In 1996, the Los Angeles Times and a host of other newspapers around the country refused to print Johnny Hart’s Palm Sunday BC comic strip. It was apparently too politically incorrect--or perhaps, too evangelically incorrect. The comic had Wiley--a brooding, poet-wannabe in the strip’s pre-historic cast of characters--sitting against a tree, tablet in hand, writing a poem entitled "The Suffering Prince":
Picture yourself tied to a tree,
condemned of the sins of eternity.
Then picture a spear, parting the air,
seeking your heart to cut your despair.
Suddenly—a knight, in armor of white,
stands in the gap betwixt you and its flight,
And shedding his 'armor of God' for you—
bears the lance that runs him through.
His heart has been pierced that yours may beat,
and the blood of his corpse washes your feet.
Picture yourself in raiment white,
cleansed by the blood of the lifeless knight.
Never to mourn,
the prince who was downed,
For he is not lost! It is you who are found.
The brouhaha over the censorship did not stop Johnny, a committed believer, from continuing to mark the Christian year with special comics in BC or The Wizzard of Id. And it did not hamper his excellence or popularity--over the years he came to be syndicated in more than 1100 newspapers and he was able to win every award a cartoonist could win and several more that you wouldn’t think he could have.
This year, his Easter Sunday strip was his last. Johnny Hart died on Saturday following a stroke at the age of 76. To the end, he was true to his art and true to his faith: