Remembering Johnny

Johnny Hart

John Lewis Hart was born on February 18, 1931, in Endicott, New York to Grace Anna and Irwin James Hart. As a boy, Johnny demonstrated a talent for art along with an original sense of humor. “As far back as I can remember, I drew funny pictures which got me in or out of trouble depending on the circumstances,” but he never considered cartooning as a serious profession until he graduated from Union-Endicott High School in 1949 along with buddies, Jack “Clumsy Carp” Caprio and Dick “Curls” Boland. At age 19, Johnny met Brant Parker, a young cartoonist who became a prime influence in his life and, in 1964, the artist of the Wizard of Id comic strip.




In 1952, while stationed at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, and working as a cartoonist/photographer at the base newspaper, Johnny met and married Ida Jane “Bobby” Hatcher. In 1953, he was sent to Korea, where he produced cartoons for the Pacific Stars and Stripes.  After his discharge, the couple lived at Bobby’s mother’s farm in Georgia where, in 1954, Johnny sold his first freelance cartoon to the Saturday Evening Post.



Eventually Johnny and Bobby returned to Endicott, and he took a position in the art department at General Electric while continuing to sell cartoons to major magazines.  Influenced by Peanuts by Charles Schulz, Johnny decided to attempt a comic strip of his own. Obsessed with caveman gags, but unable to sell one to a magazine, his buddies at GE, “Thor” Kinney and “Peter” Reuter said to him one day, “Why don’t you do a comic strip about cavemen? You can’t sell them anywhere else!” Johnny thought, “That’s not a bad idea.”

He began designing his caveman characters and, at Bobby’s suggestion, named them after his friends, co-workers and Bobby’s brother-in-law, “Wiley”. He even created an ant character “Queen Ida,” who makes an annual appearance to honor Bobby’s birthday. Johnny submitted his new comic strip to several syndicates and finally, in 1958, the New York Herald Tribune decided to take a chance on B.C. because eight years earlier they had turned down a strip called Peanuts.


Johnny’s dream of joining the distinguished company of fellow cartoonists he admired came true. Lauded by his peers and praised by the public, his two comic strips appeared in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide. Johnny won numerous awards for his work, including twice receiving the National Cartoonist Society’s prestigious Reuben award for Cartoonist of the Year; B.C. winning in 1968 and Wizard of Id in 1984.




On April 7th, 2007, Johnny passed away quietly at his drawing board doing what he loved. Bobby assembled a family team to carry on his legacy. Grandsons Mason Mastroianni and Mick Mastroianni, and daughters Perri Hart and Patti Hart, took over production of the strips. Sadly, Bobby left to join Johnny in 2018 and Perri followed her in 2023, breaking our hearts… Today, Mason, Mick and Patti continue to produce B.C. and Wizard of Id much to the delight of millions of readers all over the world, and hopefully Johnny, Bobby and Perri as well.