I meant to blog about this on Monday and got sidetracked. Cartoonist Johnny Hart, the creator of the hit cartoon B.C. and the Wizard of Id, died over the weekend.
Mr. Hart never seemed to have any problem introducing his Christian faith into his cartoons, something very much lacking in today’s entertainment industry. Christians have been practically forced to abandon their shows of faith in the public square.
The lost of Mr. Hart is a great loss to the Christian community.
ALBANY, N.Y. — For millions of comic strip readers, the prehistoric era was a hoot: Cavemen played baseball, ants went to school, birds rode on the back of turtles and snakes made quips.
All of it was thanks to cartoonist Johnny Hart, who died Saturday at age 76 while working at his home in the nearby hamlet of Nineveh. “He had a stroke,” his wife, Bobby, said Sunday. “He died at his storyboard.”
Hart’s “B.C.” strip was launched in 1958 and eventually appeared in more than 1,300 newspapers with an audience of 100 million, according to Creators Syndicate Inc., which distributes it.
“He was generally regarded as one of the best cartoonists we’ve ever had,” Hart’s friend Mel Lazarus, creator of the “Momma” and “Miss Peach” comic strips, said from his California home. “He was totally original. ‘B.C’ broke ground and led the way for a number of imitators, none of which ever came close.”
Hart, who also co-created “The Wizard of Id,” won numerous awards for his work, including the National Cartoonist Society’s prestigious Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year and an award from the International Congress of Comics.
Richard Newcombe, founder and president of Creators Syndicate said “B.C.” and “Wizard of Id” would continue. Family members have been helping produce the strips for years, and they have an extensive computer archive of Hart’s drawings to work with, he said.
Later in his career, some of Hart’s cartoons had religious themes, a reflection of his own Christian faith. That sometimes led to controversy.
A strip published on Easter in 2001 drew protests from Jewish groups and led several newspapers to drop the strip. The cartoon depicted a menorah transforming into a cross, with accompanying text quoting some of Jesus Christ’s dying words. Critics said it implied that Christianity supersedes Judaism.
Hart said he intended the strip as a tribute to both faiths. “He had such an emphasis on kindness, generosity, and patience,” Newcombe said.
“B.C.” was filled with puns and sly digs at modern society. One recent strip showed an ant teacher asking her class, “Who can tell me what secondhand smoke is?” One pupil raised his hand with an answer: “A political speech made by a vice presidential candidate.”