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Filling big shoes; Mason Mastroianni takes over on B.C.

Mason Mastroianni
Photos courtesy of John Hart Studios

Perhaps no other cartoonist, with so little cartooning experience, has ever taken on such a iconic and highly syndicated feature as Mason Mastroianni has with the famous comic strip B.C.. Under normal circumstances, an aspiring cartoonist and his comic feature would be given a developmental period to work with an editor and hone the skills of producing a quality comic strip, but after the death of his grandfather, Johnny Hart, Mason found himself at the helm of one of the most highly syndicated features – read by millions of people everyday.

Six months prior to Johnny’s death, he was diagnosed with cancer. In the following months, Johnny under went chemotherapy and was successful in fighting the cancer, but the cure had taken its toll and left the iconic cartoonist weaker. In April of this year, he passed away at his drawing board due to a stroke. It was during those months battling cancer that the topic of B.C.’s future of was discussed. Johnny, a very private person, didn’t speak of it openly. He had mentioned in passing to his friend and Creators Syndicate President Rick Newcombe that he hoped that his grandson Mason would continue the feature, but Johnny kept that wish from Mason out of fear of pressuring him to take on the strip if he didn’t want to. Mason was then employed in Minnesota doing computer animation and was building his own career in illustration.

After Johnny’s sudden passing, the family sat together to discuss options for the feature. Options on the table included retiring it, carrying it on themselves or selling it. Mason’s grandmother, Bobby, his mother Patti Pomeroy and aunt Perri Hart, rejected the latter option. Together they decided that they didn’t want it to retire if they had the ability to carry it on. Perri had worked for years on the feature hand lettering each strip. If the feature was to continue, everyone knew that it would be up to Mason to which he reportedly responded, “I’m ready to take it on if that’s what you want me to do.”

In the weeks that followed, Creators ran six weeks of classic B.C. strips selected by the family. It was a tribute to Johnny, but also gave the family needed lead time to begin producing the strip. Creators tried to assure newspapers that the new B.C. would not be vastly different from the old because the family was going to use Photoshop® to copy and paste earlier artwork, but Mason says that the family always intended to carry on the tradition of hand drawing and inking the originals. Mason, who had only “messed around” in drawing the B.C. characters prior to his grandfather’s death now had to take a crash coarse to learn Johnny’s drawing style fluently. He spent those first weeks practicing “every wakeful hour.” By the end of those six weeks, Mason reports that he was fairly comfortable drawing the characters and with that, the family began producing B.C. in earnest. Mason and his brother Mick, and aunt Perri are the primary writers now, with Mason doing all the artwork. Perri also does lettering, coloring and the final edits. Patti runs the office and business side of the studio.

It should also be noted that during that time that many in the cartooning community reached out to give the Mason some much needed advice. Many of those cartoonists had their own experiences of taking over iconic strips. Guy Gilchrist, who now draws Nancy offered Mason advice that Mason says was timely then and now. Others included Jeff Parker, who took over his father’s Wizard of Id a decade ago, Dean Young, son of Blondie creator Chic Young and Chris Cassett, who took over the writing of Jeff MacNelly’s Shoe all had helpful advice.

Mason at the drawing board

The pressure to do well has been overwhelming and without a doubt Mason reports that this is the biggest challenge he’s ever had. Such a challenge comes with mixed emotions. He recognizes that he has, “fallen into something really amazing,” but he’s also harbored doubts of whether he’s up to it. His grandfather has cast a large shadow over the profession. The strip runs in over a thousand newspapers – one of only a dozen or so to be so widely syndicated. While most papers have retained the feature, a few have dropped it because it is no longer drawn by it’s original creator. Mason says he doesn’t take it those drops personally as he understands there will be a transition time, but he is determined to prove to those that keep him that they won’t regret giving him a shot.

He is trying to keep the drawing style based on drawing style of B.C. strips from the late 80’s and 90’s. Johnny’s drawing style changed over the decades and Mason would like to evolve the style back to that of the 70’s which the family regards as their favorite period of their father’s work. As to those religious themed strips that Johnny was famous for running on Christian holidays, Mason expect those to continue. “We’d probably like keep doing those because it’s such apart of B.C.

He also reports that readers should expect the strip to be a bit sillier – much like it was in the 70’s. He enjoys writing gags using the ants as they lend themselves to more physical comedy. Readers may notice that he’s updated some of the technology the characters use to allow for more timely gags and he’s also drawing the characters up closer and increasing the size of the lettering in response to early feedback from readers.

So far, the response to his work has largely been positive. Mort Walker has said, “I’ve been watching the strip every day and marveling at how well Mason is doing. It’s amazing how close he comes to Johnny’s talent and quality.” Bill Janocha, an assistant to Mort, mentions that, “Mason’s handling of B.C. is exceptional.”

As far as launching his own feature someday, he says it’s something that he’d like to do. Right now he is helping his brother Mick with his feature, The Dogs of Kennel C which is under development with Creators. For now, he’s enjoying his work and the experience he’s gaining. He hopes of attending future cartoonist gatherings to learn more about the art and business that he’s carrying on for his grandfather.

Community Comments

#1 John Read
@ 8:26 am

Well, as I said before, I am a long-time fan of B.C., and I’ve really been enjoying the strip’s return to the silliness I remember from the 70’s and 80’s. Mason’s proven he can render the characters in a style complimentary to his grandfather, and the strip still has enough “funny” to it to warrant it’s place on the funny pages.

#2 Guy Gilchrist
@ 8:35 am

It is kind of Mason to mention me along with the other cartoonists who have lent advice and encouragement. The encouragement and support is all Mason needs. He has mammoth talent, and a great head on his shoulders. He also has Perri, Mick, and an extraordinary support system of love and talent. You GO, Mason!

#3 Mike Witmer
@ 9:12 am

I’ll tell ya what…those are some big shoes to fill. I can’t imagine the initial pressure Mason felt. Even if you take the entire cartoon-reading community out of the mix, the desire to make his grandfather proud must’ve been HUGE.

#4 Ted Slampyak
@ 9:18 am

I remember when I got a call from Tribune Media asking me if I wanted to take over the art on (little Orphan) Annie. They asked me to make up a couple of samples, which I did, using a recent character drawing and what I could find on the Internet as reference. I emailed the samples on a Thursday. The next Tuesday I got a call from them, saying the job was mine if I wanted it. I said yes, of course.

“Good,” they said, “because we’re way behind. We need the first Sunday strip from you by Friday.”

That was my transition period into the strip. So I know a little what Mason is going through. And of course, though his lead tie seems luxurious compared to mine, I didn’t have nearly the pressure he does in terms of who’s watching.

Good luck, Mason! Looks like you’re off to a good start — and that B.C. is in safe hands.

Ted Slampyak

#5 Danny Burleson
@ 12:13 pm

I read B.C. every day and he has definitely done a great job taking over the strip. It’s certainly different in tone and style, but only slightly, and perhaps even for the better. I normally dislike long-running strips that are continued by another artist, even a relative, but for now, this strip is the exception to the rule.

Keep up the great work, Mason and family!

#6 Mark
@ 2:02 pm

This kid is a smart cookie. Great artists. I wish him the best of luck.

#7 Garey Mckee
@ 6:05 pm

“While most papers have retained the feature, a few have dropped it because it is no longer drawn by itâ??s original creator. Mason says he doesnâ??t take it those drops personally as he understands there will be a transition time, but he is determined to prove to those that keep him that they wonâ??t regret giving him a shot.”

I wonder if, in a situation like this, the papers that dropped the strip will eventually pick it up again when they see how well thes trip is carried on by Mason?

By the way, great article Alan!

#8 Alan Gardner
@ 6:19 pm

As I watched newspapers react to the death of Brant Parker and Johnny Hart, I noted a few dropping them simply because the original creator had passed and the features “weren’t living up to the original artist’s work.” In the case of Wizard of Id, Brant’s son Jeff had been doing the strip for the decade – so there wasn’t ANY transition or change in the feature, other than an editor’s knowledge that the original cartoonist wasn’t doing it anymore. I think the Hart family is doing the right thing – they’re trying to get Mason out in the public so readers can understand that someone with a passion to carry on the Johnny’s work is at the helm and that his work is worth their attention. I hope it works.

On a related note, after Johnny died, I admit that I stopped reading B.C. – my bias being the second generation of cartoonists couldn’t match the original – but in preparation for this interview, I read back the last months worth of B.C. and enjoyed it very much. I think they’re doing great and I’ve added B.C. back into my comic email subscription for myself and my kids. Mason, et al. are doing a great job at creating a feature that speaks to many age groups. Not many can do that.

#9 Rich Diesslin
@ 9:05 pm

Nice article Alan! I think it’s great that they are moving more to the gags and pathos of the 70’s cartoons (even the 60s would be good too) … seems like they know where they want to go with it. So far, I think they are doing a good job of it.

#10 Guy Gilchrist
@ 12:28 pm

“I wonder if, in a situation like this, the papers that dropped the strip will eventually pick it up again when they see how well thes trip is carried on by Mason?”

From my experience, no.

The editors of the large papers that drop a feature usually take the messages, emails and letters, but don’t change their minds, and budgets. They will reply that you can still enjoy such and such on the blahblah website, but we’re going to give “brandnew strip x” a shot now.
You see, when a paper stops an older strip, that older strip, because it’s been running a long time, usually costs quite a bit more than the new one that replaces it. So, they tell you to go read it on the website, and they save money with the new one.

