- B.C. (comic strip)
Infobox comic strip
caption= B.C. Logo
url= [http://www.creators.com/comics_show.cfm?comicname=bc Creators.com: B.C.]
"B.C." is an American newspaper
comic stripcreated in 1958, written and drawn by Johnny Hartuntil his death in 2007. Set in prehistoric times, it features a group of cavemen and anthropomorphic animals from various geologic eras. It is among the longest-running strips by its original creator, appearing daily in newspapers since February 17, 1958. Hart died on April 7, 2007after suffering a stroke at his home in Nineveh, New York, [" [http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070408/ap_en_ot/obit_hart Cartoonist Hart, creator of 'B.C.,' dies] ", Yahoo News, April 8, 2007(link dead as of November 16 2007)] but the strip continues. Both Hart's daughter Perri Hart and his grandson Mason Mastroianni were involved with the strip prior to his death and have taken over the drawing and writing duties, with contributions by Mick Mastroianni. It is syndicated by Creators Syndicate.
* BC, a caveman and a humble, naive slob. On occasion BC would make nighttime rounds as his alter-ego, The Midnight Skulker.
* Peter, a philosopher, genius and the first philosophical failure, founder of the "Prehistoric Pessimists Society" and the "Column of Truth".
* Clumsy Carp, a spectacle-wearing conservationist clumsy enough to trip over a beach.
* Curls, a master of sarcastic wit.
* Thor, inventor of the wheel, the well, the rake, the comb, and many other things and a lady's man.
* Wiley, a superstitious, unshaven, woman-fearing, water-hating, one-legged poet, and manager of the local baseball team.
* Grog, a wild man with a one-word vocabulary and enough strength to knock the sun out of the sky using a golf ball; a caveman's caveman; a
teddy bearfor the macho. He basically looks like a huge, shaggy head with arms and legs attached.
* Fat Broad, a fat, bossy, and muscular cavewoman who enjoys clobbering snakes.
* Cute Chick, a beautiful, blonde cavewoman.
* The early bird and the early worm (who likes to sleep in while the early bird freezes his beak off waiting for him to emerge).
* The woodpecker, Wiley's worst enemy.
* The tortoise and the bird, inseparable friends. Their names are John and Dookie.
* Maude, an ant with a smart-alec son, and a quarrelsome husband who is always threatening to run off with Shirley.
* The Queen Ant, an unfeeling and abusive dictator. Her name is Ida.
* Various other ants, including a schoolteacher and her students.
* The anteater, i.e. aardvark (up to four of them appear at once, making their classic "Zot" sound).
* The purple-bellied dingwhopper, the last of its species.
* The dinosaur.
* The clams, talking clams with legs.
* The snake, the Fat Broad's worst enemy.
* The apteryx (
kiwi), a "wingless bird with hairy feathers" (as he introduces himself).
Hart was inspired to draw cavemen (and many other creatures) through the chance suggestion of one of his
General Electriccoworkers and took to the idea "because they are a combination of simplicity and the origin of ideas." The name for the strip was suggested by his wife, Bobby. "B.C." here refers to the calendar term " Before Christ" and is also used for the name of one of the characters.
The name of the comic is also a reference to
Broome County, NY, where Hart was born. The county actually uses the B.C. characters on places such as their transit lines and some local restaurants, and the characters were also part of two of the logos for Binghamton, NY's minor league hockey teams.
Hart describes the title character as similar to himself, playing the "patsy". The other major characters — Peter, Wiley, Clumsy Carp, the Fat Broad, the Cute Chick, Curls, Thor, and Grog — were patterned after friends, a relative, and GE co-workers." [http://www.ptm.org/JulHartofBC.htm At the Hart of B.C.] " by Monte Wolverton] The animal characters include
dinosaurs, ants and an ant-eater, clams, a snake, a turtleand birdduo, and an apteryx("a wingless bird with hairy feathers", as it constantly reminds the reader, presented in the strip as being the sole surviving specimen and hence aware of its being doomed to extinction). Dry humor, prose, shameless puns and wordplays, and devices such as "Wiley's Dictionary" (where common words are defined humorously with a twist, see Daffynition) make for some of the mix of material in "B.C." Example: "Rock - to cause something or someone to swing or sway, by hitting them with it!" - from an early 1967strip.
Peter also sometimes communicates with an unseen correspondent on the other side of the ocean, sending a message on a slab of rock that floats across the ocean and is replied to by sarcastic writing on a similar slab of rock.
Two other characters were recently added following an attempt by B.C. to raft his way around the world: Anno Domini and Conahanty, who have the appearances and speech patterns of
ethnic stereotypesof Italian-Americansand Native Americans, respectively.
Originally,the strip was very firmly set in prehistoric times, with the characters clearly living in an era untouched by modernity. Typical plotlines, for example, include B.C.'s friend Thor (inventor of the wheel and the comb) trying to discover a use for the
wheel. Thor was also seen making calendars out of stone every December. Other characters attempt to harness fire or to discover an unexplored territory, like Peter trying to find the "new world" by crossing the ocean on a raft. Animals like the dinosaur think such thoughts as, "There's one consolation to becoming extinct-I'll go down in history as the first one to go down in history." Grog arrived in early 1966, emerging from an iceberg which melted to reveal what Clumsy Carp called a Prehistoric Man. As time went on the strip began to frequently mine humor from having the characters make explicit references to modern-day current events, inventions, and celebrities which started to blur the comic's supposed prehistoric setting and make it rife with intentional anachronisms. One of the comic's early out-of-context jokes, from June 22, 1967, was this one::Peter: "I used to think sun revolved around the earth." :B.C.: "What "does" it revolve around?" :Peter: "The United States!"
