Friday, 5 October 2012

B.C - Another Page out of History

There's no denying at all that Johnny Hart is, was and still is one of the greatest comic strip artists that lived. His surreal comedy and fun drawing style for his comic strip, B.C, just seem to beg to be animated - in particular his Sunday strips, which feel like you're observing the storyboards for a cartoon short. Anyone who could get so much mileage from a prehistoric setting for nearly 50 years must obviously have a very strong gift for humour. From cavemen to various animals, every character in the strip just seem to leap off the page while you're helpless with giggles.

That is why I feel, out of all the comic strips and comic books brought to animation, Johnny Hart's B.C just had it too short. Surviving today from ageing VHS cassettes by two sole specials and a series of commercials, including those for Action Corps. Personally speaking, while they're all fantastic each in their own way, I think The First Thanksgiving truly nailed it in terms of bringing Johnny's characters and wild humour to the small screen - all thanks to, among others, Abe Levitow's streamlined direction and vocal talents from Daws Butler, Don Messick, Bob Holt and Joanie Sommers. A Special Christmas, which focused a tad more on the religious / seasonal aspect, didn't have as much energy as the former but still maintained many of Hart's wit and wisdom.

All the same, going by the care and quality of the above, it was evident that there was still steam in the old stone wheel yet. Rather a shame because I felt there might have been so much more that B.C could have brought to the animation table.

And unlike the endless list of Peanuts Specials and TV Seasons (Sorry Schultz, Sorry Melendez!), Hart - and co-writer Jack Caprio - at least created wholly original material than reusing the same gags strip-from-strip. Just sayin'...

Johnny Hart passed away in 2007, but his characters and legacy live on thanks to grandsons Mason and Mick Mastroianni and Hart's daughter Perri, who also draw Hart's other famous strip "Wizard of Id". Say what you like about their handling of both strips, but they still make me laugh as hard as Johnny ever did. Besides, it still pays to have family or friends who know what to do with someone else's creation than those who don't...


1 comment:

  1. At least the legacy lives on, interesting they can manage to produce three strips daily.