On occasion, a drop raises such a hubbub that the strip is reinstated….and always at a discount from the syndicate.
I’ve been in many of these situations over the years. I’ve had to say goodbye to Washington Dc,etc and thankyou and hello again in Atlanta, etc.

The one chance a strip has to be reinstated if it has changed hands, is if the Editor that dropped it leaves, and the new one really likes it.

#11 Ilene Sears
@ 9:48 pm

I do pray that your christianity will show through just as Your grandfathers did. I do looked forward to reading of God’s humor and lighter side with the truth shining through. I’m glad you’re taking over to keep up a good tradition but don’t lose your self expression. It’s important also. God Bless

#12 Chris H.
@ 10:07 pm

I haven’t read “B.C.” since Johnny Hart died, and when I caught up on the last month of it online after reading this article, I was pleasantly surprised by the change. Mason is doing an excellent job. It really feels like a return the golden years of “B.C.”

I noticed that he signed the bottom of the panel “Mason,” and that made me think of how his strip along with several others no longer by the original creator (and I’m talking some, not all) still have the name of the original creator in the byline. Personally I think that they should give credit where credit is due. For example, it should read “B.C.” by Mason Mastroianni, created by Johnny Hart. (Or some variation of that.) These guys deserve it.

Finally, I just wanted to say that while I am usually against the perpetuation of a strip after the creator’s death by a successor, Mason’s work makes a strong argument in the practice’s favor. It seems that “B.C.” is back on my regular reading list.

#13 Dawn Douglass
@ 11:01 pm

Mason has 25% of his grandfather’s genes. Nice that somebody got those drawing ones! :)

#14 Malc
@ 3:37 am

Cannot see why anyone would even bother trying to draw new BC strips when thousands of the originals are in existence and can simply be scanned and used with new jokes. It would seem to be preferable to penning third rate versions of Hart’s art.

#15 Pab Sungenis
@ 6:34 am

Maybe because the next “Beware Of The Trund,” for example, won’t come from the currently existing art.

Before Jonny Hart felt the need to shove his own peculiar flavor of Christianity down everyone else’s throats, he used to come up with some wonderfully wacky visual gags and inventive writing. In the last few years the art got as stagnant as the writing. When was the last time we saw Thor riding his wheel? Or Clumsy talking to fish? When was the last “CLAMS GOT….” strip before Jonny’s passing?

Mason is doing the right thing by drawing new art; even if the first year or so continues the “Wiley’s Dictionary” and “Show me…” model most of the time, as he gets more comfortable he’ll branch out and maybe the strip will be innovative again.

And, as a Christian myself, let me just say that I’d rather more people of my faith wore their faith in their hearts rather than on their sleeves, because too often it can’t be in both places.

#16 Guy Gilchrist
@ 1:59 pm

“And, as a Christian myself, let me just say that Iâ??d rather more people of my faith wore their faith in their hearts rather than on their sleeves, because too often it canâ??t be in both places.”

I’m a Christian, and a cartoonist, and I knew John, and, talk about “heart”, Hart lived his faith in every way.

#17 Garey Mckee
@ 4:39 pm

I don’t believe there is anything wrong with strong Christian overtones in a comic strip, or in anything for that matter. Believe me, with the things I deal with every day I wish there was more of it out there.

#18 Rick Stromoski
@ 6:47 pm

>>Believe me, with the things I deal with every day I wish there was more of it out there.

I’ve just been subjected to a series of hatefilled emails over the past few days led by a fundamentalist christian minister and several of his constituents who happened to see one of my characters eating a banana as phallic and accused me of promoting child sexual abuse, pedophilia and sodomy. They’r advocating lobbying my syndicate and the papers where my feature appears to drop me. I’ve been told that I will spend eternity in a lake of fire because in their eyes consuming fruit represents devient homo erotic “filth” and that I am a perverted pederast.

Yeah we definitely need more religion interjecting itself into our everyday lives.

#19 Pab Sungenis
@ 6:47 pm

Garey, there’s a big difference between Christian overtones (which are in a number of strips, honestly) and the “hit you over the head” approach Jonny Hart used. Christian overtones don’t include comparing Islam to a bodily function, or suggesting that Christianity is superior to Judaism, both of which were statements in later B.C. strips.

Jonny Hart may have been a Christian, and had a strong Christian faith, but in his strip he would sometimes preach hatred and intolerance, and pretend it was Christianity.

Christian overtones? Fine. Religious themed strips around Easter and Christmas? Fine. But don’t pretend that one’s intolerance or even outright hatred is equivalent to my faith and yours.

Besides, most of us who grew up with B.C. read it for the humor, not the religion. If there are “Christians” who are concerned that Mason is going to use the strip to entertain again and might not use it to proselytize, then let them go create their own strip called “Jesus Christ And His Amazing Friends” or something. B.C. is, and for most of its existence had been, a humor strip. Keep the humor.

#20 Rich Diesslin
@ 7:56 pm

Pat it seems you are carrying a huge chip on your shoulder about Hart’s use of religion. For the few that seemed to have offended you there were most that probably didn’t and 99% that had nothing to do with religion at all. I couldn’t disagree with you more on his use of religion.

Rick … good luck with that banana thing, you pervert (hehe, just kidding). There are wackos in all walks of life, but most are attracted to religious, political or environmental extremism these days. That doesn’t mean every religious, political or environmental person is a nut job. I would have thought the guy was going nuts after reading your blog posts, not your cartoons! Seriously though, no one needs those kinds of distractions, I hope he finds something else more important to protest … like Doonesbury’s use of pickles.

#21 Garey Mckee
@ 8:41 pm


I do agree with you. I really do approve of promoting good christian values, however, I’m not one for anything overly preachy or anyone trying to force their veiws and opinions on me. And usually, any strip or story that tries to hit you over the head with it’s views overtly I consider to be poorly written (unless it’s mine LOL).

and Rick,

That sort of radical right religious garbage is not what I meant. I’m sorry that those a-holes went after you like that.

#22 Dave Krainacker
@ 8:45 pm

I have to admit that I have not read much of your comic strip. It’s not part of the two syndicates I subscribe to. But after reading your post about someone trying to shut you down I’ll be buying your book from Amazon. Mr. Diesslin is correct in that there are extremists everywhere, but the vast majority of people are reasonable.

#23 monte
@ 5:58 am

I think mason is doing a good job.I heard where his brother mik is the better artist tho, who knows…anyway keep up the good work.

#24 Rick Stromoski
@ 6:20 am

â?¥â?¥â?¥That doesnâ??t mean every religious, political or environmental person is a nut job.

Agreed. But the nature of the Abrahamic religions at their core, believe they have not only a right but an obligation to tell people in general how they should live their lives, who they can sleep with, what they can eat, what to think, how they can have sex, what art or music they can appreciate, what science should be and what is taught in our schools and it’s not just extremists who do so. It’s tolerated by the so called moderates amongst the faithful which allows it to flourish.

At times as mentioned in some of the posts above, Hart contributed to this climate of intolerance through his strip. Of course, he had every right to do so, but should expect to hear from those who don’t hold that world view.

>>>But after reading your post about someone trying to shut you down Iâ??ll be buying your book from Amazon.

Thanks Dave….that’ll make five people who bought it. :)

#25 Rich Diesslin
@ 11:15 am

Rick, perhaps that’s your experience with it, but it’s not mine. I’ve found most generally pleasant and non-judgmental, but then again, I haven’t done too many banana jokes! ;)

#26 JeffM
@ 11:27 am

Well Rick, at least those Christian extremist you talk off haven’t put a bounty on your decapitated head and rioted in the streets, burning ephigees of you, forcing you into hiding….

With you hatred and intolerance to Christians, are you any different than those “extremist” you write about?

Rick said: “At times as mentioned in some of the posts above, Hart contributed to this climate of intolerance through his strip. Of course, he had every right to do so, but should expect to hear from those who donâ??t hold that world view.”

Please, don’t be a hypocrite…..

#27 Rick Stromoski
@ 12:47 pm

â?¥â?¥ With you hatred and intolerance to Christians, are you any different than those â??extremistâ? you write about?

I do not hate Christians or anyone of the various faiths. Most of my friends and family are religious people and I certainly don’t hate them. You are confusing criticism of the interjection of ones personal religious beliefs to effect public policy with hate. Most of my religious family and friends agree with me. One is a Baptist minister my daughter and I do volunteer work with. I have no problem with people of belief so long as do not insist on imposing those beliefs upon others. The attempt to impose creationism and prayer into public schools is religion imposing itself onto others. The denial of public funding of stem cell research is another example of religion imposing itself onto the public. Public tax dollars being shifted to faith based charities is another. The persecution of homosexuals is another. These are just a few examples of how is faith interjecting itself into peoples private affairs. That’s what I find objectionable.

As for the Islamic offenses in the beginning of your post, I agree wholeheartedly that these people are inhuman and dangerous. Extremists who believe God is on their side usually commit the worst of atrocities.

#28 Scott
@ 1:42 pm

“Extremists who believe God is on their side usually commit the worst of atrocities.”

Exactly. And extremists in ANY religion are bad news. Whether they’re Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Amish, Mormon, etc etc etc..

Islamic extremists decapitate ‘infidels’….Christian extremists bomb abortion clinics. They’re all practice the exact *opposite* of what religion is supposed to stand for: peace, love, tolerance, tofu and granola.

