When I was in grade-school we would get these little eight page catalogues once a month of books we could order. There were novels and activity books and comics, all kinds of things. Once I ordered a book called Just a Dog that was so overwhelmingly depressing it became the very first book I ever failed to finish. I simply couldn’t put myself through it.
More commonly I would order the Mad Libs or the comics. The comics came in paperback novel size and I developed quite a collection. I enjoyed Peanuts and once got a Dennis the Menace on my Granddad’s recommendation, but my favorite was always BC. It was about wordplay and irony and came with a dry, sardonic wit that almost always got me laughing. The characters were spot-on and the commentary was clean. I kept and reread them over and over for years.
Last Saturday, April 7, Johnny Hart died of a stroke while working at his drafting table. He was 76 years old.
When I think about this I have to smile a bit. Here was a man who found the thing he loved in his life, found his passion. He created a career for himself there, had a family who loved him deeply, and died doing the thing he most wanted to do. Making comics. To me, this is a most amazing success story.
Apparently, there is quite an archive of backup work for both BC, and Hart’s other comic, The Wizard of Id. New comics will continue for quite some time. (There’s something to shoot for!)
I’m taking this space this week to say thank you to a man who was both entertainer and inspiration to me. Thanks Johnny. Hat’s off to you.