Anteater and Zot Creator Johnny Hart Dies
Just imagine yourself sitting in the bleachers, cheering on one of our UC Irvine sports teams as they’re about to win a game against another school.
You’re pumped and ready to witness the other school eat it and as you stand up to show off your school pride and brand-new sweatshirt you purchased from the bookstore, you can’t help but feel the urge to sit back down because it’s a little embarrassing to be wearing a hoodie with silk-screened unicorn on it.
That scenario was avoided thanks to 56 percent of the student body at UCI that voted to have the anteater as our mascot instead and Johnny Hart, American cartoonist, and creator of the B.C. comic strips, which inspired our zany and offbeat mascot.
Sadly, after decades of cavemen comically running amok in the cartoon sections of newspapers, Hart passed away at his drawing table on April 7, 2007 at the age of 76.
According the UCI Web site, the anteater was suggested as a mascot in November 1965 by water polo players Pat Glasgow and Bob Ernst and was chosen for its ‘originality, uniqueness and relevance to UC.’
Our quirky battle cry of ‘Zot!’ was even taken from Hart’s comic strip.
After Hart left the military in 1954, he became inspired by Charles Schultz’s ‘Peanuts,’ and decided to make a comic strip revolving around ‘caveman gags’ which ‘were an obsession in those days,’ Hart told Creators Syndicate Inc.
‘B.C.’ began in 1958 and has appealed to millions of fans in over 1,300 newspapers.
Hart was known to stir up controversy with his strong Christian beliefs, which were evident in many of his strips.
Thanks to Hart we didn’t end up having a pretentious eagle, an awkward unicorn or an ordinary bear (though the anteater is sometimes called an antbear) as the symbol of UCI.
Instead, we have the anteater, a reminder of Hart’s contributions not just to the fans of ‘B.C.’ and ‘The Wizard of Id,’ but also to our campus.