Great Zot.

§ April 9th, 2007 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Great Zot.

One of my favorite gags from Johnny Hart’s B.C. comic wasn’t in one of the strips, but rather the title of one of the many paperback reprint collections:

By itself, I think that’s pretty amusing, but it’s this note on the title page (and also at the bottom of the front cover) that really makes it for me:

I wonder how high in price the title eventually got…though I suppose once you get to “Life is a five dollar ninety-nine cent paperback,” it’s no longer funny as much as it is depressing.

EDIT: Mark Evanier just put up a post discussing this very same book…and mentions that there was a British edition (Life is a fifty pence paperback).

Johnny Hart passed away over the weekend, and I know the man had his share of controversy regarding his strips, and that the strip’s humor suffered in its later years…but Hart’s earlier work is funny and witty and just plain silly, and as a young Mikester I read and reread and read again all the B.C. paperbacks I could get my hands on. So thank you for that, at least, Mr. Hart.

Slightly related story…when I was a senior in high school, just about to graduate, I went on a tour of the University of California Irvine campus for their annual “spend your parents’ money at our school” membership drive. The mascot of the school is the anteater, inspired by the anteater character from B.C., and the sound effect associated with that character, “Zot,” also became a part of the school’s culture.

Anyway, as our particular group was being shown around campus, our student tour leader attempted to explain the mascot to us. After telling us it was an anteater, she explained that the school cheer was “Zot” because “um…I think it’s because that’s the noise an anteater makes when it eats an ant.”

So, yeah, pretty much no clue that it came from B.C.. Okay, it may have been technically correct, at least on the comic strip’s terms…and no, I didn’t try to elaborate on her explanation. I didn’t want to be that guy. Well, not until I got my own weblog, anyway.

Speaking of those paperback reprints…I haven’t been to the humor section of a bookstore lately, at least not looking for strip reprints, but it seems to me that this particular format is pretty much dead. Instead, we have those larger format books, like the collections for Foxtrot and Dilbert. The last time I saw those old-style paperbacks was in the late ’90s, when I was on a Peanuts kick and I was tracking down reprints of those latter-day Schulz strips. There was at least one Peanuts collection I found in that original paperback format, and it was priced (as I joked about that B.C. paperback above) at $5.99. I thought that was just a little too dear for what I was getting, so I passed on purchasing (but in retrospect, the cost per strip was probably comparable to what you’re getting in, say, one of the later Foxtrot volumes…someday I’ll do the math).

So, is that standard-sized pocketbook strip reprint format gone now? A quick Amazon search on the most likely suspect to still be in that format, Family Circus, reveals that it’s been about ten years since the last release in that format (and Good Lord, thirty-two bucks?). I guess the perceived value of those smaller reprint books just isn’t enough to maintain sales, compared to the larger volumes.

One more thing about B.C.‘s influence on me…whenever I see a “DIP” or “DIP IN ROAD” street sign, I always, always, recall this cover:

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