Am I too kind to the church?

Today’s question (thanks to Stephen Heard): Your cartoons, while astute and thought-provoking, are always gentle on us (the Church). Are you ever tempted to be more acerbic or satirical? It is kind of you to say that my cartoons are thought-provoking. Sometimes they are, I suppose. But a lot of the time I am simply…

Today’s question (thanks to Stephen Heard):

Your cartoons, while astute and thought-provoking, are always gentle on us (the Church). Are you ever tempted to be more acerbic or satirical?

It is kind of you to say that my cartoons are thought-provoking. Sometimes they are, I suppose. But a lot of the time I am simply larking around, expressing a humorous idea with the aim of making people smile when they open the newspaper, which to me is a worthwhile aim in its own right.

My style isn’t particularly satirical. There is, of course, an important place for satirical cartooning, but it isn’t generally something I have chosen to do.

I do draw angrier cartoons, but you don’t generally see them – or if you do I have toned them down to become more palatable. They are just put away in folders along with ones that aren’t that good or ideas that never quite made it. There are large and extensive folders for such things. The anger in these drawings is directed against myself as often as anyone else.

One of the difficulties with drawing cartoons about everyday church goings-on is that every situation is different, and so an acerbic cartoon which might hit the mark in one church might wildly miss it in another.

Take example one of the cartoons that, for one reason or another, I remain quite pleased with, after service coffee.

after service coffee

This cartoon was inspired directly by years of standing on my own after church services while other people talked to each other. It perfectly fits the after-church mingling experience in many churches, but in a place where people are making an effort to talk to everyone it would be less applicable, and a more satirical version unhelpful.

Example two, a more recent cartoon entitled untapped talent (original – subscriber-only link).

untapped talent

This is towards the hard-hitting end of the really rather mild DW scale. I drew it having talked to friends who had had the experience of having a lot to offer a church, but had never been asked to do anything that would make the slightest use of their talents. I was surprised that this cartoon didn’t really provoke a reaction. I was glad I drew it, but aware that in many places the opposite is true – newcomers are immediately pounced upon as potential material for any number of church vacancies.

This is the reason I tend not to do many cartoons pointing out how incredibly dull many church events are. I imagine the priest / minister who has worked incredibly hard to make things interesting reading it and their morale being sapped. That isn’t what I want to do at all.