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Monday, 9 April 2007

Johnny "BC" Hart Dies

BC


76-year-old Johnny Hart, award-winning creator of the popular B.C. comic series and co-creator of The Wizard of Id with Brant Parker, died this weekend. He apparently suffered a stroke while working at his drawing table at home in Nineveh, Broome County New York, according to his wife.

A funeral will be held Friday.

Hart won several awards for his work , including a public service award from NASA in 1972 for outstanding contributions.

Married for 55 years, the cartoonist had recently battled lymphoma but it was in remission, according to family and friends.

"He was a free spirit who loved everybody, and everything," said Jack Caprio, a childhood friend, collaborator and model for "Clumsy Carp" in the B.C. strip, according to news reports. "He was never embarrassed by doing silly things."

Hart's very occasionally controversial B.C. created in 1957 featuring prehistoric cavemen and dinosaurs has appeared in some 1,300 newspapers worldwide, and made its first national US appearance on 17 February 1958, after being rejected by no less than five syndicates before being accepted for newspaper syndication.

B.C. -- also an also an acronym for Hart's home of Broome County, New York -- is filled with puns and sly digs at modern society. One recent strip showed an ant teacher asking her class, "Who can tell me what secondhand smoke is?" One pupil raised his hand with an answer: "A political speech made by a vice presidential candidate."

B.C. character Thor, credited with inventing the wheel, enjoys life beyond the strip gracing Broome County Transit vehicles as part of their logo, "We Go Where You Go". The local library has also used B.C. imagery to promote its services, all donated freely by Hart, who according to many reports on his death, was an active and generous member of his local community, also designing a much sought afer local gold trophy and more during his long career as an artist.

BC


The Wizard of Id, drawn by Brant Parker, has been distributed since 9 November 1964 and for me is the more memorable strip, partly because it's one I grew up reading in British newspapers. But the sense of humour in both strips is bound up in the work of Hart, aided more recently by family members who have been helping produce the strips for years.

With the help of an extensive computer archive of Hart's drawings, it's some consolation to learn that both strips are to continue.

"As far back as I can remember, I drew funny pictures which got me in or out of trouble depending on the circumstances," the successful comic strip creator recalled for his online Creators Syndicate bio. "The comic strip field is an exciting one. It principally is made up of people who have refused to grow up and who offer marvelous fantasies to those who wish they hadn't."

My sympathies to friends and family. He was evidently a generous soul who in addition to bringing laughter to millions, clearly brought a warmth of spirit to his local community - an inspiration, surely, to us all.

He will be missed.

Johnny Hart, born 18 February 1931, Endicott, Broome County, New York. Died 7 April 2007, Nineveh, Broome County, New York. He is survived by his wife, Bobby and two daughters, Patti and Perri.

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