Wait…scratch those last two–they’re what hippies stand for.

#29 Alan Gardner
@ 1:52 pm

Scott, everyone, please leave your last name when you post here on the Daily Cartoonist.

All, once again, we’re staying off the topic of Mason’s work on this grandfather’s feature, B.C.

I’m allowing the discussion to continue for now, but keep in mind it will be turned off if it turns into a religious flame war.

#30 Garey Mckee
@ 2:15 pm

I’m sorry Alan, I think that was partially my fault for going off topic. I hope Mason is very successful in his endeavors with BC, capturing the spirit of the strip’s past while at the same time moving forward.

#31 Rick Stromoski
@ 2:16 pm

Perhaps if contributors posted their email addresses so the topic can be taken off site, public flaming could be avoided.

I also think Mason is doing a terrific job on BC. It seems to be reverting to it’s almost vaudevillian roots.

#32 Mike Lester
@ 2:22 pm

No flame just an honest observation: I’m unable to find anyone other than Paul Hill, James Kopp and Eric Rudolph who’ve killed in the name of Christianity.

#33 Scott Metzger
@ 2:45 pm


Sorry, my bad–forgot to type my last name. But I did have my link, that’s gotta count for something, right? No? Okay. I’ll post as Scott Metzger from now on. Besides, there are too many Scotts in cartooning already.

#34 Wiley Miller
@ 2:55 pm

Ever hear of the Crusades, Mike? How about witch burning? Does the Spanish Inquisition ring a bell? Then there was that little matter in Germany about 70 years ago. Let’s see… then there those pesky little lynchings by the KKK in the South (yes, they proudly refer to themselves as a Christian organization, whether anyone likes it or not). I could go on if you like, but none of it has anything to do with B.C.

No flame, just helping out a buddy to jog his memory.

#35 John Read
@ 3:16 pm

When you repeatedly misspell someone’s name, is that disrespect or ignorance? Just wondering.

#36 Mike Lester
@ 3:20 pm

Color me blushing. We now return you to your regularly scheduled crucifix urine dunking and missionary raping. “Nevermind” -Gilda Radner

#37 Wiley Miller
@ 3:58 pm

“We now return you to your regularly scheduled crucifix urine dunking and missionary raping. ”

Yes, of course…an art installation is eqaul to torture and genocide. I get those mixed up all the time, too, Mike.

And you really want bring up “missionary raping” in light of the pedophile priests harbored by Catholic church? You might want to be a little more careful about tossing those stones around in your glass house. Trying to promote or condemn one religion over another is always a losing game and such discussions go nowhere, other than to cause more misery. I think it was said best hundreds of years ago:

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.”

Blaise Pascal

#38 Rich Diesslin
@ 7:38 pm

I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man’s being unable to sit still in a room. -Blaise Pascal. Of course Pascal’s Wager is a fairly famous piece as well – where he argues in favor of the logic of believing in the existence of God.

At any rate, all this really had to do with Pab being offended by Hart’s use of Christianity in an occasional cartoon. He really seldom did except around Easter and Christmas. If, on occasion, he showed preference to his version of faith, that was more cheer leading than hate speech. Most folks think their faith or beliefs (or lack there of) are the best, that’s why they hold them. That it comes out in a cartoon shouldn’t really be that big a deal. Even Rick concedes that it’s a cartoonist’s own prerogative whether to use the topic.

If Mason is so inclined to continue in that tradition, more power to him. I think a lot of folks like the occasional nod to Christianity. I like the current cartoons and I wish Mason well. Although some environmental groups are probably going to go “bananas” on him with the pouring oil on noisy seals cartoon (this past Wed. I believe)!

Interestingly, I’m guessing B.C. would not be of interest to creationists … at least not the ones that deny dinosaurs ever existed. ;)

#39 Malc McGookin
@ 7:57 pm

Pab, I’m not bothered if Mason is doing the “right thing” by drawing everything anew, although I’m not sure what constitutes “right” in this.
The fact is that if he is to keep faith with the strip as it stands, the landscape and situations were virtually static, there’s nothing “new” about them.
>>In the last few years the art got as stagnant as the writing. When was the last time we saw Thor riding his wheel? Or Clumsy talking to fish? When was the last â??CLAMS GOTâ?¦.â? strip before Jonnyâ??s passing?

#40 Malc McGookin
@ 7:59 pm

>>In the last few years the art got as stagnant as the writing. When was the last time we saw Thor riding his wheel? Or Clumsy talking to fish? When was the last â??CLAMS GOTâ?¦.â? strip before Jonnyâ??s passing?

#41 Malc McGookin
@ 8:00 pm

Sorry, the messages all seem to get wiped after that last phrase.
I’ll try again:
>>In the last few years the art got as stagnant as the writing. When was the last time we saw Thor riding his wheel? Or Clumsy talking to fish? When was the last â??CLAMS GOTâ?¦.â? strip before Jonnyâ??s passing?

#42 Malc McGookin
@ 8:00 pm

Well, that’s hardly a clarion call for a new direction! So what’s the point in drawing it all over again? Just come up with some fresh gags and use the old artwork, or re-jig the old artwork where a unique element is needed.
It’s been proven that the general public don’t give a hoot, so what difference does it make? A new artist isn’t needed, just a writer and someone who can cut and paste in Photoshop.

#43 Pab Sungenis
@ 8:11 pm

But my point is that creative writing often requires new art. I mentioned “beware of the trund” before; that kind of visual gag needs fresh art. One of my favorite B.C.’s of all time involved the ants walking up the side of a cliff, and around a wheel, which then rolls back off the cliff because of their added weight. There was no dialogue at all in that strip (well, except for screaming).

As for the “CLAMS GOT” strips, they need to be different visually, since they’re often comments on something visual happening in the strip. (“CLAMS GOT STRIP MINING!” or something like that.)

I realize that, as the guy who made a name for himself as a cartoonist (very little name, true, but name nonetheless) as a user of PhotoImpact and photographs instead of ink, pen and brush, I’m not one to talk about the need for original art, but I’m very glad that Mason is taking the time to actually draw the strip, because then he can create his own visual gags as they come to him, which is something Hart excelled at, especially during the strip’s early years.

Also, it’s nice to watch characters evolve over time. Hart’s characters looked differently when he died than they did when the strip started. Changes of artist usually speed these changes. Guy’s Nancy doesn’t look much like Jerry Scott’s, which didn’t look much like Ernie Bushmiller’s, etc. Mason’s B.C. will, eventually, look different from his granddad’s, and that’s not a bad thing. Dynamic characters change, and good writing and good art often help the process.

#44 Garey Mckee
@ 12:28 am

I agree with Pab. New art is a must. I think it’s kind of insulting in a way to suggest that a strip like BC use recycled artwork to continue. If you’re recycling old art then what’s the point of even continuing a strip? How can it ever grow or move forward? And I also agree with Pab’s hopes that the style of art and writing in Mason’s BC evolve over time. It’s only natural.

#45 Garey Mckee
@ 12:34 am

Just an additional note.

I can remember reading where Robert McCay was encouraged to republish Winsor’s Little Nemo in Slumberland comics from the turn of the century in the 40’s for a brief period. The recycled comics met with lackluster fanfare, and Robert even altered some of his fathers original art, a true crime indeed. Recycling old art to try to reinvent or keep a legacy going is always a bad idea and seems to have never produced good results.

#46 Malc McGookin
@ 2:40 am

Yet Peanuts is re-published daily (and has been for years). Wouldn’t your McCay theory have prevented the Schulz estate from doing this?

We have here a young man with no apparent experience or track record in cartooning who has been gifted a world famous strip to continue on in the name of its original creator, his grandfather.
So who cares if the venture is a success, apart from the stakeholders (the syndicate and Hart’s estate)? Certainly not me.

Why would anyone who purports to care about cartooning as a profession or an art form be cheering this from the sidelines? What are we cheering for? The little guy? Someone making good against all odds? What?

Do you stand and shout “way to GO, dude!!” when some millionaire buys up a company, fires the staff and increases his share price by 75%?

Why not? That’s just business, and so is this.

#47 Pab Sungenis
@ 6:23 am


What we are cheering is that we aren’t losing a good friend, so to speak.

There were so many ways that Johnny Hart’s death could have destroyed B.C. The syndicate and family could have ended it, with the obvious results. The syndicate could have put it in the hands of someone without an emotional attachment to it (like happened with Jerry Scott and Nancy) which could have resulted in it being a shadow of (or worse, a parody of) its former self. They could have gone through with their threat to just keep recycling the old art, preventing the creation of new visual gags that the strip had been known for.

Mason’s taking over was the best that could happen, as his product bears out.

#48 Wiley Miller
@ 7:23 am

I think Bill Watterson put it succinctly in his talk at the Ohio State Festival of Cartoon Art many years ago when he said, “If you’re good enough to take over someone else’s strip, then you should be good enough to do your own”.

#49 Rick Stromoski
@ 8:23 am

The primary problem with Legacy strips is that you’re asking a syndicate or a deceased creators estate , whose primary function is to make a profit, to just throw away an enormous income stream upon the death of a creator purely for esthetic reasons. You’re talking about millions of dollars a year in Hart’s case in addition to the largest share of comics real estate out there if you factor in Wizard of Id as well. To do so would probably mean the demise or serious crippling of Creators syndicate.They’re just not going to do it.

