By: Dave Astor
“B.C.” and “The Wizard of Id” will continue despite Johnny Hart’s death, stirring more debate about “legacy” comics that make it harder for newer strips to get published.
When E&P asked Creators Syndicate today about the future of Hart’s two comics, Vice President/Editorial Director Kathy Kei said the late cartoonist “had always intended for the strips to survive with the participation of his family. They have been involved for years. ‘B.C.’ will be continued by the Hart family — Johnny’s daughters and grandsons — and ‘The Wizard of Id’ will go on as usual with the participation of Jeff Parker, Brant Parker’s son, and Hart’s family.”
Hart, who died Saturday from a stroke at the age of 76, did “The Wizard of Id” with Brant Parker since that comic’s debut in 1964. “B.C.” began in 1958. Each strip appears in more than 1,200 newspapers.
Kei added: “I think many people would say, and we think Johnny would agree, that after a creator has passed away, memorable cartoon characters take on a life of their own — like Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, like Charles Schulz’s Snoopy, and like Johnny’s characters. This is why we intend to keep the Johnny Hart byline.”
A number of other industry observers disagree. For instance, ComicsCurmudgeon.com blogger Joshua Fruhlinger stated today: “Say what you will for good or for ill about Hart?s work, but it has always struck me (despite … help from family members) as being indisputably HIS WORK. The best way to honor that would be for it to stand on its own, not to be continued by assistants cutting and pasting new dialogue into scans of old strips.”
He added: “Because of the way comics publishing works, there will be a few weeks worth of Hart-authored strips still to run, but after that it should bow gracefully out. It may be hard to believe for younger folks, but Hart was one of a generation of young turks who shook up the comics page in the 1970s, and letting his strip continue in other hands denies that chance to others and diminishes what went before.”
And person posting a comment on the DailyCartoonist.com blog said: “I hope they do not continue the strip. Let it rest in peace, as I hope Mr. Hart will.”
But in a tribute to Hart posted today on his syndicate’s Web site, Creators President Rick Newcombe said: “After Charles Schulz died in 2000, Johnny told me that he wanted ‘B.C.’ and ‘The Wizard of Id’ to continue after his death, and he spoke on that occasion, and subsequently, about how proud he was of his two daughters and two grandsons, all of whom have been involved with both comic strips over the years. I see in them his wit and remarkable sense of humor, as well as his genius for simple but beautiful artwork.”