Monday, April 09, 2007

The Death of Johnny Hart

You may not know who Johnny Hart is, but you almost certainly know some of his creations.

Mr Hart was the creator of the long-running comic strip "B.C.", about the adventures of a group of cavemen and the creatures around them, and he was also the co-creator (with Brant Parker) of another of my favorite comic strips, "The Wizard of Id." His creativity and boundless sense of humor managed to bring a smile to the worst of days, and in a time when too much comedy relies on vulgar shock, he consistently delivered genuinely funny, family-friendly humor without being saccharine. Many of his cartoons reflected his deep Christian faith and led to controversy with Jewish and Islamic groups, but at no time could his cartoons ever have been reasonably interpreted as insulting or disrespectful.

I enjoyed both of Mr Hart's comic strips, although my personal preference was for the Wizard of Id, which I read and enjoy every day. One of my all-time favorite strips showed a life insurance salesman being introduced to the King, who skeptically asked, "What's life insurance?" The salesman replied, "Well, your majesty, think of it as a wagering game...we bet that you will live long enough to pay us more money in premiums than you will ever get back in benefits." The king thinks a moment, then asks, "Well, what if I die young?" The salesman replies, "You win!"

Who doesn't enjoy a joke about an insurance salesman?

I'll miss Johnny Hart's marvelous sense of humor and the lift he brought to each day with the characters of his insanely twisted cartoon universe. But I have to think that he's still sitting at his drawing board somewhere, bringing a smile to the faces of his legions of fans long gone.

Good bye, Mr Hart. I'll miss you.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


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