Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bye Johnny, Bye Brant.

Johnny Hart, the man who gave us B.C. and who with Brant Parker wrote The Wizard of ID died on April 7th.

Many felt that the strip had lost its way in recent years and was no longer relevant. It is certainly true that after thirty odd years of reading them, I was less inclined to seek them out than the more recent strips and cartoons.


Back in 1976 or thereabouts I spotted a The Wizard of ID strip on the wall of Skid Row, the cocktail bar above Captain America's Hamburger Heaven in Norwich, England and was hooked. After leaving University I began collecting the paperback books of both strips, eagerly searching bookstores for the ones I was missing. I vividly remember that B.C. #8, the one with the origin of Grog in it, was particularly hard to find and the pleasure I got from it when I finally did track it down. The collection of both B.C. and The Wizard of ID ran to over thirty volumes before other interests crowded them out of the budget. I still have every one.

Classic incidents in the strips live on in many people's heads. The "Clams Got Legs" fiasco. Thor's invention of the Choo-Choo. The inevitable results of selecting "I Don't Know" as the password when The King of ID's castle was surrounded by Huns. Roll call in Robbing Hood's encampment. The first meeting with the newly-thawed Grog.

On April 15th, Brant Parker died.

I have no idea how well the work will survive. It would be nice to think that each strip would get its own "complete collection" treatment as one or two others have in the last four or five years. Until then:

A Soldier: What's the password for tonight?
Sir Rodney: "I don't know"
Next Morning:
The King: Good grief! The courtyard is full of huns! How on earth did that happen?
Sir Rodney: "I don't know"

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