David Johnson Leisk, better known as Crockett Johnson, grew up and studied art and typography in New York. After doing advertising work and freelance magazine art, he drew a weekly comic strip for Collier's Agency in the early 1940s. It was untitled, but usually called 'The Little Man with the Eyes'. In 1942 he created 'Barnaby' for the experimental newspaper PM. This whimsical, fairy-tale strip soon became one of the classics, distributed by Field Newspaper Syndicate and Bell Publishing.
The strip was the first to feature machine-lettered word-balloons. Pursuing other interests, he left the strip to Jack Morley and writer Ted Ferro in January 1946, while still serving as a story consultant. He returned as the strip's writer in the following year and continued it with Morley until 1952. In 1960-62, it was briefly revived in Comics Revue, presumably (re)drawn by Warren Sattler. Johnson produced the comic strip 'Barkis & Family' in 1955.
Johnson was also a writer and illustrator of children's books. He worked with Constance Foster on 'This Rich World: The Story of Money' (1943) and he made illustrators for four children's book by his wife Ruth Kraus, namely 'The Carrot Seed', 'How to Make an Earthquake', 'Is This You?' and 'The Happy Egg'. He is the author of such popular books as 'Harold and the Purple Crayon', 'Harold's Fairy Tale', and ; A Picture for Harold's Room', that have been adapted for animation by Gene Deitch.