It’s been interesting to see the various reactions people have to the above cartoon. Some find it funny, some find it unfunny, others find it both unfunny AND sacrilegious. I received an email letting me know that “ALL PRAYERS ARE IMPORTANT!” Another person emailed, informing me that “God answers ALL prayers, even if He doesn’t directly answer them.” (The subtext of both emails seemed to be: “You’re an idiot” and/or “You’re going to Hell.”)
I think this cartoon is quite tame but I guess any time you draw God you risk people being offended. These people would’ve flipped out over the first two drafts of this cartoon. Before I came up with the final version, I had two other 'takes.' And they’re really bad. Want to see how bad? Okay, get ready for some lameness!
Version 1 – Jesus helping his Dad with Faithbook
This is the first version I mocked up. I thought it would be funny to do a spin on the theme of a child helping out their “clueless” parent with the computer.
There are two things wrong with this version:
1. It shows God needing help with something. God doesn’t need help with anything. He’s God. He’s all-knowing. It's not a good idea to show God needing assistance.
2. Having two “serious” prayers in a cartoon just isn’t funny. Especially that first prayer. What a downer.
So I realized it had to be God on the computer by himself, then came up with another version, which I’m a little embarrassed to post.
Version 2 – Annoyed God on Faithbook
After the caffeine high wore off, I realized what’s wrong with this idea:
1. God comes off like a sarcastic jerk. He also looks bored, as if he’s tired of people’s prayers.
2. The comment God is making is a take-off of “Bitch, please.” (I know…it’s awful. It seemed funny when I was hopped up on coffee.)
After much thought, I came up with the final version which was meant to portray God as a cool, caring dude who knows his way around his Faithbook features. (It was also a lot of fun to come up with Debbie Pefferton’s prayers.)
Well, that’s it for the peek behind the scenes. Now you know how much thought and concern goes into some cartoons. Scary, huh?
Jim Unger, creator of the comic panel “Herman,” died on May 29. He was 75 years old.
Whenever I see a Herman cartoon, it instantly brings me back to my childhood. From the late ‘70s through the early ‘80s, my parents were big fans of Herman. The bookshelf in the den of our house held two or three “Herman” collections. It was the first single panel cartoon I read and I loved it. If I didn’t understand a joke, it didn’t matter. The drawings were always fun to look at.
When I was in 2nd grade, I was playing a soccer game and my parents and my teammates’ parents were cheering us on. One of the parents had brought a Herman book and, during the game, several of them were cracking up at the cartoons (which of course was much more entertaining than watching a bunch of seven-year-olds chasing a soccer ball). During halftime, I saw a few of my parents' friends looking at the cartoons, laughing, and saying things like, “That’s so true!” and “Oh my God, look at this one!” I distinctly remember one woman laughing so hard she was crying.
From about 1978-1984, it seemed like everybody loved Herman. By the mid ‘80s, The Far Side had become hugely popular and Herman was suddenly yesterday’s news. Herman was still hilarious but The Far Side was both hilarious and “out there.” Since I was a little older, I understood all the Far Side jokes. I was hooked.
Over the years, I had somehow forgotten about Herman. The passing of Jim Unger reminded me of a brilliant single panel comic and a wonderful period during my childhood.
Thanks for the laughs, Jim Unger. You were one of the greats.