Cute Chick, Fat Broad

  If you were to name the most widely read Christian of our time, who would it be? C. S. Lewis? Frank Peretti? Billy Graham? Well, the real answer is someone who has more readers than all of these men combined. But don't look for his books at your local Christian bookstore. He's in the newspaper, on, of all things, the comic page. I'm talking about Johnny Hart, the most widely syndicated cartoonist in the world. He draws two well-known comic strips, "B.C." and "Wizard of Id," which reach some 100 million readers worldwide every day. Hart is recognized by his colleagues as one of the Best and funniest comic strip artists. But in recent years many newspapers have started refusing to run "B.C." on some days, and have even canceled it altogether--not because they think Hart has gone stale, but because of something that is, in their eyes, even worse: Over the years, Hart has begun to weave Christian themes into his strip. For example, a recent Good Friday cartoon featured four panels of solid gray, each growing darker until the last panel, which was entirely black, with the caption "Good Friday." Another strip shows a caveman on his knees asking God why He doesn't reveal Himself. The man's prayer is interrupted by volcanic eruptions, an eclipse, a burning bush... and a stone rolling away from a cave. As a child, Hart was raised in a nominally Christian home, but as a young man he developed a drinking problem, and even dabbled in the occult. Then, about 20 years ago, Hart underwent a conversion experience and became personally persuaded that Christianity is true. His life has never been the same since, and neither have his cartoons. Though the strip "B.C." originally became famous for characters like "Cute Chick" and "Fat Broad," today it is growing even better known for the controversies that have erupted over its biblical allusions--especially when newspapers cancel the strip over Hart's allusions to his faith. Ironically, it is typically the liberal papers, like the Washington Post, that are most prone to this illiberal reaction. Yet liberal cartoonist Gary Trudeau, who pens the highly politicized strip "Doonesbury," says he can't understand what the controversy is all about. "What's the problem?" Trudeau asks. "That, God forbid, Johnny Hart still believes in God?" As Trudeau puts, it, Hart "is writing about his values as much as I am writing about mine." Precisely. By subtly introducing "his values" into his comic strips, Hart is proving the wisdom of C. S. Lewis, who once observed that believers would be much more effective in getting their message out if they did not always try to evangelize by hitting people over the head with scripture. Rather, Lewis said, they should depict Christian truths in a context that is not explicitly Christian--such as a cartoon featuring cavemen. Johnny Hart can be an inspiration to all of us to find ways to bring a Christian worldview to bear on our work, whatever it may be. Healthy humor is one of God's good gifts to us, and even writing comic strips can be done to His glory-especially if that comic features a fat broad, a cute chick... and the message of Christ's resurrection.


Chuck Colson


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