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RC Harvey examines Johnny Hart’s faith and BC

RC Harvey examines Johnny Hart’s Christianity and how it found a way in the Johnny’s B.C..

A ?re-committed? fundamentalist Christian who taught Sunday School every week in the little Presbyterian church in the nearby New York town of Ninevah, Hart frequently delivered sermons in his comic strip. Said Maxwell: ?Hart believes the Lord put him into the cartooning world for a reason. Every prudent chance he gets, he takes advantage of it. On Hallowe?en, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter?and many days between?Hart?s characters offer messages reflecting the cartoonist?s own firm belief in the gospel message. ?I find myself trying to put the gospel into practically every strip I create without being obvious about it,? he says.?

Correction: The original post credited “Bob Harvey.” Appologies to RC.

Community Comments

#1 David Jones
March/22/2012
@ 8:18 am

BC has always been one of my favorite strips. I have been a big fan of the Hart’s preachings for many years and always look froward to those strips that sent a message.

In this day and age of “political correctness” and “belief sensitivity”, a strip speaking about God may never even be considered for syndication. I miss the old days.

Thanks God for the Harts.

#2 Terry LaBan
March/22/2012
@ 9:09 am

BC was syndicated because it was a funny, post-modern take on cavemen, not because it was “speaking about God”. And yeah, Jews have some “belief sensitivity” about the notion that their religion has somehow been superseded by Christianity, which is what Hart basically stated in his most controversial cartoon. That isn’t just not “politically correct”–it’s not correct at all.

#3 David Jones
March/22/2012
@ 9:59 am

Not sure I caught that strip. I believe in the right to say what you want in regards to your own beliefs, but I do not believe in the right to cut away at other’s beliefs.

Unfortunately, today people think that if you are talking positive about your belief, even though you say nothing negative about others, people still think you are condemning their belief.

That’s why my strip is about an ant who loves to drink and have fun. Everyone loves to drink and have fun. Win win.

#4 Jeff Payden
March/22/2012
@ 11:20 am

Good thing God has a sense of humor.

After all, he created us.

#5 Bob Buethe
March/22/2012
@ 11:31 am

Terry’s probably referring to the strip at the end of this obit:
http://animatedtoast.blogspot.com/2007/04/johnny-hart-dies-at-76.html
Although I don’t think the message is all that clear-cut.

#6 David Jones
March/22/2012
@ 11:39 am

Wow! I just read it!!! SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!! I can see the controversy though.

I am too scared to play up my own beliefs in Charmy’s Army. I’ll just stick to being silly. I may even try to be funny some day…. lol…..

#7 Terry LaBan
March/22/2012
@ 11:49 am

@Bob Um…what other message could there be?

On a side note, given Hart’s interest in proselytizing, it’s pretty ironic his strip was called “B.C.”

#8 Pete McDonnell
March/22/2012
@ 1:10 pm

B.C. was the last comic strip I would have thought would become known as a vehicle for Christian beliefs. I loved the older strips, I still have a set of paperback reprints. The early B.C. was really witty, mixing up themes of early man and evolution with gags about his characters discovering the wheel, pianos, telephones, therapy, newspapers, politics. Whatever Hart wanted to talk about, he’d find a clever way to tie it into his caveman milieu. I’ve wondered if he came to dismiss evolution and embrace creationism as his beliefs changed?

#9 Gerry Mooney
March/22/2012
@ 1:41 pm

In interviews Hart said some truly execrable things about Jews, gays and his own mother, among others. As usual, “christianity” was used to deliver messages of intolerance, exclusivity and sheer meanness. Jesus must be turning over in his grave, poor dude!

#10 Gerry Mooney
March/22/2012
@ 1:43 pm

Sorry, I should have said, “IF Jesus had existed, he would be turning over in his grave.” My mistake.

#11 David Jones
March/22/2012
@ 1:56 pm

LOL…. Yep, you heard ’em Jesus… that was “his” mistake. I believe in You…. lol…

No offense Gerry. I respect your beliefs or your non beliefs… just wanted to slip in a joke. It was getting too serious here… lol…….

:)

#12 Dan Olson
March/22/2012
@ 4:21 pm

“I find myself trying to put the gospel into practically every strip I create without being obvious about it,? he says.?

This is truly scary that he thought he was being subtle about his proselytizing. As much as I loved the strip growing up i couldn’t read it at all in its later years.

#13 Mark_Tatulli
March/22/2012
@ 4:25 pm

Who is “Bob” Harvey?

Is R.C. attempting to re-brand himself?

#14 Justin Riley
March/22/2012
@ 5:00 pm

Harvey was wrong about the Islam joke. Outhouses have always had crescent moons on them and the additional moon in the sky was just a nice bit of artistic symmetry. Hart would’ve considered lying and cowardice to be a sin, he would’ve owned the joke if it was intended. He led with his chin his entire career and wouldn’t have duck for cover in his seventies. We should take Johnny Hart at his word, but it was still a great article.

#15 Joe Engesser
March/22/2012
@ 5:02 pm

Paul Harvey’s nephew? …Good day!

#16 Jeff Payden
March/22/2012
@ 8:06 pm

I also enjoyed reading BC growing up. Can’t say I followed Hart’s work as closely later in his career. However, this wasn’t because of his desire to include Christian messages.

I can’t comment accurately on Mr. Hart’s beliefs, comments or actions and won’t attempt to do so. But I would like to say, it’s unfortunate that Jesus Christ and Christianity are far too often judged on the misguided actions and ill-chosen words of some believers.

