Johnny Hart, creator of “B.C.� and “Wizard of Id,� dies at 76

[Associated Press] Cartoonist Johnny Hart, whose award-winning “B.C.� comic strip appeared in more than 1,300 newspapers worldwide, died at his home on Saturday. He was 76.

“He had a stroke,� Hart’s wife, Bobby, said on Sunday. “He died at his storyboard.�

“B.C.,� populated by prehistoric cavemen and dinosaurs, was launched in 1958 and eventually appeared in more than 1,300 newspapers with an audience of 100 million, according to Creators Syndicate, Inc., which distributes it.

After he graduated from Union-Endicott High School, Hart met Brant Parker, a young cartoonist who became a prime influence and co-creator with Hart of the “Wizard of Id� comic strip.

Hart’s work several decades ago was brilliant. Over the past several decades, though, he was more known for heavy-handed religious evangelism. Still, the passing of a legend is sad.

As long as we’re talking about death, howabout another nail in the coffin of syndicated comic strips? They’re already planning on running both Hart strips past his death.

[MSNBC]: Richard Newcombe, founder and president of Creators Syndicate said “B.C.� and “Wizard of Id� would continue. Family members have been helping produce the strips for years, and they have an extensive computer archive of Hart’s drawings to work with, he said.

This is simply one more step to the obvious outcome: One day every last newspaper comic will be done by dead people.

Something to think about the next time a syndicate editor or a newspaper publisher, palms raised upwards with a shrug, bemoans dropping circulation rates and and decries an apathetic readership.

Newcombe, the same gent who just told us that Hart’s family will be using an extensive computer archive of Hart’s drawings to produce the strip, has posted a memorial to Hart in which he says that Hart spoke . . . 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.

Can one inherit a genius for scanning simple-but-beautiful artwork?