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April 17, 2007

Brant Parker, 1920-2007

Brant Parker, the co-creator and longtime artist of The Wizard of Id, died Sunday in Virginia after a long period of poor health. He was 86 years old.

Parker was born in Los Angeles and studied at that city's Otis Art Institute, he worked for Walt Disney before and briefly after joining the Navy in World War II. He met eventual collaborator Johnny Hart when he judged an art contest in which the then-teenaged Hart had entered. Parker eventually moved from a job as an editorial cartoonist into a job at IBM.

imageThe Wizard of Id launched in 1964 as a second feature from then already-successful creator Johnny Hart in partnership with his friend and newspaper fresh face Parker. It has consistently been an excellent syndication performer, in addition to spawning a number of paperback collections. It was particularly popular in Australia. Like Hart's B.C. before it, the strip with Parker's art had a gag-cartoon simplicity that translated well into the smaller and smaller spaced afforded strips in the second half of the 20th Century. It also like many of that period's strips in that it featured less in the way of characters and more of an exaggerated microcosm of society through which a variety of set pieces could be run: the scared knight, the arrogant king, the besotted lawyer, the mistreated prisoner and even the domestic situation provided by the Wizard himself.

Parker won the Reuben in 1984 and the National Cartoonist Society divisional award for Humor Comic Strip in 1971, 1976, 1980, 1982 and 1983. He also collaborated on the strips Crock and Out of Bounds. Wizard of Id was also cited as a contributing part of Johnny Hart's 1968 Reuben win.

Parker passed along the full-time art duties on the feature to his son and assistant, Jeff Parker, in 1997. Johnny Hart continued working with the younger Parker until his own recent passing.

He is survived by a wife, five children, and multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
posted 3:44 am PST | Permalink

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