Comics

God Made Man, But A Monkey Supplied the Glue

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You'll be relieved to learn that Sunday's B.C., which took on Charles Darwin in some of the most arrythmic rhyming verse ever carved in stone, was not dropped by any of the comic strip's 1,200 client newspapers. "Anyone who runs 'B.C.' at this point knows Johnny Hart's philosophy, so I don't think anyone was surprised," Creators Syndicate president Rick Newcombe tells Editor And Publisher. Complaints about the strip have been few and far between.

As the semi-regular controversies over B.C. are among the few sources of entertainment in the comics page, I choose not to let this particular hubbub die down. Johnny Hart (hilariously described as "the most widely read writer on earth") has a reputation for courting controversy with his out-front evangelism and slams on other faiths, but the striking thing about his method is how passive aggressive it is: He does a comic guaranteed to spark an uproar, and then when the uproar happens, he pretends he was innocent all along. "My goodness. That's incredible. That's unbelievable!" was Hart's reply to the famous Islam-in-the-potty dustup a few years ago.

I say it's time for Johnny Hart to stand up for his beliefs. A cartoonist who rejects Darwinian theory is on thin theological ground drawing a cartoon where dinosaurs (nowhere mentioned in the book of Genesis) walk and talk, apparent Cro-Magnons are suspiciously well versed in both the New and Old Testaments, Christian salvation is available to people living Before Christ, and stone tablets miraculously float—arriving at far-flung destinations with no apparent means of propulsion. Nowhere in the many interviews Hart has given about his faith has he been called on to explain this cognitive dissonance—which makes the dogma of the Immaculate Conception look solidly biblical by comparison. This is why I can't trust Protestants: The theology isn't even close enough for government work.

Come on, Johnny: Stop serving both God and Mammon. If you want to serve the savior, bring Him on! When the rapture comes, there will be room for some new crank cartoonists to jazz up the comics page with their own mad obsessions:


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  1. I checked the link. That was just…sad.

  2. The problem with Sunday’s B.C., IMHO, is not that he attacked Darwinism; it’s not even the anachronism of having someone before Christ refer to both Xianity and Darwin (in fact, I kinda like that touch); it’s that it isn’t the least bit funny, clever, or even mildly amusing.

    Reminds me of the sorry spectacle of Schultz continuing to push out “Peanuts” long after his inspiration had run dry.

  3. it’s that it isn’t the least bit funny, clever, or even mildly amusing.

    Reminds me of the sorry spectacle of Schultz continuing to push out “Peanuts” long after his inspiration had run dry.

    Agree completely on the first part. When I saw this post, I thought, huh? Who reads that strip anymore, except for ironic amusement at it’s suckitude?

    My ninth grade geometry textbook was illustrated by B.C., and it was clever and amusing. The last 10 years have just been sad.

    As for your peanuts comment, I always found myself amused by the dry surrealness of those later comics.

  4. Apparently a paragraph break ruins the italics tag.

  5. Comics that need to die immediately (including, but not limited to, the following list): The Family Circus, B.C., Marmaduke, Hagar the Horrible, Blondie, Mary Worth, Beetle Bailey, For Better or For Worse, Rudy Park, The Born Loser, Dilbert, Flo&Friends.) I’m sure I’m forgetting a few, too. This is not a comprehensive list, just a subset.

  6. The two things to strike me first when I finally broke down and subscribed to the Washington Post (as opposed to clinging to my former-New Yorkerdom by just reading the Times) were:
    (1) The Sunday magazine is crap, and
    (2) “Comics” really are increasingly inaptly named.

  7. The Family Circus should never be killed. In addition to being the most Zen strip since Ernie Bushmiller was writing Nancy, it’s an endless source of perverse Internet humor. Besides, my great-aunt Ruth likes it.

  8. I honestly had a feeling you would protest my Family Circus comment, Jesse. (Based on a similar/same argument as the one you stated). I guess I’d have to grant you that, having seen the H.G. Wells mashup that was posted a while back.

  9. “Comics that need to die immediately . . . : . . . Rudy Park . . . [and] Dilbert”

    What’s wrong with those two?

