Much much remembrance to mark the passing of cartoonist Johnny Hart. The syndicate has already announced that his two strips — B.C. and The Wizard of ID — will continue. Family members had already been assisting him for years.
Endicott native Johnny Hart was 76 when he died over weekend. Family members say he was battling lymphoma since November but was in remission.
“He was feeling great. He had breakfast Saturday morning, told my mom I’m going to the studio to work and went over and was sitting at his drawing desk and that’s where she found him, it was like he had just fallen asleep there,” said his daughter Patti Hart.
Meanwhile, 84 year old Bil Keane, of the Family Circus, has his own memories.
“He had a very simple style and I always admired him because he could do more with just a rock. He could make it into anything,” he said.
In fact, after Peanuts creator Charles Schulz died in 2000, Keane was asked who his favorite cartoonist was. “I would always say Johnny Hart because of the simplicity and what he could do with just a few lines. Yeah, it was so simple, which is really a gift. Schulz had the same gift, but it was in a different way,” Keane said.
Hart used a lot of puns in his cartoons and was able to get away with some borderline gags because his characters were so outlandish, Keane said. “Like calling the one lady Fat Broad, which in any of the old-time cartoons you would never ever be able to get away with that,” he said.
Charles McGrath offers analysis in the New York Times:
Like the comic strip artists a few years ahead of him — Mort Walker, Mel Lazarus, Charles M. Schulz — he grew up listening to radio comedians and watching the movies of Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. He loved slapstick, pratfalls, one-liners.
Like those other artists, Mr. Hart received what now looks like a classic American art education, the kind of apprenticeship that enabled a golden age of cartooning: he pored over strips like “Dick Tracy” and “Smokey Stover” as a child; studied a little commercial art as a teenager; did some time in the military, where he drew cartoons for Stars and Stripes; and then peddled single-panel cartoons to Colliers and The Saturday Evening Post before finally catching on with a newspaper syndicate. By the time he created “B.C.” in 1958, influenced partly by Mr. Schulz, he had pared his style to one of eloquent simplicity.