Saturday, May 10, 2008
I'm currently reading The Gospel According To Peanuts by Robert L. Short. Short makes the point that the Christian Church has made a grave error in its stark, in-your-face, at times accusatory manner. It's like hitting somebody over the head with a hammer. He looks instead to Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts, which contains many Christian messages but presents them in a radically palatable (subliminal?) way.
Now granted, The Gospel According To Peanuts was written in the early 1960s. But, I think the idea still holds true to an extent.
I really like Jamie Cosley's work because he does much what Schulz did. In works like the classic More Than Sparrows and his latest comic Nobody Likes Tony Pony, Cosley's primary mission is not to preach, but to entertain. But, just as his faith is a part of his life, it's part of the world he puts down on paper as well.
Nobody Likes Tony Pony is made up of a series of one-page comic strips surrounding a dysfunctional office dynamic along the lines of The Office and Dilbert. Tony Pony is, to an extent, a bit of a boob -- he's shat upon by birds, accidentally farts in his customer's faces, and is in generally a mediocre salesman. But, much like Charlie Brown, he tries to be a good person.
Tony also tries to be a good Christian, but Cosley carefully examines his motives and shines a spotlight when they're less than 100% sincere or smart. Cosley keeps Tony honest. When Tony piously reads a Bible verse about being "saved" from riches, his wife resignedly asks if he will not be getting his commission check this week. And when he reads with tears in his eyes to his son a story about a preacher rejecting a Batman toy as an false idol, his son says, "If he tried to take my Batman, I'd kick him in his nuggets!"
Nobody Likes Tony Pony is a one-shot available online for $2.50.