  10. Oh, I think I may have accidentally confused Rudy Park with a crappier comic, so strike that submission….but don’t you think Dilbert is getting a little tired? Office jokes? C’mon.

  11. I liked the Dilbert from yesterday with the gal sitting on his lap and he’s thinking it couldn’t get any better.

    But I do think it suffers from Adams having spent such a long time away from his subject matter. How many times do we need to be reminded the pointy-haired boss is dumb?

  12. I was once teased in school because my father wrote in to the local paper to defend Fred Bassett, a strip that makes Marmaduke look like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

  13. Ha! Sucks to be you, dead_elvis. I would’ve made fun of you, too! 🙂

  14. I don’t think I’ve come as close in my adult life to pissing my pants as the day I discovered the DFC online back in the mid-90s. After reading a couple hundred of those, you get pretty affectionate about the real Family Circus, corny as it is.

  15. Smacky, agreed on all counts except for For Better Or For Worse. I have a strange affection for that strip, similar to my inexplicable love of The Waltons. (Pre-“Alternate Universe John-Boy” only! And none of this “Aunt Rose” crap!)

    Anyone else getting this “Brevity” thing? Some new gag panel United Media is pushing? Easily the worst thing in the SF Chronicle, and they still run “The Wizard Of Id” on the weekends.

    Now “9 Chickweed Lane”, that’s a comic strip!

  16. Reason Online: now with censors for the funnies!

  17. does anyone even semi-intelligent look for intellectual consistency in the comics?

    who gives a rat’s ass if Johnny Hart doesn’t like Darwinism? he’s plainly an ignoramus.

    stone tablets don’t float? no shit.

    if you don’t like his cartoon, ignore it. calling attention to it just makes things worse. letting him go on should pacify the anti-Darwinists. let them have their anti-intellectualism party. we’ll be busy learning more about how the (real) world works.

  18. “This is why I can’t trust Protestants: The theology isn’t even close enough for government work.”

    Oh pu-lease! Much of the history of western progress is the history of us breaking away from Catholic stupidity.

    …I’ll try to remember that Catholic theology is superior to my own the next time I see someone on TV with a mold stain that looks like the virgin Mary.

  19. Ordinarily I wouldn’t care, but it rankles me that BC can skate with this sort of stuff and a comic like Boondocks, which actually manages to be funny occasionally gets nailed for stuff that’s not even half as bad.

  20. Once upon a time, back in the antediluvian days of the late 60’s and early 70’s, B.C. was actually a pretty funny comic strip. It never hit the highs of classic Peanuts, Pogo or Lit’l Abner, but Hart had a sardonic wit and a reasonable degree of cleverness.

    Unfortunately, Hart has been turning out increasingly doctrinaire, unfunny shit for over 20 years now, and it amazes me that so many papers still carry the strip. It has to be more from syndication inertia than from any real reader demand.

  21. Hart doubly shows his ignorance. First of all, Darwin never said a damn thing about man and monkeys. That was done by later scientists. Even so, how does trying to figure out our origins make him lose his Christianity? Heck, in my old Islam Sunday school classes, I was taught that the man that questions his religion and the world that Allah created was nobler than the one that took everything at face value. Of course, that?s an outhouse of a religion according to Hart.

    Gee Reg, the only reason I here people asking for BC to be dropped is because it su-diddly-ucks. Sounds pretty free market to me. If Reason Online started saying, don?t buy Brittany Spears albums because she sucks, does that mean they?re anti-free-speech? Explain to me how conservative radio stations not playing Dixie Chicks is not suppression of free speech (I don?t think it is), but Tim calling Hart out is?

    Oh, and someone needs to add Mallard Fillmore to the list of comics that need to die. My favorite parody of that particular comic was in America the Book. First frame: Some right-wing talking point. Second frame: Continuation of talking point. Third frame: Mallard saying, “Oops, I forgot to tell a joke”.

  22. Y’all should be buying Action Philosophers
    http://www.eviltwincomics.com/action.html

  23. Shem,
    Ditto on Boondocks. I thought the get Condi a man thread was hilarious, though my recent favorite was McGruder poking fun at McDonalds for their (misguided) urban targeting. “Double Cheeseburger: I?d hit it” had me ROTFL.

