The Cartoon Gospels
Cartoons and Meditations on Selected Scripture from
Richard L. Diesslin
ISBN 0-9702244-5-1 and 978-0-9702244-5-3
Copyright © 2002 by Richard L. Diesslin, author/cartoonist.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording or by any information storage
and retrieval system without permission from Richard L. Diesslin
(e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, website https://www.the-cartoonist.com).
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The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were never so much
fun to read! The Cartoon Gospels contain cartoons that
bring out the humor in the Bible through the use of visual parable.
Jesus used parables - humorous, short, memorable stories that
convey truth. Cartoons that are visual parables are simply cartoons
that attempt to do the same thing ... bring out biblical meaning
in a fun and memorable way. Hopefully with the help of a humorous
visual aid you will see new aspects to the scriptures that may
otherwise be missed. The Cartoon Gospel Series actually began
as separate volumes beginning with the lectionary passages for
year C (Luke and John) and expanded to years A (Matthew and John)
and B (Mark and John). This book combines all three of the Cartoon
Gospel Series but rather than follow the Gospel readings based
on the chuch year, these are in Book - Chapter - Verse order for
an easier read through each Gospel.
"The widespread failure to recognize and to appreciate
the humor of Christ is one of the most amazing aspects of the
era named for Him. Anyone who reads the Synoptic Gospels with
a relative freedom from presuppositions might be expected to see
that Christ laughed, and that He expected others to laugh, but
our capacity to miss this aspect of His life is phenomenal. We
are so sure that He was always deadly serious that we often twist
His words in order to try to make them conform to our preconceived
mold. A misguided piety has made us fear that acceptance of His
obvious wit and humor would somehow be mildly blasphemous or sacrilegious.
Religion, we think, is serious business, and serious business
is incompatible with banter." -Excerpt from The
Humor of Christ, by D. Elton Trueblood, Harper & Row.
The Cartoon Gospels cartoons are meant to be stimulating
and humorous and are based on researched interpretation. Each
one is "defensible" theologically (with the exception
of minor cartoonist privilege now and then), even though the point
is to assist you in your own analysis of the actual scripture
passage. The message with each cartoon and passage provides one
or all of the following - instruction, application and meditation.
"One of the barriers to hearing the word of God when we
read the Bible is the feeling, "I've read all this stuff
before." One way to break down that barrier is to see the
humor that is often hidden in the Scripture. Rich Diesslin, uses
a sometimes "off the wall" sense of humor to show us
a humorous and, paradoxically, a dead serious side of the Scripture.
[...] Jesus, who often used humor in his teaching would, we think,
be pleased by these unorthodox and penetrating insights into his
teaching." -Douglas A. Dickey.
The scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version
of the Bible, since most of the original research was done from
this translation. However, if you have a favorite version on the
Bible, use it too! It's always interesting and informative to
compare different translations of the Bible to see where they
agree and differ. The Gospel scripture selections are based on
Common Lectionary Readings for all three church years A, B and
C (Advent to Advent).
Note: the (N#) on each scripture title represents the liturgical
year (year A, B or C) and the week it is used. There are 57 possibilities
within each year depending on where Easter falls for that year.
Thank you for reading The Cartoon Gospels. I hope
you find that these are truly cartoons for the serious Christian.
I'd like to thank my parents, Howard and Micki, not only for
raising me, but also for their interest in my cartooning projects.
I have to thank my wife Mindy as well for her support and encouragement
on this book and all my cartooning projects. It would never have
happened without her! I have to thank my college fellowship for
fertilizing the mustard-seed sized spirituality I brought with
me; it's a really big weed now! Doug Dickey, Roger Callahan, and
John Southwood were the ministers at the time I attended college.
Joking around, working and even fishing with these guys indirectly
led to The Cartoon Gospels. The Recently Discovered Book of Ralph
(forever to be unpublished) was my first effort in cartooning
the Gospel and having fun with the people involved in the fellowship
at the same time.
There have been several people who have encouraged and assisted
me along the way. If it were not for their insights and critiques
I may never have stumbled into the current format. Their reviews
were insightful and helpful, challenging me to modify, enhance
and even drop some of the text and cartoons.
I would like to thank the Reverends Doug Dickey and Elton Trueblood,
sadly they are no longer here to share in the fun, but their input,
recommendations and encouragement were invaluable. Some of Doug's
comments are found in the preface of this book and his sermons
through-out my college days on the graces and faces of God will
always be with me. I knew D. Elton Trueblood only through our
correspondence (he was kind enough to respond to a letter I wrote
him in appreciation of his book The Humor of Christ). He agreed
to review original The Cartoon Gospel (of Luke) and wrote "The
work you have done is impressive. You have done a great deal of
thinking." Words like that coming from a noted scholar are
encouraging, to say the least.
The Reverend Stan Jewell, Presbyterian minister, assisted by
pointing me early on to the common lectionary as a good source
of scripture passages that would be meaningful and significant
to the church. The Reverend Thomas A. Baima, good friend, provost
at St. Mary's on the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois and
Roman Catholic priest, has always maintained an interest in my
work and assisted in many ways including critique and encouragement.
Rev. George Davis', United Methodist minister in Indiana, initial
critique of my original manuscript assisted me in changing the
format to something more user friendly - thus adding
the scripture text and commentary. During my Master's work in
Theology, my advisor and later partner in crime ... er ... cartooning
of theological text books, William P. Anderson, Ph. D., Presbyterian
Minister and professor emeritus at the University of Dayton, came
up with the idea of using marginal characters to help add context
to the cartoons (similar to what some editorial cartoonists do).
We decided on Adam and Eve. This was so useful in our A Journey
Through Christian Theology (Fortress Press) textbook that
I carried them over into the remaining cartoons of The Cartoon
Gospels. Since this idea occurred part way into the development
of the cartoon gospels, only two-thirds of the cartoons include
them. They provide extra commentary from their rather unique position
Mindy has often been my sounding board for cartoon wording
or development issues (e.g., is this better or that better, or
gee that guy looks sort of weird) which provide a very valuable
sanity check to my work. Her mom, and my Mother-in-Law, Doris
Anne Onken has been particularly helpful in editing this volume
as well as being very supportive of this rather off-the-wall ministry
As a posthumous tribute, and simply because they work so well,
the poems used at the being of each gospel were written by Helen
B. McNary (Hammond). I hope you find them an enjoyable addition.
Most importantly, I thank God who blesses us with the presence
of Jesus. I have come to a deeper understanding of the Scripture
and a deeper relationship with Jesus than I had before I started.
I guess I will always think of Jesus as the man, and son of God,
who always has a twinkle in his eye, even when he is making his
most serious point. I hope it adds another facet of Christ's personality
to your life as well.
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Introduction | Matthew | Mark | Luke | John | Back