Strips like Nancy, that may not have the numbers it did when Bushmiller was doing it, still brings in substantial income for the syndicate as well as the creative team that does it. And to their credit, the Gilchrists helped bring up the numbers it lost by reverting to it’s original style or at least closer to it then when Jerry was drawing it. In Jerry’s defense, although his experiment with changing the look of Nancy was innovative and fresh, the reading public historically doesn’t like change and it lost papers.

These cash cows help keep a syndicate afloat. I’m not advocating one way or another I’m just stating facts. Hypothisizing whether keeping legacy strips afloat or not is a non-starter so you’re just pi$$ing in the wind making the argument against.

The best way to garner real estate and knock features off the comics page that you consider stale is to come up with a blockbuster strip of your own. Tatulli, Pastis, Conley are the last ones to do so. Best to follow that model.

#50 Wiley Miller
@ 9:22 am

“Hypothisizing whether keeping legacy strips afloat or not is a non-starter so youâ??re just pi$$ing in the wind making the argument against.”

I couldn’t agree more. That’s simply dealing with the reality of the business, and it is, after all, a business first and foremost. Always has been, always will be. Grousing about gets nowhere. That doesn’t mean you should agree with it, much less like it. It just means you have to deal with it. And as Rick correctly points out, the best way to do that is to create a better alternative.

Personally, on a business standpoint, I think the practice of keeping legacy strips beyond the death of the feature’s creator by the hand of another (as opposed to reprinting the original work, like Peanuts) is taking a short term gain, but causing a long term loss, as it stymies their development of new products. Not all syndicates go along with this practice, either. Nevertheless, it is still a reality of the business.

#51 Anne Hambrock
@ 10:51 am

I feel that if a syndicate property (because that’s what these older strips are) is going to be kept afloat, rather than retired, after the creater dies or becomes otherwise incapacitated, then I would usually rather see it kept in the family than farmed out to someone else. Who better understands the vision of the creator than a family member who has probably been in close proximity to the strip for many years. While I understand the point of view that the family member is benefitting from a connection and getting a chance at syndication without going through the channels other aspiring cartoonists must pursue, I still think the family member should get a shot. As most above have said, Mason will succeed or not depending on his talent and ability to make B.C. its best.

As the wife of someone whose pursuit of syndication took many years, I absolutely understand the frustration of all those who would like to see older strips make way for newer ones, but I agree with Rick that aspiring cartoonists should spend more of their energy on creating a top notch feature that can grab its own spot than complaining about the older strips. I can’t pretend that I wouldn’t like to see more space open up on the comics page, but an open space is no guarantee that Edison Lee will get more papers. We will only get spots if we have a following big enough and the quality of the strip is high enough. I would cite as an example the semi-retiring of Foxtrot. That opened up a lot of newspaper spots but did not assure a windfall to any one strip. In fact, there are a lot of papers still trying to fill those Foxtrot spots by going through a seemingly endless “audition” process of new strips. I think the Olympian is on its 8th or 9th one and still hasn’t made a definitive decision.

I think Mason is on the right track and I wish him success.

#52 Garey Mckee
@ 5:46 pm

Peanuts is being recycled but it’s not MOVING FORWARD. Obviously Hart’s family and the syndicate wanted BC to move forward. The only way to do that is with new art and writing.

I apologize, as I really wasn’t trying to fan the flames of the legacy strip debate. The last thing i want to do is pi$$ in the wind. It chafes too much LOL.

#53 Eric Burke
@ 8:53 pm

I think Bill Watterson put it succinctly in his talk at the Ohio State Festival of Cartoon Art many years ago when he said, â??If youâ??re good enough to take over someone elseâ??s strip, then you should be good enough to do your ownâ?.

The best POV on legacy strips that I think I’ve read.

#54 Rich Diesslin
@ 10:40 pm

In defense of Nancy, I thought Jerry Scott breathed new life into that strip. I’m not sure how it did in a business sense, but I wrote that comic off until one day I thought it was actually fresh again … turns out that’s when Jerry had taken over. And perhaps Watterson was right in his claim because now Jerry Scott has two strips that are probably far more successful than Nancy.

In terms of B.C., the market will decide (in so much as the market gets to decide … in this case the market is the middleman, not the consumer), but I still wish Mason all the best on the attempt. It has been perkier but does it rival B.C.s best days? … probably not yet, but it seems to be headed in the right direction (IMHO).

#55 Dawn Douglass
@ 11:18 pm

I think Mason (and isn’t there another writer?) needs to make a list of the characters and what their character traits are and start writing with those in mind. He’s writing a gag strip. B.C. was a character driven strip, at least in its best days.

#56 Malc McGookin
@ 3:18 am

>>What we are cheering is that we arenâ??t losing a good friend, so to speak.>There were so many ways that Johnny Hartâ??s death could have destroyed B.C. The syndicate and family could have ended it, with the obvious results. The syndicate could have put it in the hands of someone without an emotional attachment to it (like happened with Jerry Scott and Nancy) which could have resulted in it being a shadow of (or worse, a parody of) its former self.

#57 Malc McGookin
@ 3:20 am

Continuing from the above:

Poor old Jerry Scott, one wonders how long he has to put up with this Nancy albatross, despite his present success. Garey mentioned that Peanuts isn’t moving forward, yet Nancy DID move forward under Scott. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
I’m not complaining about legacy strips, the syndicates have a vested interest in keeping their shelf space filled with their own products, I’m pointing out that this is all purely BUSINESS and there is little point in wishing success on a strip, a cartoonist, or a syndicate who have done nothing to deserve it.
The guy who did deserve it is gone.

Forming a cheer squad for a business venture which does not benefit cartooning one iota is ludicrous.

#58 Rick Stromoski
@ 7:36 am

The criticism of Jerry Scott’s interpretation of Nancy came from the reading public and features editors. Most if not all cartoonists consider Jerry’s run on it innovative and fresh. Just wanted to make that clear.

#59 Pab Sungenis
@ 7:53 am

As did I. The problem for the syndicate and long time readers was that Jerry’s Nancy grew into a parody of Bushmiller’s Nancy. Funny, yes, and I did love his run. Guy and Brad are closer to the Bushmiller product and still do a great job writing and drawing, it’s just not my cup of tea.

Jerry’s success since then bears out what a good writer he is.

To bring this back to the topic, maybe Mason’s work on B.C. will draw attention to his own work.

#60 Wiley Miller
@ 9:04 am

It should also be pointed out that Jerry Scott was hired to take over Nancy specifically to change the look and update the feature. And he did just that. Nancy was far better under Jerry’s pen than anyone else’s, in my opinion.

As Malcolm said, damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Taking over someone else’s feature is really a no-win situation.

#61 Guy Gilchrist
@ 11:32 am

Actually Wiley, That’s a popular misconception. Jerry was hired in quite a hurry after the very untimely and early death of mark Lasky, the cartoonist who took over nancy after UFS failed to tender a contract to Will Johnson, Ernie’s longterm assistant. It was such a difficult job finding someone to take over, in such a short time. You know, everyone at United had planned that of course, Mark being so young, was going to be doing the strip a very long time.
When Jerry took over, the idea was to keep the status quo on the art as much as possible The writing was going to change, because it was time to bring nancy into the 1980s as far as the props, and school, etc. So, on the writing side, you are correct. Both lasky, and Scott were told to keep the writing fresh. So was I. When you take over a longrunning classic, you must balance the familiar with what is your own style. No one ever thinks we do it well enough. That’s the collective “we” there. All us guys and gals that work on longrunning strips. Jerry has told me that he, just like me, worked 24/7 to slavishly mimmick Ernie’s art style. After a while, deadlines for Jerry were flying by and it was very difficult to meet them, trying to work on the strip and develop a salable style in the glare of hundreds of newspapers. Until you’ve been in that frying pan, you’ll never have a clue as to what that is like. Take the pressure you felt as a rookie doing your strip, figuring things out, then imagine being scrutinized by all sides in hundreds of papers by longterm readers who will never like anything you do, editors who want to dump you as soon as they have any excuse, and they just got one, and the reader who is reading the strip, not knowing anything about the strip’s creator, his passing, etc, and is just reading it. For all of those, you have to try really hard to keep it all together.

Anyway, Jerry basically told the folks at United that he was having a tough time drawing in a style other than his own, and that’s when they told him to try it his way.

For the record, Jerry did a great job. I had big shoes to fill, as he did.
I just did what he did…walked in my own shoes as soon as I could find my way.

#62 Guy Gilchrist
@ 11:42 am

Oh, and when we took the strip over, as Rick Stromoski mentioned, Nancy had been losing quite a few papers for a few years. Some people may not like my turn at Nancy, and some people, less vocal, have enjoyed it. I was told when I took it over(in 1995) that unless the strip steadied,unless we held with the big list that was vanishing, the strip would have been retired within the year. Last September, we quietly had our 12th anniversary.
Oh, and we don’t do someone else’s strip. It’s Brad’s and mine.

#63 Rich Diesslin
@ 12:34 pm

Guy, you make excellent points. I can’t comment on your take on Nancy since I have not read Nancy since the 80s. I was in Chicago in the early 80s, so I was very glad to see Jerry’s take on Nancy which was carried in the tribune at the time. I chalked the prior version of it off to strictly stale, kiddie humor, but Jerry brought it back from the grave (IMHO). Since I moved to Dayton, I haven’t read it (not in my local paper). Congrats on 12 years on it though, you must be doing something right!!!