  24. For those who haven’t yet come across the amusing comic Medium Large, you’ll love this.

  25. …I’ll try to remember that Catholic theology is superior to my own the next time I see someone on TV with a mold stain that looks like the virgin Mary.

    Hey, that mold stain fetched $3500 on eBay!

  26. I wonder if I could be excommunicated for treating a piece of bread so that mold preferentially grows in certain areas (that just happen to form a shape resembling an apparition of Mary), preserving it, and then selling it on eBay.

  27. thoreau,
    I’m gonna Ratzo you out!

    What I wanted to say, as a comic-reader longer than most here (based on mortality tables and whatnot).

    We must take the bitter with the sweet.

    B.C. gets on my nerves, but there is a growing number of comics to which I literally avert my eyes. Chief among those is Marmaduke.

    The cat, Garfield, on the other hand, usually gives me an actual chuckle.

    The best is “For Better or For Worse.”
    In the weekly only category, the best by far is Berkley Breathed’s Opus.

    Rose is Rose is pretty good.
    Most of the rest, such as B.C., are like holding one of those battery-powered metal detectors and strolling down the beach in my Speedos.

    The greatest cartoonist of all times was Al Capp.

  28. Ziggy had Garfield neutered! NOW THAT’S FUNNY!

  29. “In the weekly only category, the best by far is Berkley Breathed’s Opus.”

    I stopped reading the comics when Bloom County disappeared. …Oh, and when I couldn’t find The Far Side anymore.

  30. “I wonder if I could be excommunicated for treating a piece of bread so that mold preferentially grows in certain areas (that just happen to form a shape resembling an apparition of Mary), preserving it, and then selling it on eBay.”

    I don’t think you’d be excommunicated for that, but I don’t think you can get into heaven. Wait, if you’re excommunicated, you can’t get into heaven either, right? Maybe it’s just that you’ll have to go to purgatory first.

    Once in Purgatory, angels will drill hot pokers up your ass until you realize that growing hairy virgin Marys is a sin. Once that clicks, you get to go to the VIP room with everybody else, at least that’s my understanding.

    …But I really don’t know. You’ll have to ask a Catholic theologian. …or maybe that crazy nun that does Late Night Catechism.

  31. “…moldy virgin mary…”

    The overpass in Chicago looked more like an outline of a vagina than anything else. The thought of the outline of Mary looking like a vagina turned me off from touching my wife for about ten minutes. Then I got over it because I didn’t care. Needless to say, the Chicagoe virgin Mary/vagina was as redamndiculous and funny as anything I’ve seen in the funny pages in a while. By far and away, non-sequitur is the funniest shit in four-color since Bill Waterson merged a haplass child with a smartalecky stuffed tiger.

    Having said that, I must go confess my sins to a fellow ape-man with a white collar.

  32. The thing to remember about Johnny Hart’s comic strips is that the man is 137 years old. He was first published during Reconstruction, when we drew rakish caricatures of occupying Yankee soldiers.

    So whaddyagunnado?

  33. …I’ll try to remember that Catholic theology is superior to my own the next time I see someone on TV with a mold stain that looks like the virgin Mary.

    Now, I’m not Catholic (in the Roman sense, anyways), but . . . seriously. Harry Potter book burnings? Jack Chick tracts? Jesus Domes*? All the silly fundamentalist bullshit that goes on? They’re all Protestants. Maybe not your flavor of Protestant, but don’t get all superior because of this. I’d rather have people freaking out about the Virgin Mary than about Harry Potter books.

    * Y’know, the huge churches that have auditoriums for their “sanctuaries.” Where the senior pastor makes six figures and such.

  34. This thread rules.

  35. Sounds like you object to a practicing Christian having a sense of creativity and humor. You want them to fit your stereotypes, and if the Darwin-trashing Hart won’t, then he must just be a hypocrite or dolt. Would love to know what you think of Tolkien.

  36. “Sounds like you object to a practicing Christian having a sense of creativity and humor.”

    When we find one, we’ll let you know.

  37. “Maybe not your flavor of Protestant, but don’t get all superior because of this.”

    Point taken.

  38. “When we find one, we’ll let you know.”

    You’ll chuckle yet Akira.

