For today’s post I read B.C. Truckin On Down (1975), B.C. Loneliness is Rotting on a Bookrack (1978), and B.C. Life Goes On (1984). All of these books were published by Fawcett Gold Medal. B.C. created by Johnny Hart.
B.C. takes place pre-history or in some combination of paleolithic eras. There are humans, and some form of written language, but there is also the rare dinosaur, plus a lack of shared community and resources, or even farming. Yet they have a baseball team. Some have theorized that the strip is actually post apocalypse. Due to the oft repeated religious references I’m learning towards an ancient society, after Christ but before the calendars were reset.
Usually it’s a simple 3 or 4 panel gag that might get a titter or an eye roll. Below I took pictures of some of my favorites from the three books I read. (And hey, if you think these are good there’s an anniversary hardcover book coming out late this year that I would highly recommend.) Many of the characters are named after people in Hart’s life and I think some of the early humor is more inside. Universal tropes that can elicit a chuckle from anyone, but the guffaws are reserved for those who know the inspirations.
I was surprised to see some real expirimentation in these strips. Not only breaking the fourth wall, but running right into it. Some great weird gags with the snake. Infidelity jokes with the ants. Strips like The Far Side were called weird and many modern ones have had their hands slapped for talking about things like sex. Who knew that the classic B.C. stuff had already forged that path.
There was maybe one or two of the classic pen pal strips in these collections. I’m guessing the idea grew later on. There’s also not any Christmas or overly religious strips, which Hart actually got in trouble for later in life. I mean, the strip is called B.C. Christ is implied right in the title. Also, the biggest Christmas special on Earth is the Peanuts one which comes right from the same comic page B.C. can be found on. I don’t want an all Catholic and only Catholic Sunday funnies, but for ideas to pop up at certain times of the year, like Christmas, isn’t a big deal. I have heard people complain about the Curtis strips during Kwanza and I defend those strips as well. Sorry you think it’s not for you, but maybe shut up for long enough to read a comic strip and you might learn something.
The only part that feels offensive looking back are the two ladies. At the time called “Fat Broad” (now Jane) and “Cute Chick” (now Grace). These two weren’t given their official names until the August 29, 2019 strip. So, yeah, it took quite a while to do something ground breaking and “woke” like giving women names.
Overall, a fun strip and it’s surprising how much the popularity has waned. B.C. did have two animated specials and characters used to be seen as mascots for advertising. Everyone has their own favorites on the comic pages and we can debate all day which ones are actually funny. But talent should be undeniable and I can’t argue against B.C. having its place as an original idea that puts universal human experiences into an odd place so that we can experience it anew.
Wow that was a lot to write on a tablet to send to my friend on the other side of the ocean.