By: Dave Astor
Creators Syndicate has announced the “B.C.” schedule for the next couple of months following the April 7 death of the comic’s creator, Johnny Hart.
Daily strips already done by Hart will run through April 28, and Sundays through May 20.
In tribute to Hart, his family will select six weeks of their favorite “B.C.” strips to run daily between April 30 and June 9, and Sunday between May 27 and July 1.
After that, “B.C.” will resume its regular schedule. As previously reported, Hart’s children and grandchildren will continue the comic.
“The Wizard of Id,” which Hart did with Brant Parker, will go on without interruption. Hart’s family is also involved with that comic, which began in 1964. “B.C.” was launched in 1958.
Hart, who died of a stroke at the age of 76, was one of the few cartoonists in syndication history to have two comics with more than 1,000 newspapers apiece. Others who accomplished that include Jerry Scott (“Zits” and “Baby Blues”), Mort Walker (“Beetle Bailey” and “Hi and Lois”), and the late Dik Browne (“Hi and Lois” and “Hagar the Horrible”).
During his later years, Hart became a born-again Christian who occasionally put religious references in “B.C.” Some strips were seen as insulting to Judaism and Islam, though Hart denied it. In a WashingtonPost.com chat this week, Washington Post Writers Group columnist Gene Weingarten said: “Hart was one of the greatest cartoonists who ever lived. … Hart was a genius. Then he got weird and scared, and it made him selfish and intolerant and preachy. I hope he’s in heaven, because it was REALLY important to him to get there… .”
In another Hart-related development, The Comics Reporter blogger Tom Spurgeon yesterday wrote a commentary (http://www.comicsreporter.com) about “legacy” strips (such as “B.C.”) that continue after the creator’s death.
Among Spurgeon’s remarks: “I’m one of those against legacy strips on the whole. I realize that some of them are very good, I’m fully aware that many of them are done because the creator wished for their feature to continue, and I know that in the end a significant audience would prefer to have an old favorite slightly if at all diminished than learn to enjoy a brand new offering.”
But he added: “There’s no way to keep any piece of art running past the death of its creators without a loss of vitality somewhere along the way.”