By: Dave Astor
Did “B.C.” cartoonist Johnny Hart take another swipe at Islam in his July 3 comic?
Hart and Creators Syndicate say no. Only two of Hart’s 1,200 newspaper clients asked for substitute strips. But readers and several blogs — including ComicsReporter.com and DailyCartoonist.com — are wondering.
In the comic, Hart shows his turtle character asking: “What makes a bite that’s shaped like a crescent moon?” The bird standing on the turtle’s shell answers: “A lunatic.” A star is drawn near the turtle’s “finger” to illustrate the location of the bite.
A star/crescent moon is a symbol of Islam. There’s also the possibility that Hart was making a “luna tick” pun instead of, or in addition to, making a negative reference to Islam.
Creators Senior Editor Kathy Kei, who approved the gag, told E&P: “Although I thought many of the comments on the message boards were thoughtful, frankly, I’m surprised the strip is creating so much speculation. The gag is a straightforward play on words, intended just as it appears: ‘lunatic’ meaning a tick that makes a bite like a crescent-shaped moon.”
And Kei said Hart issued this statement about the comic: “It absolutely has no reference to Islam at all. It would be contradictory to my own faith as a Christian to insult other people’s beliefs.”
But other observers think there might have been a swipe at Islam. For instance, a person on The Comics Journal message board wrote: “(T)he more overt his slurs get the more I can’t help but wonder when he’s going to drop his usual defense: ‘Is THAT what people thought it meant? I had NO IDEA. I HATE bigoted humor. Honest.'”
Readers previously wondered if Hart defamed Islam in his “B.C.” strip of Nov. 10, 2003. In that comic, Hart showed a character walking to an outhouse, closing the door with a huge “SLAM” (inked vertically between the first and second panels), and saying: “Is it just me, or does it stink in here?” A crescent moon appeared in the sky and on the outhouse door in all three panels. Some observers said the huge “SLAM” in the strip was stacked in the shape of an “I” — the first letter in Islam. Hart and Creators denied back then that the 2003 comic defamed Islam.