I received an email from a reader back in 2015 who had a great idea for using my cartoons. I had intended to share it on my blog, and then didn’t get around to it, until now. The email was from Timothy Sliekers, a fourth grade teacher at a private school in Illinois. The school curriculum required the students to learn several memory verses throughout the year. He intended to use my cartoons in a project to help his class with memorizing the Bible verses. The project was to have his students create their own cartoons, based on that week’s memory verse, in the style of Joyful ‘toons. I’m sure their cartoons were a great help in memorizing the verses. He shared some of their cartoons with me, and now, though long overdue, I am sharing them with you. I would give all of them an ‘A’. If anyone else wants to use this idea for their own teaching assignment, please feel free to do so.
Every once in a while someone will write to me who has found my Joyful ‘toons website, and they’ll say something like “I’ve never seen Christian cartoons before”. Actually, there is a rich history of Christian cartooning, dating back to the late 19th century.
I first became aware of Christian cartoons when I was a kid, in the 1970s. I was a collector of the Spire Christian comic book series, most of them drawn by Al Hartley. There were several issues that featured the characters from the Archie comics: Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, etc. I still have most of them, along with a few comics from other publishers. Then, there were the Jack Chick comic book tracts, which seemed to be everywhere when I was younger. I read several of them on the daily bus ride home from school. But Christian comics and cartoons have been around since even before my time.
An excellent online resource for researching the history of Christian cartoons can be found at the website ChristianComicsInternational.org. They have a web page devoted to Christian Comics Pioneers where you can find a wealth of information on over fifty different cartoonists who have used their talents to serve the Lord over the years. Another website, BibleBelievers.com has a collection of several vintage Christian cartoons by U.S. Abell, E.J. Pace, and Charles Ramsey. You can find the link to the cartoons in the middle of their index page. You can find more cartoons by E.J. Pace at PaceArt/Tripod.com.
I don’t claim to be an authority on the history of Christian cartoons. I’m sure there must be other Christian cartoonists from the past that I am not aware of. If you know of any, please let me know. I would be interested.
I received an email back in October of this year (2009) from Reinhardt Burger of South Africa. In the email Mr. Burger asked me if I would send him a high resolution file of one of my cartoons, titled “Faith Cup”. He told me it was the cartoon “that started a new walk with the LORD”. A text document attached to the email gave more details. The first sentence mentioned the cartoon: “On 14 November 2007 our Father moved the spirit of one of his servants through an email he received with the cartoon as seen below to start a Grace Café in Hermanus, South Africa.” The document went on to tell how the writer was inspired to open a Christian Coffee Shop ministry in his city. He described the coffee shop as a place where people can drink coffee or tea, read Christian literature, listen to Christian music, and receive sound, Christian counseling. You can find out more about this unique minstry at www.gracecafe.co.za.
I wrote back to Mr. Burger and asked him if the idea for the Grace Café was really inspired by my cartoon. It seemed unbelievable to me. He replied, “Yes, you are right. The Grace Café concept started with your cartoon.” What an encouraging example of how the Lord can take something you’ve done and use it to bless and inspire others in ways you could not possibly imagine.
About a year ago I was asked by a friend of mine to create a cartoon for some people who were planning to open a restaurant in Mayport, FL. The name of the restaurant was going to be “Piranha Pauly’s”, and they wanted a cartoon piranha for their logo. They wanted a toothy piranha, but they didn’t want him to be scary looking. I came up with two versions of Pauly.
I liked version two. The client preferred version one, but wanted him to have the hat and frying pan from version 2. My friend, Amy Zackowski of Whispering Dog Design, created the finished logo. I don’t know if the restaurant has opened yet.
These images are not available for reprint.
My sister recently posted some old family photos on the internet, so I took a look at them. As I was going through the photos, I came across a picture of me holding a book with gold lettering on the cover. I realized that the photo was from my 18th birthday, and the book was my Bible when it was brand new.
I have an assortment of Bibles that I have collected over the years. A lot of them were gifts from schools, churches, family and friends. I have various translations: an Amplified version, a New Century version, and several King James versions. I have one particular KJV Bible that I take to church with me. They are all on a shelf in our home office, where I draw my cartoons.
Then there is the one I think of as “my Bible”. That is the one I read most of the time. I don’t keep it on the shelf with the other Bibles. It can usually be found in the kitchen or the living room, where I do most of my reading. It is the New International Version Bible that my parents gave me for my 18th birthday, nearly 30 years ago.
I was very blessed to have parents who modeled Bible reading for me as I was growing up. It was not unusual for me and my brother to see both of our parents reading and studying the Bible. I remember my Mom had a Dake’s Annotated King James Bible that she liked to read. My Dad enjoyed reading his Amplified Bible. I wanted a Bible of my own, one that was easy to read – a reliable translation into modern English. I expressed that desire to my parents, and they chose the NIV Bible for me. I think it was a Holy Spirit inspired choice. It was just the right Bible for me.
I wish I could say that I have read it every day for the past 30 years. Sadly, there have been times when I didn’t make Bible reading a high priority. But, in recent years, I’ve made it a part of my daily routine. I usually read about five or so chapters every morning, while I am eating breakfast. I feed my body and my spirit at the same time.
I recently completed the “Read the Bible in 90 Days” Bible reading plan on biblegateway.com. I was a little concerned that I would not be able to keep up with it, but I decided to take on the challenge. It had been a while since I read the Bible straight through from cover to cover. I started on June 1, and ended on August 30. I think it is a good exercise to read the entire Bible. Yes, there are some parts that are harder to read than others, lists of names and numbers and places that may not seem relevant today. But Paul wrote in his 2nd letter to Timothy, 3rd chapter, 16th verse that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (NIV). I notice the word “all” in that verse. All of the Bible is useful, or as the King James says, “profitable”. And all of it is God-breathed, meaning it is the inspired Word of God. So, I’m glad I took the time to read the entire book, even the seemingly boring passages.
But, as my pastor has been recently pointing out to us, it’s not enough just to read the Bible. In John 5:39, Jesus, speaking to the Jewish religious leaders, says “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,” (NIV). Where the NIV says “study the Scriptures”, the King James says“search the Scriptures”. We should not just read the Bible, we should be studying it, and searching through it. And what should we be searching for? We should be searching for Jesus. All of the scriptures, both Old and New Testatment, testify of Jesus. I have lately been making more of an effort to study, and not just read the Bible. When I sit down to read, I try to make sure I have a notebook handy to jot down any insights the Holy Spirit may give me. In John 14:26, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will “teach you all things”, and I want to be a good student.
Well, the gold lettering that was on the cover of my Bible is all worn off now, but the book is still in good shape. There are no torn pages – no pages falling out of it. Maybe it will last for another 30 years.
It seems that everyone has a blog these days, so I thought I would get in on the act. I don’t know if anyone will be interested in what I write, but here it will be anyway. My primary purpose for having the blog is to write about things concerning my cartoons and the website, although I may divert to other topics from time to time. I’m using WordPress software to publish my blog. It’s all new to me, so it may take me a little time to learn how everything works. It seems pretty simple to use so far.