I once heard, and truly believe, “that the greatest hinderance to people believing the message of Jesus is Christians professing Christ with their mouths, but living contrary to His teachings.” And sometimes it’s a matter of well-intentioned believers coming on too strong when they share their faith. Simple love, grace and forgiveness go a long way.

Lastly, as a believer I would like to comment on Gerry’s remark regarding Christ turning over in His grave. It’s a little hard for someone to turn over in a grave that they rose from.

#17 Mike Peterson
March/23/2012
@ 4:24 am

Hart was a genuinely nice guy who was sincere about his beliefs. But, upon his conversion experience, he hijacked his own hipster cartoon and turned it into a billboard for those religious views.

The change says more about editors than about Hart. My view is that he should have started a new strip to promote Christianity. I don’t think it was artistically valid or commercially honest to swap premises on an existing strip. But then what do I know? I was one of the very few who felt that Peanuts died with Sparky and that our readers deserved new strips, not reruns.

And, if you want to talk about “political correctness,” some papers might well have dropped a repurposed (and increasingly unfunny) strip, except that it’s not politically correct these days to criticize anyone who proclaims their allegiance to the Lord.

#18 Mike Lester
March/23/2012
@ 8:24 am

“except that it?s not politically correct these days to criticize anyone who proclaims their allegiance to the Lord.”

Not only is this not even remotely accurate, you don’t even believe it. -Unless you meant to type, “Mohammed”.

As for B.C., it was once THE best illustrated strip often w/ little or no dialog. He ‘wrote’ visual humor as well as I’ve ever seen it done. Then the strip turned into a guy in white socks knocking on your door handing out religious tracts. (full disclosure: been a Christian all my life but sometimes I take the cigar out of my mouth.)

#19 Andrew Caddell
March/23/2012
@ 9:23 am

I draw a comic strip about church called “On the seventh day . . .”. The strip is published in my church every week and in three years I have yet to offend anybody concerning my cartoons. Also, the book by Hart called “I did it his way” is truly a masterpiece. Unbelievable stuff!!! :)

#20 Pete McDonnell
March/23/2012
@ 12:58 pm

I agree with both Mikes here, B.C. was a great gag strip, and hipster is a good way to describe it. I always kinda pictured hart & Brant Parker and their buddies knocking back some drinks, scribbling ideas on cocktail napkins, coming up with wacky ideas and (admittedly sexist) gags based on the two “girls” in the strip, Cute Chick and Fat Broad. Speaking of broads, Al Capp wrote a funny forward to one of the early paperback collections, where he compares himself to Rita Hayworth (“a long established beauty”) and hart to Tuesday Weld (“fresh, young, new, vibrant”).” B.C.” was as cool and insouciant as a comic strip gets. That’s why it puzzled me when hart got religion and went into the Christian material. It was an odd fit.

#21 Dan Olson
March/23/2012
@ 2:29 pm

Andrew Caddell, I glad no one has been offended by your cartoons. However; have you ever heard the phrase “preaching to the choir”?

#22 Carl Moore
March/23/2012
@ 6:18 pm

“B.C.” was one of the best strips ever, Christian stuff or hipster – it was all good. It was beautifully, yet simply, drawn, the characters were well-delineated, and it was consistently funny and clever. They don’t get much better than that.

#23 Mike Peterson
March/23/2012
@ 8:38 pm

So criticizing Christians won’t get any furious letters to the editor? We can say “Happy Holidays” without complaints from anyone? We don’t have to have that silly thing about “under God” in the Pledge anymore? And it’s perfectly all right to get up and say that we don’t want a prayer before graduation?

Well, I’m glad that’s over! Phew!

#24 Andrew Caddell
March/24/2012
@ 6:30 am

@Dan: HA HA HA. Good one. I might use that for my next drawing. :) Don’t worry . . . you’ll get a royalty check in the mail. :) Have a good one bro.

#25 Mike Lester
March/24/2012
@ 11:09 am

Two words: Tim Tebow. Here’s two more: Molly Norris.

Willfully disingenuous (and typical) to ignore Christian bashing is all the rage. No problem. Seems they can take it. Seen the new Sunday night show, G.C.B.? Seen G.M.(uslims)B.? Nope and you never will.

But back to B.C., Guy Gilchrist (no pun intended) seems to have picked up where Johnny Hart left off.

#26 Mike Peterson
March/25/2012
@ 4:32 am

Mike L., your narrow a view and partisan definition of “political correctness” aside, that’s an unfair accusation. Guy has created (no pun intended) his own strips that reflect his Christian beliefs, but, as current “Nancy” cartoonists, he has not hijacked the strip to promote religion, which is what Hart did.

There’s nothing wrong with creating a religious cartoon. What I think most Hart critics objected to was jamming religious messages into an existing secular cartoon.

I’d also point out that Hart preached triumphalist hellfire and Guy preaches hope and love. I think Hart critics were less upset by his professions of religion than his implicit and explicit criticism of those who did not share his beliefs.

#27 Marc Davidson
March/25/2012
@ 10:20 am

People who want to share their religious views with you, almost never want you to share yours with them.

#28 Marc Davidson
March/25/2012
@ 10:24 am

#27. I think that was a Dave Barry quote.

#29 brent childerhose
March/27/2012
@ 7:49 am

interesting profile on Johnny Hart. i’ll avoid commenting on his religious beliefs (other than to note it’s fascinating that he believed god gave him the measles at age 47 in order to restore his liver), but admit i enjoyed (and felt a little envy) reading about his wonderful studio and “snowballing” process…

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