Another early example: near
Christmastime, the apteryx dressed as Santa Clausand modified his usual spiel: "I'm an ApterClaus, a wingless toymonger with batteries not included!"
References to Christianity (see "Religious aspect" below), anachronistic given the strips supposed setting and the implications of its title, would become increasingly frequent during Hart's later years of working on the strip.
According to a theory—put forth most notably by
Washington Postcolumnist and comics critic Gene Weingarten—"B.C." is set not in the past but in a dystopic, post-apocalyptic future. This theory makes the anachronisms more easily understood as references to an ancient history the characters dimly comprehend.
Following a renewal of Hart's Christian faith in
1977, the strip increasingly incorporated religious, social, and political commentary and continued to do so until Hart's death in 2007. In interviews, Hart referred to his strip as a "ministry" intended to mix religious themes with "secular humor". Though other strips such as " The Family Circus" and Hart's own " The Wizard of Id"have included Christian themes, "B.C." strips were pulled from comics pages on several occasions due to editorial perception of religious favoritism or overt proselytizing. Easter strips in 1996and 2001, for example, prompted editorial reaction from a handful of U.S. newspapers, chiefly the " Los Angeles Times" and written and oral responses from Jewishand Muslimgroups. The American Jewish Committee termed the Easter 2001 strip, which depicted the last words of Jesus Christand a menorah transforming into a cross, "religiously offensive" and "shameful." ["Easter Comic Strip Creates An Uproar", Christian Century, May 2, 2001] The "Los Angeles Times" consequently relegated strips which its editorial staff deemed objectionable to the religionpages, instead of the regular comics pages. [" [http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/7r2/7r2018.html Johnny Hart: Not Caving In] ", Today's Christian, March/April 1997]
Examples of religious themes in strips
August 18 2006, illustrating Hart's frequent out-of-context humor as well as subtle incorporation of religious themes.]
April 15, 2001, which generated controversy among some Jewish groups.]
The "B.C." strip on
December 7, 2006, attracted criticism for defining "infamy" as "a word seldom used after Toyota sales topped 2 million." The day was the 65th anniversary of the Japanese military's attack on Pearl Harbor, and the punchline of the strip refers to Franklin D. Roosevelt's " Infamy Speech" which requested from Congress a declaration of waragainst Japan.
The day's strip was pulled from at least one newspaper, the "
San Antonio Express-News". The paper's managing editor, Brett Thacker, said the comic was "more than just a feeble attempt at being topical, it's a regressive and insensitive statement about one of the worst days in American history… [Hart's comic represented] an old way of thinking. The preceding generations lived through that horrible era—I can certainly appreciate their sacrifice. The world has changed, and much to our benefit. Unfortunately, some people haven't." [" [http://blogs.mysanantonio.com/weblogs/richter/archives/2006/12/bc_comic_strip.html B.C. comic strip for Dec. 7 pulled] " by Bob Richter]
The strip has been collected in various paperback books over the years, and the characters were featured in the animated
television specials"B.C.: The First Thanksgiving" (1973) and "B.C.: A Special Christmas" (1981). The latter production starred the comedians Bob and Rayas the voices of Peter and Wiley, respectively.
"B.C." was turned into two
video games for the ColecoVisionhome video game system and the Atari 800and Commodore 64home computers: "B.C.'s Quest for Tires" and "".
Clumsy Carp was present at the 75th anniversary party of the comic strip "Blondie".
The strip was also referred to in an unflattering light in an episode of
Family Guy. Stewie Griffinsays that he is going to do to his archnemesis what B.C.does to comedy on a daily basis.
Johnny Hart's Hometown
Influences from "B.C." are found throughout Johnny Hart's home of Broome County,
New York. A PGA Tourevent, The B.C. Open, took place every summer in Endicott, New Yorkthrough 2005 (the final scheduled B.C. Open in 2006 was disrupted by flooding, prompting a change of venue to the Turning Stone Resort & Casinoin central New York state.) The county parks department features a green dinosaur, and a caveman riding a wheel graces every B.C. Transit bus. In the past, Hart has also left his mark on the logos of the Broome Dustersand B.C. Icemenhockey teams.
"B.C."'s awards include:
*Best Humor Strip in America, National Cartoonist Society, 1967
*The Reuben, Cartoonist of the Year, National Cartoonist Society, 1968
*The Yellow Kid Award, International Congress of Comics, 1970
*Adamson Award, Swedish Museum of Comic Art, 1975
*The Seger Award, King Features, 1981
*Best Newspaper Comic Strip, National Cartoonist Society, 1989
* [http://www.creators.com/comics_show.cfm?comicname=bc Creators.com: B.C.] - official site from Creators Syndicate
* [http://www.reuben.org/ncs/awards.asp NCS Awards]
* [http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070408/ap_en_ot/obit_hart Cartoonist Hart, creator of B.C., dies]
* [http://www.toonopedia.com/bc.htm Toonopedia] entry on B.C.
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