Maybe you had to be there
Having mastered the art of just phoning it in, cartoonist Johnny Hart is now adding the subtle in-joke to his repertoire. The January 30, 2007, installment of Hart's B.C. comic strip has a dog-whistle punch-line that only the highly attuned can catch.
Well, damn me for a heretic and call me apostate! I got the joke! Did you?
Permit me to apologetically explain the likely—ahem—genesis of this joke. I suspect Mr. Hart was taking his ease, calmly contemplating his complete lack of a gimmick for his next strip. As he pondered his plight, his wandering eye lit upon a convenient copy of the Bible. (I assume that Hart has these scattered about his domicile and his work studio. It seems a safe bet.) He decided to do a Bible joke. But how?
Lots of Bibles have extensive glossaries, especially those editions intended as study Bibles and those that use old-fashioned language in need of clarification (King James, anyone?). Noticing that his Bible included a big, fat glossary, Hart knew that God had answered his silent prayer for an idea for a witty comic strip. (God moves in very mysterious ways, you know.) The cartoonist dashed off to his drafting table, and the January 30 strip was born.
I'll admit, though, that I didn't catch the joke upon a first reading. You may not have realized that B.C. rewards a second or third reading, but this was indeed the case. Perhaps you'll forgive me for not being quicker. Being quite unchurched and irreligious, I was initially misled by the glossary reference, the very punch-line of the entire joke. You see, I immediately seized my copy of Colleen McCullough's The First Man in Rome, which I have been reading for several days. It contains a glossary of 117 pages! Naturally I began to think in terms of fiction bestsellers. For some reason, I was then reminded of the Bible. Suddenly I understood the B.C. comic strip and laughed merrily.
For verily I say unto you, Johnny Hart is the biggest joke of all.