On April 7, 2007, Johnny Hart, creator of the popular comic strip “B.C.” and co-creator of the equally popular comic strip “The Wizard of Id”, died in his Nineveh, New York home — at his drawing board at age 78, according to his wife of 55 years. He had recently completed treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
A Korean War veteran, Hart’s comics were first published in “Stars and Stripes.” When he can home from the war, Hart went to work for General Electric’s art department where he created his caveman comic strip, “B.C.”. 1958 was his breakthrough year, when B.C. began appearing in national daily newspapers.
While it was hard enough creating and syndicating one popular newspaper comic strip, in 1964 Johnny Hart accomplished the near-impossible, collaborating with artist Grant Parker and creating a second popular newspaper comic strip, “The Wizard of Id.” This strip was set in medieval times.
In his later years, Johnny Hart became a religious Christian. No stranger to controversy, occasionally religious themes would appear in his strips. Some newspapers refused to print those specific strips. Others, like The Los Angeles Times, would relocate those types of strips to the religious section.
In 2001, a religious message in a “B.C.” Christmas strip created the most controversy. It showed a Jewish religious symbol, a menorah with seven candles, being transformed into a cross. Critics, including the Anti-Defamation League, accused Hart of portraying Christianity as a replacement for Judaism. Hart apologized, but stated that the controversial strip was intended as a tribute to both religions.
In 2003, another B.C. strip showed a character entering an outhouse with a traditional crescent (similar to the Islamic crescent) on the door. While inside the outhouse, the character asked, “Is it just me, or does it stink in here?” Critics, including the Council of American-Islamic Relations, accused Hart of an anti-Islamic religious slur. But Hart denied it, stating that he was just making a harmless outhouse joke.
Throughout his long career, Johnny Hart won five National Cartoonist Society awards, including the prestigious Reuben Award as Cartoonist of the Year (1968) for “B.C.” and “The Wizard of Id.”
“Johnny Hart: Not Caving In”, Joe Maxwell, Christianity Today, URL: (http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/7r2/7r2018.html)
“Johnny Hart and his Wham-Wham World”, Charles McGrath, New York Times, URL: (http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/7r2/7r2018.html)
“Creator of ‘B.C.’ and ‘Wizard of Id’ Dies at Drawing Board”, Mary Esch, Santa Monica Daily Breeze, URL: (http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/7r2/7r2018.html)