You are right when you say I have no idea how much pressure is on someone taking over a legacy strip! Of course, I also have no idea of taking on the pressures of a daily syndicated strip either (but it’s not for not trying ). I’m sure either way its a daunting task – in one you have to blaze the trail and in the other you have to keep from getting blazed by the trail!

Dawn – excellent tip for Mason on the character development for B.C. I know that some of the characters (like the fat lady) were caricatures of people Hart knew and they did drive the gags to a large extent. All the characters developed pretty identifiable personalities over the years and those traits should probably be preserved. There are enough different characters to make most gags work without being too confined, and I think that actually the characters tend to drive the gags in good ways (rather than confining) too. Spot on!

#64 Garey Mckee
@ 1:53 pm

Character driven writing takes time, especially when it seems Mason is just beginning to be comfortable with the characters. Knowing a character as one who reads and observes a strip is much different from knowing a character as one who writes and develops that character. It takes time, and I think you’ll see more character driven types of strips as Mason becomes more settled into BC. Mind you, I’m just conjecturing here.

#65 Chris H.
@ 2:22 pm

I’ve been following this discussion with great interest and now I finally feel as though I have something pretty worthwhile to contribute:

It seems to me that the fundamental problem with legacy strips (that is, passing them down to a new artist) is that there are simultaneous but conflicting pressures to be a lot like AND to be a lot different than the original creator’s style.

How so? Well, on the one hand there is the general readership, which doesn’t want a big change in the way the comic strip(s) they read everyday are presented. They don’t want huge dramatic changes in the way the characters behave, the kind of humor that is presented, and so forth. On the other hand, there’s a lot of people, such as many of us who post on this blog, that want the new creators to move forward with the strip’s concept — to be progressive and “make it their own” in some way.

While both sides have merit, keep in mind that while we here make good points, the majority of newspapers’ readerships are probably in the first group, who want to see it stay as much the same as possible. And because no one is exactly like Johnny Hart or Ernie Bushmiller or Chic Young or Brant Parker in their humor style or artistic style, they are under a lot of pressure to conform to that style. To be under the pressure to change the formula at the same time creates a huge conflict. Usually, because it is not their own feature, at first they are more likely to pander to the majority of newspaper readers than with people telling them to change the formula.

But should all of these legacy strips be changed? Some things, like “Peanuts,” should never be re-made by ANYBODY. But should it be re-run in countless newspapers? That’s still open for discussion.

And that’s good point, Dawn. Hart’s characters have always been rooted in strong personalities. (The fat lady especially!) Still, I think Mason is doing a really good job with just the gag-a-day format.

#66 Anne Hambrock
@ 3:08 pm

Chris, you make a lot of good points about changing a legacy strip and not changing it at the same time. The point I was trying to make earlier is that a family member may have a shorter learning curve than an outsider when it comes to maintaining the continuity that the general public wants.

#67 Rich Diesslin
@ 8:09 pm

H. is a funny last name. It’s almost like an initial. ;) Anyways, I think that folks in other writing industries, comic books, tv shows, etc. can write uniquely and in character at the same time and do it quite often. Some better than others. Anne is probably right on the learning curve issue, which should be a postive. I think if Mason gets inside the characters enough, is imagination and their “personalities” will guide his gag writing and it will be uniquely his own. I agree that there will be pressures, but it’s an huge opportunity rather than a problem (as I see it anyway).

Just for the sake of discussion – do you think that say the top 5 cartoonists could all switch cartoons for a week and no one would notice (at least in the writing)? (not a rhetorical question … so have at it if you think it’s worth speculating).

We’ve seen a few cartoonists spoof each others strips. I think if you can parody one, you can duplicate it (for a very short while … not long periods of time). On the other hand, if you were working with the characters for the long haul, is there any way to avoid them becoming uniquely your input to them?

Guy – are the Nancy characters now yours, or at least strongly under your influence (uniquely your spin on them vs. the other way around)?

#68 Guy Gilchrist
@ 8:21 pm

Yes, like it or not….it’s all me and my brother.

#69 Guy Gilchrist
@ 8:22 pm

Yes, like it or not….it’s all me and my brother. Oh…and way back on April 1st one year…Pat Brady drew Nancy for the day, and I did Foxtrot.

#70 Garey Mckee
@ 9:07 pm

Just a side note about Nancy. I like reading Nancy because the character design is such a throw back, consistant of course to the original. It’s interesting to read a strip with that sort of character design yet dealing with gags and stories set in the present day. Quite honestly, it’s that dichotomy that makes me read it. That’s part of the charm of the strip to me. I wonder if other readers feel the same way.

#71 Rich Diesslin
@ 12:04 am

Did anyone notice the switch (or was it known at the time)?

#72 Russ Nichols
@ 11:52 pm

Personally, I think the Christian references, the shadow of the cross and that sort of thing in the old BC strips was corny and a reduction of the Christian faith to bumper sticker status. I was raised a Christian in the Methodist church and have kind of fallen away. I still respect Christianity, at least the kind Jesus actually taught — not the Fallwell and Pat Robertson brand. And whenever I see a bumper sticker that says” God is Awsome” or “Jesus is King, Read the Bible”, it seems to me there is way more to faith and God and all of Creation than that bumper sticker even hints at. And I feel the same way about the references to Christianity in the BC comic strips. It’s a trivialization of the Christian message.

I suppose a lot of people could think I am wrong, but that’s the way I feel about it.

#73 Rich Diesslin
@ 1:11 pm

Russ, I agree gimmicky bumper sticks and campaigns are just that – gimmicks trying to interest people at a superficial level. I view Hart’s use more as a nod to God kind of gesture (a short inspiring message) … not attempting to explore the depths of faith like Batuik explored the depths of cancer (which, of course turned his comic strip into a soap opera strip and would never fly if the topic had been religion).

That being said, how is complacency in your faith any less superficial (or more deep) than the ad campaigns (or cartoons) you don’t like? How can you trivialize your faith any more than not practicing it or studying it?

#74 Chris H.
@ 7:34 pm

Rich wrote, “Just for the sake of discussion – do you think that say the top 5 cartoonists could all switch cartoons for a week and no one would notice (at least in the writing)? (not a rhetorical question â?¦ so have at it if you think itâ??s worth speculating).”

There’s another tricky question. I say that they could for a week, because even though they’ve never really written for the characters, and the characters aren’t theirs, they could still eke out that much material. But I doubt that they could switch for a month.

“Russ, I agree gimmicky bumper sticks and campaigns are just that – gimmicks trying to interest people at a superficial level. I view Hartâ??s use more as a nod to God kind of gesture (a short inspiring message) â?¦ not attempting to explore the depths of faith like Batuik explored the depths of cancer (which, of course turned his comic strip into a soap opera strip and would never fly if the topic had been religion).”

Well, “B.C.” has always been a gag-a-day strip, whereas it’s been a long time since “Funky” was one of those. Really, it is more of a soap opera strip now. So it can afford to explore those topics. But “B.C.” couldn’t without forgetting to have a punchline. And I think that maybe Hart sometimes went overboard with his religious references. I mean, it’s nice to reference your Christian feelings every now and then, but occasionally he would focus on it a bit too much. It is at that point that I feel it is becoming like a bumper sticker — something with a message that is undeniably there but will not win anyone over. (It’s not as though, say, a Muslim will read a religion-oriented “B.C.” strip and decide to convert. Or, back during the ’04 elections, I seriously doubt that anyone who supported Kerry saw a Bush bumper sticker and decided to change their allegiance.)

“H. is a funny last name. Itâ??s almost like an initial. ;)”
Oh, you have no idea…

#75 Rich Diesslin
@ 8:54 pm

Good point. I agree a few were over the top. Most weren’t and as a whole not all that many really even had religious references in them. The danger of bringing religion into it is that it has a stronger effect (both negative and positive). However, that’s the risk he took in doing it. Kind of like avoiding discussion of religion and politics at parties or family gatherings!

Anyway, should be interesting to see where Mason takes it. I’d say don’t hesitate if stays true to Hart and himself. If it’s just for tradition’s sake, Mason could get burned by using religious references. But if it also expresses things he’d like to share, then I say more power to him.

I also agree it would be hard to maintain some else’s style beyond about a week!

#76 Malc McGookin
@ 9:41 pm

The only positive thing I can say about Hart’s religious references is that they had a “stuff you” aspect to them. It was his strip, he had made his own religious jorney, and he felt he could use B.C. as an occasional pulpit.

Someone else, especially a young man, without Hart’s experience of the world, taking over Hart’s slot does not (in my opinion) have that right.

#77 Anne Frey
@ 5:34 pm

I’ve been reading BC for years on Saturdays and Sundays, the only days I subscribe to the local paper. I enjoy the humor and the occasional religious references. Your Sunday, November 25 strip “A Poem” touched me deeply. I wanted to let Johnny Hart know my feelings. In going online today, I see that he has passed away and the strip is now being done by his grandson Mason. So, Mason, I believe you share my feelings of “memories of loved ones lost that we are thankful for.” Thank you and keep up the good work.

