Dead People

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No Cheers Today

« April 2007 »

Today, I'd like to take a moment to discuss B.C. creator Johnny Hart, who passed away over the weekend. I think this may mark an important moment in this column - the first person to pass away after being "featured" in You Are Dumb.

Oh, sure, lots of dead people have appeared in these pages, but it's usually the circumstance of their deaths that causes them to appear here. Which leads to a fun fact you can share at dinner parties - it's at least one thing that John Paul II and Kenneth Pinyan have in common. Let's hope it was just that one thing.

But Johnny Hart... Johnny Hart was one of the very first targets of the column, back in the days when columns didn't even have snappy titles, just the subject up top in bold. He got in not for being a born-again, which he was, or being a dick about it, which he frequently was, but for being Old White Guy Racist and thinking it was funny.

And now he's dead. Had a stroke right before Easter. Which is strangely ironic, because for years I've had to take pains not to read B.C. right before Easter, because I know it'd give me a fucking stroke.

But that's all in the past now. Each death diminishes us, as they say. Oh, sure, thirty seconds later they're backpedaling on Hitler and Pol Pot, but still, let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Each death diminishes us, and it would be unseemly to cheer Johnny Hart's death just because he produced two comic strips (Wizard of Id {shudder}) of heart-rending inanity and filled at least one of those strips with frequent exhortations about how his invisible sky daddy was the bestest invisible sky daddy of them all.

We will not cheer Johnny Hart's death. Because it would be wrong. Because it would be unseemly. And most importantly of all, because of this. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Richard Newcombe, founder and president of Creators Syndicate said 'B.C.' and 'Wizard of Id' would continue. Family members have been helping produce the strips for years, and they have an extensive computer archive of Hart’s drawings to work with, he said." - Associated Press

SWEET FUCKING ZOMBIE JESUS CAVEMEN. The comics page is like some kind of horrific feudal landscape, and the Hart family will not give up its eighteen square inches so long as one single member of the bloodline remains to cut and paste digitized Fat Broads under awful puns.

And so, what little meaning or solace we all could take from Hart's death is snatched from our grasp. Who knows? Maybe newspapers, bereft of two standards they put on their comic pages pretty much by default since the 1960s might have used that space for a couple of new strips. Maybe ones that contained jokes from either of the past two centuries. But no. The Hart family has PhotoShop, and if Newcomb's tacit admission was to be believed, have been writing most of the retarded fake dictionary entries for years anyway.

Life is fleeting. Comedy is hard. But even though Johnny Hart was wrong about the nature of the universe and the role of a deity in it, he's still managed to assure himself an afterlife. Because franchises are eternal, blessed be thy copyright.

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