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Monday, April 09, 2007

ZOT!

Johnny Hart, the creator of B.C. and cocreator of THE WIZARD OF ID, died at his drawing board on April 7, 2007.

Hart was one of the funniest cartoonists in the country. He was also absolutely original. Nothing quite like B.C. had ever come down the pike before. Hart based his sardonic cavemen on his friends. It was a pleasure to recognize him as "B.C." when I finally met him at the Reuben Awards. He looked like he'd drawn himself.

The strip was always one of my favorites. "CLAMS GOT LEGS!" "Beware of the Trund", the piano that one played by blowing through a hole in the back, Thor's crazy inventions such as a stone kite, and the hilarious "Dip in Road" will always bring fond memories. And there's also that snake wearing shoes, one on its head, one on its tail.

I didn't even mind that one of his characters was named "The Fat Broad". She WAS.
A very funny Thanksgiving special was animated some years ago. Sadly, we lost the bid to animate the B.C. characters in our animation company. I'd have been delighted to do so.

Johnny Hart was a generous man who donated his time and artwork to many local projects in his hometown of Endicott, New York. He also found time for a while to publish THE FLAMING COCKROACH CLUB, a newsletter just for cartoonists featuring the Fat Broad about to whack a defenseless bug with a flaming club. Hart claimed he originally wanted to open a restaurant with that name; when he was informed that it would be a catastrophe, he made a newsletter instead. If you ever wondered why so many comics, once upon a time, used to feature the same storylines or items (such as a piggy bank) on the same day--well, that was the Club in action.

Hart put his religious convictions in some of the later B.C. strips, which led to some controversies. He was in top form at the end though.
And going at the drawing board is the way all of us would like to go.

Here is a link to a fine article about Mr. Hart at the New York TIMES.

"Do your frogs croak at night?" "No, some of them pass away right here in the sun."
Bye, Johnny. Thanks for the laughs.

2 comments:

Brett said...

At least he died doing what he did best... drawing cartoons! Can't imagine a better way to go.

Nancy said...

I can imagine other ways to go that can't be mentioned in polite company, but it's true that most artists want to go this way. Al Hirschfeld and Joe Grant (Disney story man) also died at their drawing boards. Probably the only time they missed an art deadline. Then again, maybe they made it after all.