#78 arlene diana-pasaje
@ 9:53 pm

greeeat… i’ve finally found and see the person behind B.C..
i just love B.C cartoons.. even got some of its comic books.
i was clammmmmmed after i unearthened a first copy of BC.
i always see to it that i am updated with what’s B.C is doing.
it inspires me.i am a editorial cartoonist/comic strip creator in a local daily here in Davao City..and part of my routine during lull periods at the air traffic control tower cab is to visit this website.just saying “hello” to my favest cartoon characters..
so..u are the man, mason…
b.c has made a difference in my life..and i don’t wish to tell the reason why..
thanks to great grandpa jhonny… and to you, mr. mason for being around.
ooohh…my two daughters adore B.C too…

#79 Jim Wertz
@ 8:29 am

I remember my first experience reading BC when I was in High School and I laughed so hard I was in tears. BC has given me many smiles over the year as I went thought the service, college and raising my daughter. Johnny will be missed and I am happy to see his grandson continue his work.

#80 Dan
@ 8:07 pm

BC has been one of my all time favorite cartoons, and I appreciate the way Johnny “wore his faith on his sleeves” and in his heart. I find it sad that some people are quick to criticize as if to lay claim to some kind of superior form of sincerity or wisdom when Jesus Christ Himself called us to be witnesses and not be ashamed of the Gospel.

I find it sad that so many Christians would curse and swear and speak coarsely twice as much as they share the Gospel if they ever share it at all.

I cannot see where some people come off acting as though it were the Christian’s duty to distance themselves from Christ in the presence of unbelievers. I have yet to see a bigger example of lying and hypocrisy and cowardice than to see a so-called Christian or even Christian leader who criticizes others for openly sharing his or her faith.

Jesus said whoever is ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of before His Father in heaven. A person who truly has Jesus in his or her heart will always wear that love on his or her sleeve and will always want others to hear the Gospel and be saved.

There are a lot of incompetent Christians who wear a very unfounded pride on their sleeves feeling entitled to unreasonable honor and respect, entitled to judge and tell others not to judge, who judge Christ unworthy of trust and obedience, who would rather let Him die for sinners in vain while they go through their lives with some faulty notion that they have their ticket to heaven and need do nothing more for the love of Christ or to help bring another person to salvation. I fear not one of them will make it to heaven without a drastic and complete change of heart. I don’t fear one of them will make it because they won’t.

That doesn’t mean we have to preach wherever we are. At work, we’re paid to deliver something — some work, some products, some services, and if we blow the company’s money and time on preaching and keeping others from doing their work, then we have cheated our employer, and that’s sin. And, yet, we are also called to work as unto the Lord, and the value of the souls around us is infinite in the heart of Christ or else He would not have shed His blood for them the way He did. So, while we need to do our work excellently as Johnny created excellent cartoons, we also need to be ready to be examined, to be searched, and to be ready to give an answer for the faith that is within us, and that cannot be done by being a lazy, cowardly, lying hypocrite who is ashamed to be seen with Christ. Who are we to be ashamed of the God of this universe? And if we trust and obey our cowardly fear of man, then who is our Lord anyway? Cowardice or Jesus Christ?

So, thank God Johnny set an example of sincerity by wearing his faith on his sleeve, and thank God for others who do likewise. That is what every sincere Chrisitan will always do. Others will cower away from that feeling that it will cramp their lifestyle. Perhaps they’re afraid of the heat, afraid to be held accountable, afraid to be called to give up sin, afraid. It’s time for people to be Christians or not.
It’s stupid to ride the fence.

#81 Dale Tibbett
@ 5:56 am


Let the SP’s rant and rave all they want. They’re gonna fry forever anyhow, have no doubts. Only suggestion I would make is to retro the character size. As a graphic designer myself, I find this change threatening to the strip’s composition in general. But please, under no circumstances, apply retro to popular culture. Mutt’n’Jeff gets a little irritating sometimes. ;o))

#82 Rick Stromoski
@ 7:45 am

Who let Pat Robertson in here?

#83 Jeff Stanson
@ 8:41 am

Pat’s not here Rick, and I’m glad he’s not. But Dan’s here, and from what Dan’s written here, Dan rocks. If you’re attempting to belittle Dan by calling him names, then I don’t think you should be here.

#84 Rick Stromoski
@ 9:28 am

My apologies Jeff, I thought this was a cartoonists forum not an evangelical pulpit. My mistake.

#85 Wiley Miller
@ 10:05 am

“BC has been one of my all time favorite cartoons, and I appreciate the way Johnny â??wore his faith on his sleevesâ? and in his heart.”

I wonder, Dan (no last name? read the rules for this forum, please), if you (and Jeff) would feel the same way about an Islamic cartoonist who “wore his faith on his sleeve” in a syndicated comic strip that started out and gained it’s popularity with material that had nothing to do with religion, then suddenly turned toward proselytizing Islam?

#86 Kaveh Soltani
@ 11:04 am

I wish you hadn’t chosen Islam as an example, Wiley.

Proselytizing is the demon here. Don’t fuel Danny Boy’s fire by giving him an easy target.

It’s already open season on Moslems.

#87 Wiley Miller
@ 11:11 am

“Itâ??s already open season on Moslems.”

Precisely the point. And it’s “Muslims”

#88 Kaveh Soltani
@ 11:57 am

“Muslim” is the westernized spelling of a word often mispronounced, Wiley. After a while, it’s easier for Moslems, such as myself, to go along with the “common” spelling (which is not the same as the more accurate spelling “Moslem”). “Moslem” is much closer to the correct pronunciation, at least in Persian.

I appreciate your attempt to make this correction, Wiley.
Most people adopt a whatever attitude.

#89 Wiley Miller
@ 1:05 pm

That’s very interesting, Kaveh. Thank you.
Here’s the dictionary definition (and spelling), which, of course is Western.

Muslim |Ë?mÉ?zlÉ?m; Ë?moŏz-| (also Moslem |Ë?mäzlÉ?m; Ë?mäs-|)
a follower of the religion of Islam.

of or relating to the Muslims or their religion.

ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from Arabic, active participle of ‘aslama (see Islam ).

USAGE Muslim is the preferred term for ‘follower of Islam,’ although Moslem is also widely used. The archaic term Muhammadan (or Mohammedan) should be avoided.

#90 Kaveh Soltani
@ 1:23 pm

I admire your open-mindedness, Wiley.

Persian Versus Farsi:

#91 Rich Diesslin
@ 5:02 pm

Wiley, in your example, if 85% of the readers were Islamic, then I don’t think it would be a problem. As has been discussed in the past, Hart didn’t hesitate to include his faith in his cartoons, but he didn’t do it all that often. So I think Dan exaggerates the impact.

#92 Dave
@ 7:05 pm

I used to love B.C. as a kid. It was my favorite. I bought all the books. I even had various versions of “Life is a 75¢ paperback” as the prices of paperbacks rose in price. The physical humor was the best, and I really liked the loose and fun drawing style. I even tried to pattern my cartooning style after Johnny Hart’s. I never made it to the funny pages, but had a few strips in various college papers.

I even appreciated Mr. Hart all the more as years later when his faith became more prominent in his strips.

So it was kind of sad NOT to see a Good Friday strip this year. I applaud your great capture of your grandfather’s style, Mason. The humor seems dead on to Mr. Hart’s style too. I just hope that if you are a believer too, that you’ll continue the tradition of celebrating Easter in the strips.

Great work capturing the drawing and humor tho.

#93 David Thurman
@ 7:15 pm

Firstly a huge thanks to all who have contributed to BC over the years. I’ve been buying BC comics since the early 70’s and reading them anywhere I could. Always good value. Wit was sharp and belly-laughs a plenty. I’m so glad the strip will continue with new content. Even if the content changes the feel of the strip over time, this is a good thing as many older ideas lose their funniness as the context they were part of, changes. I wish Mason all the best and hope he enjoys drawing BC for a long time. Go you good thing!!!

#94 Wiley Miller
@ 6:41 am

“Wiley, in your example, if 85% of the readers were Islamic, then I donâ??t think it would be a problem. ”

No, actually, whatever faith is in the majority has absolutely nothing to do with the question I asked.
But nice try at trying to divert attention away from Christian hypocrisy.

#95 Rich Diesslin
@ 9:59 pm

Wiley, true in the sense that your question was directed toward Dan’s opinion, not in general. However, in general my statement holds and has nothing to do with Christian hypocrisy. Hart adding a Christian slant to some of his cartoons (and very few at that) later in his career went over reasonably well. A cartoonist in an Islamic country who made the same change to an Islamic slant to their cartoon strip would probably go over reasonably well. It’s just about who is the predominant audience. I’m sure if BC was carried in an Islamic country’s paper, they’d drop it when it changed, and vice versa. That secularists would be offended by Hart’s religious strips isn’t hard to understand, but I’m sure since they aren’t hypocritical at all , that they would not want him to suppress his ideas even when they disagreed and thus would encourage him to continue.

BTW – Mason, the strip just seems to be getting better and better. Keep up the good work!

#96 Ikey Starks
@ 4:38 am

Well done, Mason!
Happy Easter.
“He is Risen!”
P.S. Keep up the good work.

#97 Wiley Miller
@ 6:33 am

First, let’s not make any mistake in that any cartoonist has every right to slant his or her cartoons toward their particular religious beliefs. This is the very essence of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. But there’s another side to that coin. Freedom of religion also entails freedom FROM religion. So while one has every right to espouse their faith publicly, so too do those who are put off by those beliefs have the right to voice their offense to proselytizing in a public forum, such as the comics page.

