A new comic strip in the old fashioned newspaper format is warming hearts, promoting the Catholic faith, and may soon be coming to a bulletin near you. Titled “The Catholic Cartoon,” this series presents the antics of Father Otto, a parish priest who is the vehicle for the many Catholic-themed puns and observations of artist Joshua Masterson.
Masterson, a 19-year-old artist from Illinois, has already accumulated a large body of work, much of which he has shared on his Instagram page. His art style harkens back to the mid 20th-century style of the “funnies” section, with obvious nods to the classics like Family Circus and even later works like Calvin and Hobbs.
The series revolves around a small-town priest named Father Otto, a reverent cleric with a penchant for dad jokes, or “Father Jokes” as he refers to them. While he is the leading man, much of the humor is derived from the things that happen around him; for example, in one frame a group of curious altar boys ask Fr. Otto if his mother calls him father. In another, the priest can be seen lying in the sun to “work on his tan” while wearing a full cassock that covers everything but his face and hands.
The Catholic Cartoon is brimming with humor, but it also can turn on a dime to present a lovely frame of a character in prayer, Fr. Otto celebrating the Mass in reverence, or even just a moment where the priest and his dog are enjoying a sunrise together and marveling at God’s creation. In this, the Catholic Cartoon is in itself an evangelizing resource.
In an interview with America Magazine, Masterson did not hesitate to comment on the comic’s value as a tool for evangelization. He said:
“I want to bring joy to the world with the gifts God has given me,” said Mr. Masterson, “but also to build up his kingdom, to raise the hearts and minds of his people to him using my gifts. Art has a very special way of doing that, raising your heart and mind to a higher plane of thinking.”
While many comic series like The Catholic Cartoon got their big break in newspapers, in true Catholic fashion, Masterson would like to leave his mark on parish bulletins. He is currently in talks with several parishes that are interested in syndicating his comic and printing it in their weekly parish bulletin. If successful, The Catholic Cartoon could soon be in bulletins around the US.
Until then, Masterson is happy to announce that he has begun working with Voyage Comics, makers of high quality Catholic themed graphic novels, to publish the first volume of The Catholic Cartoon’s collection. The volume is already on sale, with the first prints scheduled to ship out in the first week of December, making it a tempting offering for the Christmas season.