Monday, December 28, 2009

On the Lighter Side

I love getting books as gifts. This year for Christmas I got a book by one of my favorite authors--Johnny Hart. The book, Growing Gold with B. C.: A 50 Year Celebration. Now, if you're like me and you've been a fan of B.C. for years, this book is something you need to get. It's not a comprehensive collection of all the B. C. strips. It is a good representative sampling of some of Hart's best work.

I got hooked on B. C. way back in high school. My piano/voice instructor's wife was a distant cousin of Johnny Hart, and they always had copies of B. C. and Wizard of Id on the coffee table. I would go early just to read the comic books while a school classmate had her lesson.

I've finished reading the book already. In it I found B .C. strips going back to the beginning of B. C. in the late 1950s. I saw B.C.'s character development and presentation from a short, fat cave man to the taller, somewhat leaner version we all know today. What I found most interesting was Hart's own testimony of overcoming hurdles to breaking into syndicated comic strip work, the inspiration he got from Peanuts, and the way he chose his main characters for the strip (turns out most are friends or relatives).

So what's missing? Well, Hart's classic Christmas and Easter strips are missing, and I wish they weren't. Hart has a way of sharing the gospel with his readers that is engaging, thought-provoking, and winsome. He doesn't preach at you with his Christian vignettes, but he makes you think about the message of Christ. I remember many years ago he had a Good Friday strip that my wife found quite disturbing. I told her to be patient, and wait for the Easter strip--that it would be okay. It was better than okay. Hart knocked it out of the park.

May we all be so gifted as to find winsome ways to take a positive stand for Christ.

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