  39. The conversation turns to shitty/annoying comics and no one brings up Cathy? Am I the only one who (yes, unable to avert eyes) dreams of Andy Capp coming back from the grave, drunkenly stumbling into the wrong house and beating the crap out of her followed by his laying on the couch and demanding dinner?

  40. As Greg said, Tolkien was pretty good. C.S. Lewis could also be very funny, e.g. The Screwtape Letters. And that Jesus guy was a hoot.

  41. Here’s a comic that will pump Hart’s blood pressure: Sinfest!

    Kevin

  42. “…the famous Islam-in-the-potty dustup…”

    I’d like to see that sometime. My two choices for Comics That Have To Die are the pro-government “Safe Havens” (features a talking collie, a mermaid, a human vending machine and – most incredibly of all – a smarmy activist senator who operates from only the purest of motives – ugh!) and from the same cartoonist, the anti-business “On The Fast Track.”

  43. Opus? Berke Breathed needs to follow Gary Larson and Bill Watterson’s lead and put down the pen!

    And Sinfest is outstanding, as is Red Meat.

  44. Well, now I know that doesn’t work.

  45. Like this, rich: Red Meat!

    My skillz are not that maad, but I learned the linky-link from here.

    Kevin

  46. I cut my reading teeth on comics 40 some years ago.
    Now I scan the comics looking for the occasional gem. Gems are rare.

  47. Was that a Terry Colon illustration? Whatever happened to that guy?

  48. We Must Repeat!

  49. Shem, you said:

    “Ordinarily I wouldn’t care, but it rankles me that BC can skate with this sort of stuff and a comic like Boondocks, which actually manages to be funny occasionally gets nailed for stuff that’s not even half as bad.”

    Boondocks is a great strip, agreed. McGruder knows his subject matter, and has a sharp wit that lets him express his views amusingly. The problem is that B.C. is about Jesus and the stupidity of all those people who believe in things like gravity, heliocentrism, and evolution. Boondocks is about politics proper and race.

    Why are these things the problem? Well, make fun of doubting Thomases and you’re a good faithful member of the Christian persuasion, and nothing keeps the outrageously vocal zealots placated quite like the smug response to reality: “The Bible tells me so.”

    Make fun of people’s attitudes toward race (some of which were justified by that same smug response mentioned above) and political views (and most of the ones he lambastes/lampoons are those of the religious right), and the same vocal religious zealots will start screaming to anyone who will listen (and even those who won’t) that you’re anti-American, treasonous, anti-Jesus, and should be run out of town on a rail.

    Of course, they don’t recognize the hypocrisy of their stance, because “the Bible tells them so.”

  50. “Sounds like you object to a practicing Christian having a sense of creativity and humor.”

    Would you care to provide an example of such a person? We’re discussing the guy who draws “B.C.”

  51. perry bible fellowship in new york press is quite funny as well, in a ha ha ha way.

  52. I grew up with Alley Oop, and so accept BC as fantasy, though it’s not as funny as it used to be. But what do you all think of Prince Valiant’s venture into cryptozoology? With his son as the voice of modern reason?

  53. The comics are not the same without Buzz Sawyer and his old pal Roscoe Sweeney. Remember when Roscoe’s little alien friend created a money tree? Ha ha.

    The problem with Beetle Bailey, IMO, is that the brigade never goes to war. I always wanted to see Gomer Pyle in Nam and Beetle Bailey running the prisons in Iraq.

    BC’s take on evolution is hilarious. Of course, the characters are creationists. They’re ignorant cave men! Get it?

    Family Circus is toxic. Nancy was, too, except when that sexy Aunt Fritzi made an appearance.

  54. Does anybody know what happened to “Ask Captain Ribman”?

  55. “Reason Online: now with censors for the funnies!”

    Somebody’s been censored, and I wasn’t invited?

  56. When our little local newspaper attempted to drop B.C. in exchange for younger, wittier, fresher strips, the howls of outrage bowled us over. Hundreds of subscribers wrote in to complain. And, yes, many were conservative Christians who thought we were dropping the one regular feature that they could feel a connection to.

  57. Most of the rest, such as B.C., are like holding one of those battery-powered metal detectors and strolling down the beach in my Speedos.

