A comic at ‘Hart’
Interview with cartoonist Johnny Hart
Dinosaurs, dictionaries, and dental floss. Pizzas, ‘prehistoric’ animals, and post offices ... Evolutionists may not believe that all these existed alongside early humans, but that doesn’t stop multi–award–winning cartoonist Johnny Hart from putting them in his comic strip titled B.C., which is enjoyed by more than 100 million readers world-wide.
Johnny’s B.C. characters live in a world where dinosaurs rush to get ready for Noah’s Ark, where ‘primitive’ people give thanks to God before their meals, and where cave–men philosophers discuss creation and evolution.
Johnny can’t remember when he first introduced creation/evolution themes into his comic strips. But as a Bible–believer he doesn’t accept evolution.
‘I believe the Bible is the Word of God,’ he said, ‘and I see all the foolishness in evolution theory. The main thing of course is that evolutionists have never come up with one indisputable piece of evidence. The top one is the “missing link?”. Something is always missing. The absurdity of it all is beyond reason.’
A few evolutionists have angrily written to him to say evolution is the only explanation for why we are here. However, when his strips on creation/evolution and other Bible themes appear, he mostly receives ‘lots of nice letters’ from people pleased to see him speaking out against ‘such foolishness’.
He has several books on the creation/evolution issue, including The Genesis Solution by Ken Ham and Paul Taylor.
Johnny Hart has been receiving major cartoonist awards spanning almost 30 years. Yet B.C. was rejected by five syndicates before it was accepted. He invented the characters for B.C. and The Wizard of Id (his other highly successful comic strip, which he does with Brant Parker) shortly after he finished high school.
‘Brant began drawing cartoons for the local newspaper while I was in high school. I entered an art contest which he was asked to judge. He was fascinated by my work, and we got along really great together.’
Brant, who had worked for the Disney Corporation, began prodding Johnny to become a cartoonist, and finally Johnny came up with the idea for B.C. It became hugely successful. Four years later he thought up the idea for The Wizard of Id, and asked Brant if he would do the drawing for it if Johnny came up with the gags. They have worked together successfully since.
Most of Johnny’s strips are simply meant to make people feel better. He doesn’t see himself as a crusader, but occasionally he does inject some poignant analysis of subjects he feels strongly about.
One of his cartoons that featured on the notice board in the lunchroom at Creation magazine headquarters was an anti–abortion cartoon about the abortion pill RU486. Johnny’s comment was ‘RU486—Are you for stiffing the kid?’
He received flak from abortionists over it—‘telling me what an idiot I was’—but the cartoon was popular with pro–lifers.
Johnny tells an interesting story about how he came to the Lord.
‘Salvation? The reason Jesus died? Grace? These are things I didn’t know. The first thing had to be—which is exactly what you guys [at Creation magazine] are doing—to be convinced that the Bible is the Word of God.’
He had moved with his wife Bobby to a town called Nineveh in New York— ‘A little, one–horse town up above Binghamton’. One day he bought a satellite dish for their house and another for his studio.
‘These guys were out here wiring up for a couple of weeks, and they were born-again Christians. They used Christian TV as a test pattern, so every time I walked through the room in which they were wiring up a TV set, I’d see this and say, “Is that the only thing we are going to get?”
‘They’d say, “Oh, we’re sorry.” And I’d say, “Just kidding.” So I was listening to the preaching coming from the TV set and eventually became fascinated by it. One day my wife said, “Do you want to go to church?” I said, “Certainly.” Now we teach Sunday school and do all sorts of things. I have a lot of fun drawing for the children.’
Where does Johnny get ideas to feed 1,100 newspapers daily with his comic strips?
‘I have help. Two of my friends are very funny guys. You surround yourself with people who amuse you. And our big thing is humour. These guys were very inventive and creative, and I turned them into gag–writers.’
What advice does he have for budding young cartoonists?
‘Draw, draw, and draw. Things are getting tougher all the time, so you have to be good to make it. But pray that your work will be accepted, and then send it in. And go out and buy a new suit of clothes ...’
UPDATE: Johnny Hart passed away in 2007.
ROBERT DOOLAN was the editor of Creation magazine for 10 years and an occasional contributor. He worked as senior editor with a major educational organization. Return to top.