Johnny Hart

Johnny Hart

Infobox Comics creator
name = Johnny Hart

imagesize =
caption =
birthname = John Lewis Hart
birthdate = birth date|1931|2|18|mf=y
location = Endicott, New York
deathdate = death date and age|2007|4|7|1931|2|18
deathplace = Nineveh, New York
nationality = American
area = artist, writer
alias =
notable works = "B.C." "The Wizard of Id"
awards = full list

Johnny Hart (February 18 1931 – April 7 2007) was an American cartoonist noted as the creator of the comic strip "B.C." and co-creator of the strip "The Wizard of Id". Hart was recognized with several awards, including five from the National Cartoonists Society, and the Swedish Adamson Award. In his later years, he sparked controversy by incorporating overtly Christian themes and messages into the strips.cite web|last= Bernstein|first= Adam |title= Obituary: Johnny Hart|publisher = The Washington Post |url=]


Hart's first published work was shown in "Stars and Stripes" while he served in Korea as an enlisted member of the United States Air Force, and after returning in 1953 he published work in magazines such as "The Saturday Evening Post" and "Collier's Weekly". Hart's biggest success, "B.C.", was created in 1957 and began national daily newspapers appearances on February 17 1958.cite web|last=Lambiek Comiclopedia|title=Johnny Hart|url= ] Hart also co-created and wrote the comic strip "The Wizard of Id", drawn by Brant Parker, which has been distributed since November 9 1964.

wikinews|Johnny Hart of "B.C." fame passes awayHart died of a stroke on April 7 2007. According to his wife, he was working at his drawing table at the time of his death.cite web|title = Johnny Hart Dies at 76|url =
publisher = The New York Times
] [ BC cartoonist dies while drawing] , BBC News] Brant Parker died just eight days later, on April 15 2007.

Religious convictions

Though Hart was raised in a casually religious family; he attended Christian Sunday School regularly. Although his formal education ended with high school, he was fascinated by the Bible from a young age.cite web
title =At the Hart of B.C.
url =
publisher =Plain Truth Ministries
] In 1977 there was a distinguishable shift in Hart's spirituality, and Hart and wife Bobby began attending a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Nineveh, New York. Hart attributed his religious awakening to a father-son team of contractors who installed a satellite dish. Hart's increasingly deep religious faith, and the staunch political conservatism that accompanied it, came to be the source of considerable controversy in the later years of his life. In a 1999 interview with "The Washington Post", for example, he stated that "Jews and Muslims who don't accept Jesus will burn in Hell" and that "homosexuality is the handiwork of Satan."cite web
title=Johnny Hart, 76; created 'B.C.' comic strip|publisher = Los Angeles Times
date=April 9 2007
] In the same piece, Hart opined that "the end of the world is approaching, maybe by the year 2010."The lion's share of controversy, however, came from Hart's increasing tendency to incorporate his religious and political themes and ideals into his comic strips, especially "B.C." Some newspapers refused to print strips with overtly religious themes or, as with the "Los Angeles Times", relegated them to the religious section of the newspaper.cite web
title=Easter Comic Strip Creates an Uproar
last=Christian Century

Controversial strips

Two strips in particular were controversial. The "B.C." strip for April 15 2001, which was Easter, portrayed a menorah with seven candles progressively burning out as the strip captions ran the words of Jesus Christ. At the end, the outer arms of the candelabra broke away, leaving a Christian cross, with the final panel portraying the opened and empty tomb of Christ.cite news |url= |title=Cartoon Raises a Stink: Some See Slur Against Islam in a 'B.C.' Outhouse Strip |author=Gene Weingarten |publisher=The Washington Post|date=November 21, 2003|accessdate=2007-04-09] Critics including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee argued that Hart's strip portrayed replacement theology, that is, the conception of Christianity as supplanting Judaism. Hart offered an apology "if I have offended any readers," but still thought the strip could increase "religious awareness" and claimed that he had meant the strip to be a tribute to both religions.cite web|title='B.C.' cartoonist Johnny Hart dies at 76|last=USA Today|url=] cite web|title='B.C.' cartoonist Johnny Hart dies||url=]

Another "B.C." strip, which ran November 10 2003, showed an outhouse with a traditional crescent, which a character entered with a vertical graphic "SLAM", only to ask, "Is it just me, or does it stink in here?" Critics including the Council on American-Islamic Relations claimed that the combination of the vertical bar and the "SLAM", as well as the crescent moons both in the sky and on the outhouse, made the strip a slur on Islam. Hart denied that it was anything but an outhouse joke.

