David Claypool Johnston was born in Philadelphia, USA in 1799. He learned engraving and etching from Francis Kearney. One of his first etchings was a parodic engraving about the militia, titled 'A Militia Muster', published in 1819. It is signed "Drawn by Busybody, Eng'd by Nobody. Published by Somebody, for Anybody & Everybody."
Johnston made a living working as an actor. In 1825 he moved to Boston to work in the theater, but eventually he became a litographer and his first litograph was published in the Boston Monthly Magazine in 1825. Soon his satirical drawing became very popular in the United States. He tackled topics such as militia, temperance, religion and politics.
Johnston published his nine-volume collection 'Scraps' from 1828, inspired by the British George Cruikshank, who had published his 'Scraps and Sketches' the year before and with whom Johnston corresponded. This collection of caricatures was hailed by the New York Transcript as follows: "We advise those who are fond of laughing and being instructed at the same time, to launch out the trifling sum of one dollar, to pay for a copy of Johnston's Scraps, in the full assurance that he will find five dollars worth of amusement and ten dollars worth of instruction."
Johnston has produced work in many disciplines, etchings, litographs and engravings. He died in 1865.