Can you recall your first memories of becoming a ‘nerd’? Maybe just the first video game you played or movie that you watched in the VCR constantly? It’s probably something that if you were to get a hold of today you would immediately have an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. For some it may have been the comic books they read as a kid or even enjoying a specific subject in school a little too much. I may not be as big a nerd as my husband, but I do nerd out big time when it comes to nature and space. I often catch myself binge watching things like The Universe, Our Planet, Blue Planet, Cosmos etc. I have an outstanding curiosity for what might be out there and all the mysteries we as humans may not know about in space, on earth and in the ocean and in that way consider myself a nerd. When I was younger, I was a bit simpler. My very first memories was a comic some may know from the newspaper called B.C. by award winning Johnny Hart.
Johnny created an alarming following of more than 100 million readers as the creator in 1958 of the comic strip B.C., which focused on prehistoric cave dwellers and anthropomorphic animals and plants while being laced with puns and clever satire about modern society. Hart’s first published work was while he was serving as an enlisted member in the U.S. Air Force in Korea, but it was in Stars and Stripes. After he returned in 1953 he wrote for several different magazines until finally his biggest success was published beginning on February 17, 1958. He drew up B.C. comics continuously for 49 years until he died of a stroke while working at his drawing table in 2007. This Stone Age cartoon was a staple in my early childhood mornings.
I was born in the mid 90’s and was raised primarily by my grandparents. One of the first things my grandfather would do after waking up was open his front door to find the newspaper, something people today call a smart phone. My two sisters and I would run to the kitchen and gather around their 70’s style bright yellow and silver lined dining table and read the daily strips while waiting for my grandfather’s famous bacon pancakes on the weekends or just sugar free cereal sprinkled with sugar on the weekdays. B.C. was always my favorite. I would sometimes cut out my favorite ones and paste them in my school notebook so I could read them in the middle of class.
Hart recruited two of his friends to discuss joke strategy and sketches, Jack Caprio and Dick Boland. He liked to focus on a single concept and jot down words until he could turn some of them into puns. Another interesting fact I found out later in life is his wife made a suggestion to him that he actually use his friends as inspiration and that is exactly what he did. The characters you see are based on childhood friends, co-workers, and even one as his brother-in-law.
After his death in 2007, his work lives on to this day by his grandsons Mason Mastroianni and Mick Mastroianni, and his daughter Perri. As children these days focus more on screens and handheld games, I will forever be grateful I was born in such a sweet spot in time, just before electronics took over. Reading the newspaper comics in the morning with my grandparents was my most fond memory as a child, and I can’t help but thank the late Johnny Hart for his humble contribution to this world with his simple and entertaining comic strips, B.C.