So while the right is reserved for anyone to promote their religious beliefs over all others, regardless of whether their religion is in the majority or not, they should whine and play the victim role (as they always do) when others who don’t share their beliefs say that religion is full of bunk. As Harry Truman said, if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

And, by the way, this country is not 85% Christian. Not even close. But whatever the majority religion happens to be is irrelevant in this discussion. Or do you think that only the majority should be given a pass on proselytizing?

#98 Rick Stromoski
@ 6:45 am

Johnny Hart was given a forum to express himself however he saw fit. I wouldn’t deny him the right to say whatever he wanted to in his strip. Personally nothing he did of a religious nature ever bothered me But I don’t think that it was only some secularists that were offended. I would say a good amount of Moslems and Jews took offense when JH took subtle swipes at their beliefs, but then again, I’m of the school of thought that nothing is sacred. What I do find bothersome is the idea that Evangelical proselytizing is required of Christians as stated in a post above.When it leaves the Churches where it properly belongs and then begins to inflict itself in public schools, government and the laws of the land then you’d expect a backlash.

“I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology..”

Thomas Jefferson

#99 shell
@ 7:20 am

I’m not a cartoonist, but I admire them. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have to come up with funny ideas all of the time for a comic strip, and I think it would be a lot of hard work.I always could count on Johnny Hart to make me laugh from the 70’s when I was a kid, until now. Whenever I opened a newspaper, I would always go to the comics section first, and read B.C.. If I was having a bad day, he’d cheer me up, and if it was a good day, he made it brighter and I would share his humor with my family and friends. I’m saddened by his passing, but very grateful his grandson is continuing on the comic strip, and I hope it continues for a long time. I’m not a professional,but the B.C. comics I’ve read in the papers until now are still keeping me laughing. Thank you Johnny, and thank you Mason! You must have loved him very much.

#100 shelley kelley
@ 7:42 am

sorry, I forgot to add my last name when I posted my comment. As a fan of B.C., I appriciate your work Mason. Am looking forward to seeing more of your work in the funny pages.

#101 Wiley Miller
@ 7:55 am

“I would say a good amount of Moslems and Jews took offense when JH took subtle swipes at their beliefs”

This is the difference between doing cartoons that are slanted toward one’s religious beliefs and proselytizing. Charles Schulz did many cartoons with a Christian theme, as has Bil Keane. None of their work, however, promoted their faith over others. When one proselytizes, as Johnny Hart did in his later years, you are pronouncing to those of other faiths that their religion is wrong and/or inferior. That is bound to offend those of other faiths or who hold no religious beliefs.

Religious slant and proselytizing is a fine line, but a very distinct one. And that’s the point I was trying to make with my question.

By the way, I was big fan of Johnny Hart’s work, which was ground breaking in his early years.

#102 Lloyd Wilson
@ 11:35 am

As a fan of BC and the Wizard for many years and a former salesman for American Greetings I have to say that you are faithful to the BC tradition. Great job. Keep up the good work. I start my day by checking in with BC.
You are a great artist and you have a wonderful family to back you in your creativity.l

Best regards,


#103 Rich Diesslin
@ 3:13 pm

“Religious slant and proselytizing is a fine line, but a very distinct one. And thatâ??s the point I was trying to make with my question.”

If that was your point, then we are probably closer to agreement than I would have guessed. I don’t think promoting one faith over another is appropriate on the comic pages. I don’t really recall any of JH’s that did, but there might have been a few that “crossed the line.” Do you think this Sunday’s BC crossed the line? I don’t, to me it was very general in it’s reference.

My point about religious slant is that it generally won’t be a problem in countries that are predominantly of the the same religion. It has nothing to do with hypocrisy, and everything to do with what most folks find acceptable or unacceptable. I don’t think a cartoonist automatically has a right to have their slant heard though their comics (freedom of speech does not mean they have to be granted a forum), so if they don’t get printed (at all or some strips withheld), that’s certainly up to the paper (and perhaps the public if they want to complain).

#104 jack corbett
@ 3:39 pm

I liked BC, but never read the religious strips. They remind me that I’m on a straight track for hell. Americans when asked, will say they are Christians, but much fewer than 85% know anything about the religion beyond Christmas and maybe Easter. I was the only GI in my army unit who selected ‘no preference’ for religion on my dogtags. Most guys choose what their parents professed. Yet I would guess that fewer than 5% attend church/ religious services. There was a higher percent of guys who never enjoyed the services of the B-girls who worked in local bars. (Some married men took their marriage vows seriously.)

#105 Wiley Miller
@ 4:08 pm

“My point about religious slant is that it generally wonâ??t be a problem in countries that are predominantly of the the same religion. ”

Apparently you’re not a devout Jew, or Muslim (Moslem) or any other faith (or non-faith) trying to raise kids in your faith (or non-faith). When you see such material being promoted in mainstream media, especially in the comics, validating the impression that one faith is more important than yours. Simply because the majority of the readers are of that faith is irrelevant and runs contrary to the very freedoms this country was founded on. Indeed, the oppression of the majority religion over others is the very thing so many sought to escape by coming to America.

Have you ever seen how Blacks used to be portrayed in comics? Seems pretty vile to us now, doesn’t it. But that “wasn’t a problem” because we’re a predominantly White country.

Religious beliefs are a private matter, every bit as private as your sex life. You have the right to air it, but don’t get all bent out of shape when we don’t want to read it. And simply because it’s within the majority doesn’t make acceptable.

#106 Malc McGookin
@ 5:20 pm

What gives me great faith in the future of the USA is not the pronouncements of the Christian right, whether on this board or in the broader community, it’s the advance of secularism, something that is unavoidable and inevitable if a nation would claim to be a true democracy.

Basically, since 9/11 America has rejected fundamentalism in all its forms, including within Christianity.

You cannot get up on your hind legs and criticize the veiling of women or the various looneytune aspects of Sharia law whilst simultaneously claiming that the world was created in seven days a mere few thousand years ago, and that dinosaur bones were planted by the devil to throw everyone off the scent.

Nor can you point the finger at Imams and inflammatory Rabbis whilst accepting the Book Of Mormon or the pronouncements of the Pope as holy writ.

The Western world (USA included) is saying “right, EVERYone out of the courts and public schools, we can’t find any more room on the mantlepiece for all your gewgaws and nick nacks, so none of you gets to put anything up there. Keep your religion at home or at your place of worship”.

Basically, Johnny Hart had the ability (not the right) to put his nick nacks on display every now and then. The Christian right had no problem with it, but as Wiley mentioned, if a Muslim cartoonist decided to insert a tribute to Mohammed into one of his strips, the same people would be outraged.

It’s my opinion that religion (as practised by the major faiths) is bunk, and I’m greatly gratified that more and more people are coming round to that view.

#107 Rich Diesslin
@ 11:03 pm

Wiley, based on your own definition and argument “This is the difference between doing cartoons that are slanted toward oneâ??s religious beliefs and proselytizing. Charles Schulz did many cartoons with a Christian theme, as has Bil Keane. None of their work, however, promoted their faith over others.” Suggests to me that you don’t have a problem with the religious slant and can see my point even though you’ll never concede it.

Malc, the US is not a democracy, it’s a representative republic – just FYI. In a true democracy you might not like a pure majority rule. In terms of whether more are “coming around” to your point of view … perhaps, but probably not as quickly as you would like. In the meantime, it might be wise to be open to a perspective of religious pluralism that attempts to find the points of agreement of most faiths (of which there are many). A dialog is good and working together on common projects also helps build bridges and tolerance for each other. Heck you guys like to preaching diversity but you seem to me to be totally intolerant of religious people (except Rick, of course, who does humanitarian projects with his Baptist friends). Of course, you’ll say you’re just intolerant of intolerance, but I’m not buying it.

#108 Russ Banush
@ 4:49 am


#109 Rick Stromoski
@ 5:01 am

>>> Heck you guys like to preaching diversity but you seem to me to be totally intolerant of religious people (except Rick, of course, who does humanitarian projects with his Baptist friends)

I think you’re confusing “religious people” with the “actions” of religious people who insist on inflicting their beliefs on others…there’s an enormous difference.

“State Churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on others undermine all our civil rights… Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state, therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society”
-Thomas Jefferson

#110 Wiley Miller
@ 6:44 am

What Rick said.
And Rich, you need to read my entire post. You still seem to be stuck on the notion that it’s ok to inflict your religious mythology on others as long as you’re in the majority. And then you call for tolerance of those views?

#111 Alan Gardner
@ 7:33 am

State Churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on others undermine all our civil rightsâ?¦ Erecting the â??wall of separation between church and state, therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society

The United States does not have a state church. Mexico’s state church is the Catholic church and many other nations have an official church. Jefferson wasn’t saying that we should be a godless society – just one that doesn’t have an state religion.

#112 Rick Stromoski
@ 7:45 am

>>Jefferson wasnâ??t saying that we should be a godless society – just one that doesnâ??t have an state religion.


Religion should stay in the churches, synagogues, and mosques where it belongs. It doesn’t belong in our schools, our science textbooks, our laws, our money, our state and federal capital buildings or as an issue as to the electability of our political candidates.

