Cartoon Group President, Others React to Johnny Hart’s Death

By: Dave Astor

The weekend death of “B.C.”/”The Wizard of Id” creator Johnny Hart drew wide reaction across the cartooning, syndicate, and newspaper spectrum.

“He was well-loved by the National Cartoonists Society and its members and will be sorely missed,” NCS President Rick Stromoski told E&P this morning. Stromoski, who does “Soup to Nutz” for United Media, added that Hart’s comics “influenced a generation of cartoonists, and he’ll always be remembered as one of the greats.”

Hart — a past winner of the NCS Reuben Award as cartoonist of the year — died Saturday at his Endicott, N.Y., home from a stroke. He was 76.

Creators Syndicate Founder/President Rick Newcombe said Hart was one of the first people to move his feature to the 1987-launched CS and thus helped make the company a success. (Among the others switching to Creators back then were columnist Ann Landers and editorial cartoonist Herblock.)

Newcombe added that Hart — whose two comics each run in more than 1,200 newspapers — was a talented, hard-working cartoonist who was also kind and generous.

The Binghamton, N.Y., Press & Sun-Bulletin seconded that in an editorial today, noting that “it’s difficult to find a Broome County charity event whose logo wasn’t touched by Hart.” Perhaps the most famous event Hart was involved with was the annual “B.C. Open” golf tournament, where Hart would often do autographed sketches for spectators.

Hart’s work was not without controversy. After becoming a born-again Christian, he periodically did religious-themed “B.C.” comics — one of which (showing a menorah morphing into a cross) many Jews found offensive. The cartoonist also created two “B.C.” strips seen as anti-Islam. In all three cases, Hart denied trying to criticize non-Christian religions.

“B.C.” was launched in 1958. “The Wizard of Id,” which Hart did with Brant Parker, began in 1964.

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