Personal life

Hart was an active member of his local community - the area of Greater Binghamton in Broome County, New York, which shares a common abbreviation of 'B.C.' Hart donated B.C.-based drawings and logos free of charge to many entities and organizations found in the Broome County area, including logos for:
* B.C. Transit - Caveman on Wheel
* Broome County Parks - Dinosaur
* Broome County Meals on Wheels - Caveman on Wheel with Food
* [ Southern Tier Red Cross] - Caveman building Red Cross with Bricks
* Broome County Celtic Kazoos - Irish Caveman with Kazoo
* B.C. Open PGA Tour Event (1971 - 2006) - Caveman golfing
* Broome Dusters NAHL Hockey Club - Caveman with hockey stick
* B.C. Icemen UHL Hockey Club - Brute Cavemen playing hockey
* Southern Tier Independence Center - Caveman in stone wheelchair stuck in cave doorway, "Wiley" character navigating a landscape full of holes Hart's involvement with the B.C. Open dates back to the early 1970s, and characters from "B.C." are used extensively in advertising and marketing materials for the event, including the winner's trophy which is a bronzed version of a hapless "B.C." Caveman golfing, a light-hearted trophy when compared to many others, leading it to earn the designation of being "voted by the players on Tour as the best trophy on Tour; the one that they would love to have." [cite news
title=B.C. Loses Hart
author=George Basler
publisher=Press & Sun-Bulletin
date=April 9 2007

Additionally, Hart contributed original panels of "B.C." strips for charity auctions with the Binghamton, New York-based PBS affiliate, WSKG-TV. He also provided album cover art for the 1999 album "Still Fresh" by a capella group The Four Freshmen, and his strips for B.C. were the inspiration for the mascot of UC Irvine, the anteater. [cite news
title=UC Irvine, Peter the Anteater
publisher=UC Irvine

Continuing work

Prior to his death, Hart had built up a significant computer archive of drawings for "B.C.", and family members have been assisting with drawing the strips for several years. New "B.C." strips with his daughters and grandsons have begun. [cite news
title=Johnny Hart, 'B.C.' creator, dies at 76
author=Mary Esch
publisher=Associated Press
date=April 9 2007



thumb|300px|A_May 14, 2007 "Mother Goose & Grimm" cartoon paying tribute to Hart.]

Hart was memorialized in a May 14, 2007 strip of the comic strip "Mother Goose & Grimm". In the June 20, 2007 "Blondie" strip, the last panel shows Mr. Dithers saying, "Boy oh boy, that Johnny Hart sure knew his stuff, didn't he?" Bruce Tinsley honored Hart in his "Mallard Fillmore" strip of July 10th, 2007.


*1967: National Cartoonist Society Newspaper Comic Strip (Humor) Award for "B.C."
*1968: Reuben Award Cartoonist of the Year, for "B.C." and "The Wizard of Id"cite web
last=NCS awards
title=The Reuben

*1973: National Cartoonists Society, Animation Award
*1976: Adamson Award, Sweden
*1981: National Cartoonists Society, Elzie Segar Award
*1989: National Cartoonists Society, Newspaper Comic Strip Award for "B.C."


External links

* [ Johnny Hart biography] on Lambiek Comiclopedia
* [ Creators Syndicate: "B.C."]
* [ Creators Syndicate: "The Wizard of Id"]
* [ Johnny Hart tribute art and quotations] Creators Syndicate
* [ "Johnny Hart: Not Caving In"] - profile in "Christianity Today", March/April 1997

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