Johnny Hart (1931-2007)

Johnny Hart 1931-2007The very first books I can remember purchasing with my hard earned cash were Take A Bow B.C. and The Wizard’s Back. Even as a kid these books made laugh and ruminate. The ideas, jokes, and gags were at times hilarious and at other times thought provoking. The genius behind the lovable caveman characters of B.C. and the medieval capers of The Wizard of Id was Johnny Hart. On April 7, 2007 the cartoon, publishing, and entertainment industries and fans around the world mourned the loss of Johnny.

“Johnny stands out as one of the kindest, most generous, patient and all-round decent people I have ever known,” said Rick Newcombe, President and Founder of Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Born in Endicott, New York, John Lewis Hart graduated from Endicott High School in 1949. He served his military time in Korea, and during this period, he published his first drawing in Stars and Stripes. Demobilized in 1953, he began collaborations with the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s and Bluebook. Hart is best known for his comic strip B.C., about life in the stone age which started its run in newspapers on February 17, 1958.

In 1960, Hart developed a new strip idea, which he worked out together with the cartoonist Brant Parker: The Wizard of Id, a strip about a forsaken kingdom ruled by a cruel and nasty king who was flanked by his knight, Brandolph and the Wizard. It was distributed for the first time in 1964 by Publishers-Hall Syndicate. Hart eventually hired Jack Caprio and Dick Boland to assist him on his comics projects.

Johnny Hart was an author who mixes dazzling humor and hilarious originality. In 1981, Johnny Hart received the NCS’s Elzie Segar Award for his work. In the later years of his life and career, Hart was conversed to Christianity, which led to more controversial cartoons and criticism. Johnny Hart worked on his B.C. comic strip until the day he died. (Lambiek.net)

Johnny was a friend and inspiration to many. He will be missed.

In Memory Of…

Creators Syndicate with comments from fellow cartoonists
Faith-based Interview with Johnny Hart (1997)
Johnny Hart on Wikipedia

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6 thoughts on “Johnny Hart (1931-2007)

  1. Joe Galatha says:

    I also remember this book as being one of the first comics I ever had; I was born in Broome County NY (where the name B.C. ostensibly was derived from) and always enjoyed the intellectual side of Johnny’s work. I’ve just ordered a copy of “Take a Bow, B.C.” because I’ve torn two houses apart looking for my copy and can’t find it, and I need a particular cartoon:

    Peter sits looking bored at the hemispherical rock that is “Peter’s Weather Bureau” with a prehistoric bird as his weather scout eagerly awaiting his command.

    Peter says, “Take a ride on up to 10,000 feet and see if it looks like rain”.

    The bird rockets off upward into the sky and in the fourth frame is seen poking his head through the clouds, to reveal the sun shining brightly above them.

    The last frame shows Peter, frustrated and perterbed, with his chin resting in his hand, as the bird returns to land next to him – – both of them now being pelted by a driving rain that darkens the entire frame with vertical rain lines.

    The bird says, “NOPE!”

    I’m using that cartoon as a metaphor for how we each see the world from our own perspective, and despite the reality around us, that perspective somehow always allows us to see things that other people certainly (and understandably) don’t see from their different perspective.

    Thanks for this small tribute to him; he was a genius, and he is desperately missed.

  2. Joe Galatha says:

    Found it on Ebay, in good condition. Thanks for the invitation.

    Now that George Carlin and Molly Ivins are gone, losing Johnny Hart is really hitting home. Fascinating to me how genius is aligned with a good sense of humor, and a critical eye to reality. All three of them had it, and the concept seems to be a lost art in recent generations.

    Thanks again.

  3. Joe Galatha says:

    Found a copy of “Take a Bow, B.C.” is virtually the same condition as the one I can’t find….paper that had yellowed long enough to be thirty years old and slightly brittle, but all in all in a condition that looks like it had been sitting on a shelf where it was protected.

    There’s a lot in there that I still think would be prescient and appropriate for today.

  4. Steve says:

    I started buying the BC paperbacks years ago…usually came out about every other year..I have about 28 of them now. I hope I didn’t miss any of them. I still enjoy bringing one of them out to read. Some are getting pretty ragged by now, over 40 years old.

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