In the mid-1980s, John was working on Hallmark’s newly launched Shoebox card line when he got the idea for a character who was a composite of his mother, aunts
and grandmother. The character appeared on a couple of cards and was known in-house as “John Wagner’s Old Lady.”
The cards quickly grew in popularity. And because the name “John Wagner’s Old Lady” didn’t exactly roll off the tongue, Shoebox soon decided to have a little naming contest. Artists, writers and a few other Hallmarkers were asked to submit a name that fit the character. “Maxine” showed up over and over, and since there was no real evidence of anyone having stuffed the ballot box, it was declared the winner.