For The Faces of Dr Pepper exhibit, Margaret, Jordan, and Grace from the Exhibit Design class worked on Harmon the Caveman. These cartoon advertisements for Dr Pepper were drawn by Johnny Hart, the creator of the B.C. comic strip. Harmon and many of his friends may look familiar to those who have read B.C. Here is what Margaret, Jordan, and Grace discovered about Johnny Hart.
John “Johnny” Lewis Hart, the man behind the “Harmon the Caveman” comic used in the Dr. Pepper campaign from 1962-1963, was born on February 18, 1931 in Endicott, New York. From a very early age, Hart had a clear talent for drawing, as well as a hilarious sense of humor. He graduated from high school in 1949 and began a career as a freelance comic illustrator with his high school friends, whose personalities and names gave birth to some of the characters in B.C.
He started out as a photographer and cartoonist for Robins Air Force Base in Georgia and continued to produce comic strips throughout his deployment in Korea for the newspaper “Pacific Stars and Stripes”. It was after this, while he was working at General Electric in 1954, that Hart sold his first comic to the Saturday Evening Post, an act that started his propulsion into fame. Some of his greatest influences were the artists Brant Parker (who later became the artist for the Wizard of Id comic strip with Hart writing it) and Charles Schulz (the artist behind Peanuts). B.C. began running in 1958, with many of its characters based off Hart’s high school friends and some of his GE coworkers. The incredibly successful comic is still in print today. Johnny Hart passed away on April 7, 2007, leaving behind a legacy of fun and a comic strip that helped to mold the comic industry.
The Dr Pepper Museum is located at 300 S. 5th Street in downtown Waco. The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM and Sunday from Noon until 5:00 PM, last ticket sold at 4:15. For more information, visit us on the web at drpeppermuseum.com. To purchase your own Dr Pepper memorabilia, visit the Museum’s online gift shop.