Art Teacher News

This is an art news blog of the Incredible Art Department.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More Cartoonists Pass Away

The year 2007 seems to be a sad year for cartoon lovers. On April 15, cartoonist Brant Parker passed away at the age of 87. Brant was the cartoonist for the Wizard of Id. Coincidently, the writer of the same comic strip, Johnny Hart, died about a week earlier. Below is a picture and short biography of Brant.

Brant Parker's son, Jeff, continues drawing the strip as his father retired a decade ago. "My father will be dearly missed," said Jeff Parker. "Sharing the passion of cartooning with my father was a great gift. It has been a privilege to pass this joy along to others as we continue 'The Wizard of ID.'"

"Brant was a truly innovative mind in the comics world," said Creators Syndicate President Richard S. Newcombe. "The artistry he displayed in 'The Wizard of Id' was remarkable for its consistency and creativity. I join millions of 'Wizard' fans in giving thanks to Brant for being an inspiration to comic strip artists around the world for so many years."

Brant and his longtime friend and collaborator Johnny Hart started "The Wizard of Id" in 1964, and Brant won the National Cartoonists Society's (NCS) Best Humor Strip award a record five times, including back-to-back years in 1982-83. In 1984, he also won The Reuben Award, which is the NCS's highest honor.

In 1987, Brant's son Jeff Parker began working with Brant on the strip, serving under his tutelage for the next decade. In 1997, Brant passed the torch to Jeff, who took over production of "The Wizard of Id" full time. Jeff has been entertaining "Wizard" fans with his own wit and artistic flair ever since.


The Creators Syndicate family mourns the passing of Brant Parker on Sunday at the Privette Home in Lynchburg, Va. Parker joined fellow cartoonist Johnny Hart on the groundbreaking comic strip "The Wizard of Id" and was its artist for many years, before his retirement a decade ago.

In addition to Jeff, Brant is survived by his wife, Mary Lou, and his other children, James Parker, Julie Shackleton, Laurie Tannenbaum and Kathie Borkowski, his brother, John Parker, 13 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brother Ted, and two grandchildren, Amy Clemens and Patrick Borkowski.

A memorial service is planned for Wednesday, April 18, at 11 a.m., at St. Mark's Catholic Church in Vienna, Va.

Johnny Hart's Passing

As I mentioned earlier, Johnny passed away a little over a week before Brant on April 7 at the age of 76. In addition to writing the Wizard of Id strip, he was the artist and writer of B.C. As a Christian, Johnny became controversial because he shared his faith and religious beliefs in the strip. Johnny upset the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, among others. The liberal Los Angeles Times has refused to run his cartoons with an explicitly Christian message the past four years.


ALBANY, New York (AP) -- Cartoonist Johnny Hart, whose award-winning "B.C." comic strip appeared in more than 1,300 newspapers worldwide, died Saturday while working at his home in Endicott, New York. He was 76.

"He had a stroke," Hart's wife, Bobby, said Sunday. "He died at his storyboard."

"B.C.," populated by prehistoric cavemen and dinosaurs, was launched in 1958 and eventually appeared in more than 1,300 newspapers with an audience of 100 million, according to Creators Syndicate Inc., which distributes it.

"He was generally regarded as one of the best cartoonists we've ever had," Hart's friend Mell Lazarus, creator of the "Momma" and "Miss Peach" comic strips, said from his California home. "He was totally original. 'B.C.' broke ground and led the way for a number of imitators, none of which ever came close."

After he graduated from Union-Endicott High School, Hart met Brant Parker, a young cartoonist who became a prime influence and co-creator with Hart of the "Wizard of Id" comic strip.

Hart enlisted in the Air Force and began producing cartoons for Pacific Stars and Stripes. He sold his first freelance cartoon to the Saturday Evening Post after his discharge from the military in 1954.

Later in his career, some of Hart's cartoons had religious themes, a reflection of his own Christian faith. That sometimes led to controversy.

A strip published on Easter Sunday in 2001 drew protests from Jewish groups and led several newspapers to drop the strip. The cartoon depicted a menorah transforming into a cross, with accompanying text quoting some of Jesus Christ's dying words. Critics said it implied that Christianity supersedes Judaism.

Hart said he intended the strip as a tribute to both faiths.

A November 2003 strip featuring an outhouse and several crescent moons was seen as an attack on Islam. Hart denied the accusation, telling the Washington Post that the strip was nothing more than a "silly" bathroom joke.

His color strip published Sunday, the day after he died, featured dialogue from the Bible.

"He had such an emphasis on kindness, generosity, and patience," said Richard Newcombe, founder and president of Creators Syndicate in Los Angeles.

Newcombe said Hart was the first cartoonist to sign on when the syndicate was created 20 years ago.

"Traditionally, comic strips were owned by syndicates," Newcombe said. "We were different because we allowed cartoonists to own their own work. It was ... Johnny's commitment to this idea that made us a success."

Besides his wife, Hart is survived by two daughters, Patti and Perri. He was a native of Endicott, about 135 miles northwest of New York City, and drew his comic strip at a studio in his home there until the day he died.


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