    Ruthless,

    If what you said about mortality tables is true (you’re old?)….please don’t (wear a Speedo in public). And to anyone else for that matter: Please Don’t Wear A Speedo (in Public).

    Myself, not a fan of Opus.
    My boss got me a 365-day desk calendar of Non Sequitur for Christmas this year…maybe she sensed I have a bizarre sense of humor. That or it was on sale.

    Jim Walsh, what kind of anti-freedom hogwash are they syndicating in your daily paper?…you don’t happen to live in D.C., do you? (My only guess as to a location that would regularly print pro-government cartoons). I’ve never heard of “On the Fast Track” or “Safe Havens”, but my curiousity is definately piqued now.

  58. Libertarianism doesn’t have a standard for comics other than what succeeds in the marketplace. You are all elitists, ELITISTS I say! for talking about comics on a libertarian site. It violates your masthead, your core values, and your closely fitting undershorts.

  59. “…the famous Islam-in-the-potty dustup…”

    I’d like to see that sometime.

    Gene Weingarten wrote an article about the comic, which should fill you in. There’s also a link to the comic itself, next to the fourth paragraph (under “Related Content”).

    BTW, Weingarten has discussed BC extensively. His theory is that it’s post-acopalyptic, which would explain cavemen discussing Christ.

  60. Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy, or dare I say it, of ratiocination, wherefrom Libertarianism, a nonontological branch of normatization, takes neither part nor parcel, indeed contributes not a groatsworth of wit nor wisdom, and henceforth should not have any pretext for reifying any semioticomicspagizational valencizing, without which the above-mentioned Libertocrypticalism is neither validated nor “constructivized,” thus signifying the hypocriticism of its dialecticism with the religioserious iterations of graphico-journalistic fictions wherein the societal-normative processes are constructed (or deconstructed?).

  61. I’m confused, deludedindesmoines/baffledinboise,

    Are you making fun of clarityiniowa, or gaius marius, a.k.a. Mr. Convoluted Thought? Or both? Either way, it’s wasting precious black pixels on the H&R bandwidth! And it’s oppressing my free mind! You snob.

  62. “…the famous Islam-in-the-potty dustup…”

    I’d like to see that sometime.

    Gene Weingarten wrote an article about the comic, which should fill you in. There’s also a link to the comic itself, next to the fourth paragraph (under “Related Content”).

    Um, not to toot my own horn or anything, but there’s a link to that Weingarten story, which also includes the cartoon itself, in my original post. Read, people, read!

  63. deludedindesmoines:

    You are Carter Scholz and I claim my five clams!

    Kevin

  64. CLAMS GOT LEGS!

    Evolution at work, I tell ya.

  65. Jim Walsh, what kind of anti-freedom hogwash are they syndicating in your daily paper?…you don’t happen to live in D.C., do you?

    Smacky:

    On The Fastrack and Safe Havens are both in the Washington Post. Busted…

  66. For a taste of On The Fastrack go here and check, say, the April 5th strip…

  67. Nobody’s bitched about Doonesbury yet?!
    C’mon, people….

  68. Doonesbury runs on the op-ed page in our local rag, along with Prickly City, so maybe that’s why I give those strips a pass.

    Kevin

  69. Um, not to toot my own horn or anything, but there’s a link to that Weingarten story, which also includes the cartoon itself, in my original post. Read, people, read!

    Actually, I did read the article. The text in question reads “courting controversy”, and the link is to something called “michaeldougan.com” I honestly don’t know how in the world you would expect someone to know that you had linked the Weingarten article – you don’t think people click on every link when they read a post, do you?

  70. As for Doonesbury, he’s an atrocious political analyst, but a pretty good cartoonist (stripper)? There’s definitely worse strips out there.

  71. Sometimes the people in “On the Fast Track” are unhappy with their jobs. Sometimes, it even mocks corporate America. So clearly it’s crypto-Stalinist propaganda, like “Dilbert.”

    Doonsbury had a few days of the “Tom Delay Death Watch,” combining the Schiavo/Pope death watch media storm with the Delay scandals.

    “He’s growing increasingless weak, even losing his ability to raise money. All indications are that the end is near.”

    “So what are his spin doctors saying?”

    “There’s nothing more they can do for him.”

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