Checker to Release BC Collection

Checker Books will release Johnny Hart’s GrowinGold with B.C.: A 50 Year Celebration in September. Press release follows:

With the recent passing of the great cartoonist, Johnny Hart’s GrowinGold with B.C. is a lasting tribute to a body of work that encompassed over five decades and garnered many awards over the years. Hart, himself, had worked on the book up until his untimely passing over the 2007 Easter weekend. He had personally selected the nearly 500 cartoon strips of B.C. that comprise the book and provided the original cover art. Hart also provided never-before-seen concept art from the strip’s beginnings in the 1950’s and gave insight as to how the characters were named (usually after family friends).

GrowinGold with B.C. cover
GrowinGold with B.C.
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Johnny Hart’s GrowinGold with B.C. is released with the valuable assistance and total cooperation of the Hart Family. Starting with the strip’s earliest beginning, in 1958, to the present, 2007, these strips will delight anyone who has followed the antics of Peter, Thor, Fat Broad, Wiley and all the rest of the cast in a prehistoric world populated by dinosaurs, ants and anteaters. Using a combination of bad puns and subtle humor with a simplistic drawing style, B.C. was one of the longest running strips still being written and drawn by its original creator. The strip is still carried in over 1300 newspapers across the country and read by millions of readers each day.

According to Creative Syndicate, B.C. and Johnny Hart have won multiple awards, including Best Humor Strip in America, National Cartoonist Society, 1967; The Reuben, Cartoonist of the Year, National Cartoonist Society, 1968; The Yellow Kid Award, International Congress of Comics, 1970; and the Seger Award, King Features, 1981.

Comprehensively collected for the first time, Johnny Hart’s GrowinGold with B.C. is trade paperback, with each strip produced in its original size. (A limited-run hardcover edition will also be available at a later date.)

The Checker Book Publishing Group, in Dayton, Ohio, is committed to publishing dormant, unpublished, and under-published serial comics and cartooning in affordable editions.

I like that phrasing, “dormant serial comics”. I’ve heard tell that BC, once upon a time, was a hip, creative strip; the BC I know is an occasionally ham-handed proselytizing vehicle. If one book is able to cover both of those and more, it’ll be an achievement.

11 Responses to “Checker to Release BC Collection”

  1. Dave Lartigue Says:

    How ironic that they chose a play on the classic illustration of evolution for the cover.

  2. Ed Sizemore Says:

    Johanna, is BC any more ham-fisted than Doonesbury, Non-Sequitur or For Better or for Worst? My impression is that Hart gets more flak because his agenda was conservative and religious than those whose agenda is liberal and political. Honestly, I think the most ham-fist comic strip is Doonesbury and he doesn’t get half the grief.

    Dave, you bring up an interesting point. Does anyone know what Hart’s views were regarding evolution after his conversion? Believe it or not I know a few conservative Christians who support evolution. I wonder if Hart was also in that camp.

  3. Dan Coyle Says:

    People didn’t mind BC’s ham-fisted-ness until Hart did that 2001 Easter strip with the Menorah transforming into a cross. That got a lot of people nervous.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Ed, it may be that BC stands out because its premise of cavemen contrasts so badly with the Christian preaching. I’ve never seen FBOFW preach to the extent that BC does.

  5. David Oakes Says:

    I don’t think BC stands out for being “Christian” cavemen. Even before Hart was born again he had Wiley writing about Christmas and nobody cared. (Though I have to admit even at age 10 I noticed the perhaps unintentional humour in the situation.)

    FBOW is preachy, but mostly in a feel-good, “can’t we all just get along” sort of way. BC seemed often mean-spirited, as embodied by the “I*SLAM/Something stinks” strip. Heck, Peanuts almost defines the modern image of Christmas, but nobody faults Schultz for that, because he seems honestly “pro-Christ” and not “Anti-Everybody else”.

    Doonesbury is over the top, but he is also likely to laugh at geeks an hippies as well as Republicans. And more importantly, Doonesbury has (naerly) always been a political strip. You knew what you were getting into from the begining, instead of growing up with Broad jokes and clams, and then suddenly being confronted with orthodoxy. Imagine one day Blondie is not just working out of the home, but has become a Militant Feminist. Even if you agreed with her views, you might find the shift a bit abrupt.

    But mostly, except for the two strips – “Menorah/Cross”, “I*SLAM” – I don’t recall Hart really getting much flack at all. Sure, everyone would bring up one or both when his name was mentioned, but it’s not like he had been religated to the OP/ED pages and perrenially villified like Trudeau. It seems more a tempest in a teapot, not even up to the levels of “White Christians sulk realizing they no longer rule the world” you usually get from this sort of thing. It was a non-issue.

  6. Ed Sizemore Says:

    David, I disagree. Every reflection of Hart’s death I read included some disclaimer about not liking his ‘fundamentalism’. It seems like a requirement among journalistic or pundits that you had to denounce Hart for his religious views before you could say anything possible about his comedic ability. I bearly read any mention of Schultz’s religious views in similar rememberances. Also the LA Times and a few other papers ran Hart’s Easter strips in the editoral section of the paper. But I guess it’s a matter of perspective. As a fellow evangelical Christian, I saw a lot of what Hart wrote as simply Biblical truth without the sugar coating so prevalent in modern America. I saw him as straight forward and not ham-fisted.

    As for Trudeau, we will have to agree to disagree. I think Trudeau deserves all the grief he gets and then some.

  7. Nat Gertler Says:

    Schulz did very little pitching of religious views in Peanuts. Get outside of the “true meaning of Christmas” in something that was specifically a Christmas special, and a storyline about religious camp where he came out against end-of-times preaching, and what you’re left with is largely allegorical moments. (He did some work for religious publications that went further, but even that was generally not proselytizing. You can read this material in the upcoming book Schulz’s Youth — and you should read it, and I say that as a totally biased and involved party!)

  8. Ed Sizemore Says:

    Nat, I already have the book on order through Previews. I’m trying to get all of Schulz’s cartoons. I really enjoy seeing his work outside of Peanuts. Thanks for the recommendation.

  9. Johanna Says:

    Ed, let’s clarify: the obits I saw didn’t say they disliked Hart’s beliefs, but the way he expressed those beliefs. And I have to agree, because they sure didn’t seem to me to reflect Jesus’ Golden Rule.

  10. Greg Morrow Says:

    I swear that the first ten years or so of B.C. were actually interesting and funny. (My dad had the paperbacks.)

    It is the case that I haven’t read them in probably twenty years or more, and so I may have aged past liking them.

  11. Dan Coyle Says:

    I dunno, even in recent years the comic was good for a smileworthy one-liner, though that may be just contrasting it against the REALLY unfunny strips out there.

    Like Funky Winkerbean! Hey, guess what? Lisa’s cancer isn’t in remission! They made a mistake!




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