Johnny Hart, the creative mind behind the syndicated cartoons “B.C.” and “The Wizard of Id” has died of a stroke at the age of 76. Bobby, his wife of some 50 years, said he was found dead at the studio drawing board where he worked every day.
“He was generally regarded as one of the best cartoonists we’ve ever had,” Hart’s friend Mell Lazarus, creator of the “Momma” and “Miss Peach” comic strips, said from his California home. “He was totally original. ‘B.C’ broke ground and led the way for a number of imitators, none of which ever came close.” — Washington Post, April 9, 2007
Hart was a serious Christian, a member and Sunday school teacher at the Nineveh Presbyterian Church in Endicott, NY. He sometimes got into trouble for using his strip to talk about his Christian faith, but he felt his fame had given him an opportunity to witness, when appropriate, and he did so. You could usually count on B.C. to include some sort of Christian theme on Easter and Christmas.
Hart and his wife enjoyed the fruits of his fame, but his success didn’t bring them happiness. In his middle years, Hart began re-evaluating his life and took another look at the Christian faith of his youth. That ultimately led both husband and wife to recommit themselves to Christ. Christianity Today has a good profile of the Harts from a 1997 interview.
I find it interesting that Johnny Hart only had a high school education. It confirms my own belief that hard work and developing your passion is the key to finding your place in the world. Hart had talent, but he paid his dues by rising early in the morning every day, cloistering himself in his studio and drawing comic strips. It was his work ethic that brought him success, not his raw talent.
He made me laugh. Thanks, Johnny.