalist style, Harold is close kin to Barnaby, with a magical crayon instead of a fairy godfather. Johnson published seven books featuring Harold and his crayon, as well as two collections of the comic strips, Barnaby (1943) and Barnaby and Mr. O'Malley (1944). Later works include Ellen's Lion (1959) and The Lion's Own Story (1963). Johnson was married to the children's writer and poet Ruth Krauss, three of whose books he also illustrated, and they were early mentors to Maurice Sendak, who illustrated eight of Krauss's books.
From The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature in Oxford Reference.