â?? …no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

The United States Constitution Article VI, section 3,

#113 Jef Hubbard
@ 8:41 am

I have been a “BC” fan for over 40 years now, pretty much as long as I have known how to read. The characters in the strip, as well as Johnny Hart himself, have been lifelong friends to me and I was deeply saddened at Johnnys death. It was if a member of my own family had passed, even though I had never met him in person. When the strips continued coming out, I was afraid they were only an archive of strips not yet published. When I finally noticed the name “Mason” in the corner, I was pleasantly suprised to realize that there was very little difference. I think that Mr. Masroianni and the rest of Johnnys family have combined together to make the “BC” legacy live on the way Johnny would have done himself. I’m sure he’s proud. And I hope I can continue to be a “BC” fan for at least another 40 years. Thank you, Mason Mastroianni, and all the rest of you wonderful folks.

#114 Rich Diesslin
@ 10:01 am

Wiley and Rick, I now realize that there is no way for either of you to be objective on the subject. You confuse me with someone that is trying to inflict my religious views on others, when in fact you should look in the mirror.

Jef, I agree, Mason seems do be doing an excellent job.

#115 John Jenkins
@ 2:44 pm

Great work, Mr Mastroianni. You’re obviously meant to be doing this. No need to tell you to keep going, just to say that I’ll be reading as long as you’re (co-)writing and drawing.

Shelley Kelley – I’m using your comment as the basis for my mission statement while I continue to work on my own strip submission. Your insight is much appreciated. Thank you.

#116 Jerry Cline
@ 6:21 am

Thanks for the heads up on what is happening with a strip I’ve read “like forever!” ;-]
The article provides interesting insight that gives the strip legs, which will help me to better appreciate the future of the strip.

Uhmm… You may want to re-read this sentence:
“Mason says he doesnâ??t take it those drops personally as he understands there will be a transition time, but he is determined to prove to those that keep him that they wonâ??t regret giving him a shot.”

I see an “it” that does not fit. I’m reminded of a rhyme I learned ~60+ years ago and until now have not even thought of like forever…
“Railroad crossing look out for the cars.
How do you spell it without any R’s.”

I am envious of your collective and cooperative abilities.
Good luck to all who make the strip a working piece of history… and uhm.. future.


#117 jack nunes
@ 10:18 am

I just want to say how glad I am that the cartoon is continuing. I have read these since the late 50’s. I see the daily cartoons on line since our so called newspaper “The Sacramento Bee” only uses the Sunday cartoons. Their loss. Any way, keep up the great work, I like it!

#118 John Steve Adler
@ 11:08 am

BC continues to be one of my daily staples in comic strip reading. Mason and the team are very good. I really like the transitions I have seen over the last 40 years as cartoonists keep the strips going and up to date. Thanks again to all for the daily humor and up lift. Steve

#119 Marilyn Abbott
@ 6:52 am

I’ve been a fan of B.C. for years, our paper no longer carries it, so I go on the internet to read it each day.

#120 Jeff Anderson
@ 11:09 pm

I’m very happy that somebody can fill it in biggest shoes of greatest artist that have need good talent like Mason took over his grandfather’s handcraft of artworks. That’s pieces of works from Johnny Hart. We all love Johnny Hart and his artworks that we never forget it. Mason,Go for it. You’re the Man can do your grandfather’s footsteps. Keep continues of your works. someday u and Jeff Parker might tag team to work together thought be great team.
Carry it on,Mason and doing great job.

#121 Kellen Donovan
@ 7:18 am

Excellent!From a person that can’t draw a lick,butloves a great cartoon for the fun!All the best Mason and best of luck with future endevours.

#122 Paul Johnson
@ 11:13 am

To continue the work Johnny did is an awesome responsibility, and to do it as well as Mason is an awesome accomplishment. I am sure there are times Mason must look “upward” and wonder if his gradfather approves. I am certain he does. Keep up the good work, Mason.
And as far as the critics who do not like the idea of Christian themes I find it fascinating they will ALWAYS criticize Christianity and its influence/impact and its message. Yet, have a cartoon series that promotes another religion and puts down Christianity and they are remarkably silent. For Pab Sungenis and others who do not appreciate the Christian cartoons but do appreciate the non-Christian cartoons, enjoy those and leave the others for us who do.
All the best to the Hart family.

#123 Kaycee Emilienburg
@ 4:56 pm

I have read with interest that Mason is Mr. Hart’s grandson and I read with hope that he is, like his grandfather before him, a Christian as am I. It does temper my angst at several recent strips I find to be offensive. Perhaps the middle school teacher in me is too sensitive to some of what others might profess is just silliness, but I have been compelled to wonder aloud if Johnny Hart isn’t “rolling over in his grave” at the aforementioned strips. The one where the snake eats the rat who has just saved the snake’s life is particularly offensive to me because it flies in the face of God’s grace and mercy. The one where the dog Spot buries the rubber gloves and the one where the rats get into the tomato and “raisen” soup are too gross to be silly to me. I welcome insight, Mason, into what you are trying to do in strips like these. The grandmother in me now wants to give you some space to justify what I find to be humor much beneath the standards set by your anointed grandfather. I have been a fan of B.C. for decades and I do not wish to avert my eyes when I reach the part of the page where your strip now resides. Please keep me a fan by adjusting some of your intent, or at least reconsider how it will impact some of us older readers. I am known by my great sense of humor, inherited from both of my parents, but some of what you write escapes me. Please educate my ignorance, Mason. I am open to your perceptions. Sincerely, Kaycee

#124 Pab Sungenis
@ 7:05 pm

Kaycee: while you and I are on different sides of the “more Christian content in B.C.” debate, I would point out one thing.

In the strip you objected to, with the snake eating the rat, could it be you aren’t interpreting the message correctly? After all, it could be argued that since the snake is a symbol of Satan, as best personified in Genesis, the strip could be seen as saying “don’t trust the Devil?”

Sometimes the best way to get a message across is subtlety.

#125 Malc McGookin
@ 5:33 am

What do you know? The God botherers are having to avert their eyes! Mason must be doing something right.

#126 r stevens
@ 5:04 pm

“I am known by my great sense of humor,”

The wording of that comes off as how a mob boss or dictator would say it, right before executing a rival for a joke they didn’t like.

#127 Malc McGookin
@ 5:54 pm

Seriously, some complaint letters are just hilarious. At first I thought it was someone taking the mickey, but no satirist can make that funny/creepy stuff up.

#128 Malc McGookin
@ 6:01 pm

Oops, I forgot to add;
The image you get, reading Mr Emilienburg’s letter, is not of a Christian but of a bearded and robed Imam like Khomeini, issuing edicts whilst sitting in a room of cushions.

In truth, Christians like Mr E and the mad Mullahs are as different as moose and elk, i.e. they’re are the same animal on different continents.

#129 Eric Burke
@ 6:54 pm

“The Mad Mullahs”…what a great name for a rock band!

I am known by my great sense of humor…
This reads like the opening line of a personals ad. Do people really talk like this? Who spends time describing themselves like this? sheesh. Tacky…

#130 Rich Diesslin
@ 11:54 pm

Kaycee, I have to admit that I thought the snake and rat cartoon was a little bit harsh too, but it did remind me of an old Johnny Rivers song (entitled something like “sighed the snake”) whose moral was a snake is always a snake. As the song goes a woman saves a snake from freezing to death; after it warms up by the fire it bites her, she is astonished and wants to know why the snake is killing her after she saved it; but the snakes defense is “hey, you knew I was a snake before you took me in.” Not exactly the thorn in the lion’s paw story ;)

There have also been a few I didn’t get or didn’t think were particularly funny, but overall I’m impressed with how well Mason has stepped in. Many of the cartoons are fresh and funny and have given the strip some zip. Realize that not every cartoon a cartoonist does is going to hit you the same way … meaning don’t let a few bad ones turn you off a strip that you generally like.

#131 Art Kennedy
@ 1:41 pm

Today’s (5/4) strip with the snake on the fat broad’s head is just flat hilarious slap stick. Long loud laugh. Thanks I needed that!

#132 K Hayes
@ 8:44 am

Speaking of “spinning”, Johnny Hart must be spinning in his grave.

#133 Rob Steele
@ 12:15 am

I have enjoyed reading these e mails. I read B.C. since the sixties. I also enjoyed Wizard of Id. I think Mason is doing a great job since taking over the strip. I always enjoyed Johnny’s little sidelines into Christianity. Maybe just to show Christians have a sense of humor and it is o.k. to remind people that Christianity is relevant and that faith is part of everyday life as humor is. Keep doing a great job Mason.

#134 Rob Steele
@ 12:26 am

I have found this discussion board really interesting. First I love the discussions on the hidden meanings. This is true freedom of speech. Next, I really don’t think your should be looking for hidden meanings in Mason’s drawings. I think he just like a good laugh. When I last looked this was a cartoon strip not C.S. Lewis’ Tales of Narnia or Screw Tape letters. Have fun Mason. Never be afraid to stir up the pot and half the fun is offending and stirring up those who have an ax to grid, the narrow minded and the so called liberal minded who are so broad minded they are flat headed.

#135 Gary Paschke Sr.
@ 8:14 am

I wish we still had B.C. back in the Indianapolis Star. Our paper keeps the redundant jokes of Marmaduke but drops “strips” with fresh perspectives, relavant subjects and no fear of God being revered and referenced. Please keep up the great work your Grandfather started.

God Bless you and your family.


#136 Gary Sherman
@ 3:04 pm

The silliness is what I love about B.C. Groaner puns, absurd events, a bit of slapstick. Still one of my favorites.

#137 Ruddie
@ 6:41 pm

A sound mind in a sound body is a short but full description of a happy state in this world.

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