Johnny Hart, creator of the syndicated comic strip B.C. and co-creator Wizard of Id, has passed away as the age of 76. According to the Associated Press, he suffered a stroke at home in New York on Saturday and died at his drawing table as he worked on a cartoon. In addition to crafting B.C. for more than 1,300 newspapers worldwide, Hart saw his creation animated for the holiday specials B.C.: The first Thanksgiving (1973) and B.C.: A Special Christmas (1981).
After high school, Hart met a young cartoonist named Brant Parker and the two would eventually collaborate on the long-running Wizard of Id comic strip. Hart’s first published work, however, appeared in the military publication Stars and Stripes while he served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea. After returning from service, he sold cartoons to The Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s Weekly, among others.
Hart launched B.C. in 1958, introducing funny pages readers to a humorous prehistoric world populated by cavemen and dinosaurs. The popular strip eventually found an audience of around 100 million, according to distributor Creators Syndicate Inc.
Hart’s later work reflected his evangelical religious awakening, which turned off a number of readers and newspapers. The Easter 2001 installment of B.C. featured an image of a Jewish menorah turning into a Christian cross and included biblical quotes of Jesus’ last words. A number Jewish groups found the strip offensive and convinced some publications to drop the strip, but Hart insisted that it was intended to increase awareness of both religions.
Hart was a native of Endicott, a city roughly 135 miles northwest of New York
City. He is survived by his wife, Bobby, and his daughters, Patti and Perri. Funeral plans have not been announced.