He’s ready to deliverhis lively talk at churches, schools
By Tom Maguire
There is the Book of Life and then there are — one hopes — the not incompatible religious-cartoon books of Dan Reynolds, replete with puns and zany confessions — all of them forgivable.
The Brewerton artist’s brush is blessed with inoffensive humor. His two new books — part of his peppy apostolate “Divine Comedy” — depict poor Noah counting more jokes than animals; snowmen packing political correctness; the Book of Numbers counting on more respect; John the Baptist borrowing baptism technique from a midway; Moses obsessing about bifurcation; nuns delighting over a piñata; vertical halos causing crankiness; an apparently busy ax acting solemnly; Judas being incorrigible — from way back; Michelangelo creating some comedy; and the cartoonist conjecturing, with surprising logic, about Jesus as the inspiration for rock ’n’ roll. Reynolds even dares poke a little fun at tough guy Chuck Norris.
His funny greeting cards, Reynolds said, are sold in every city in the country, and his cartoons now appear in every issue of the national magazine Catholic Digest. His Reader’s Digest cartoons — more than 200 of them — appeared in a four-month exhibit in 2011 at the Everson Museum in Syracuse.
Reynolds, who has a certificate in pastoral care, is coordinator of new evangelization for Divine Mercy Parish in Central Square. He invites churches and schools to contact him so that he can visit and deliver his “Divine Comedy” presentation: “a combination of humor, some stories, and some jokes.” (He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is www.divinecomedydan.weebly.com.)
Rather than a picture dictionary, his show is more like a picture lectionary: Attendees will laugh at cartoons while enjoying “an opportunity to go a little deeper too.”
Asked how he navigates the line between acceptable fun and overdone humor, he said:
“It’s true, you have to stay within the bounds of what’s respectful. … My goal is not to change anything in the Gospel, because it’s the Gospel’s job to change us. So we should not be overstepping the bounds of what is respectful. …
“I weave together some of my cartoons to bring out a message about how important humor and joy is in terms of our faith life. It’s really important. Jesus didn’t walk around with 12 disciples who had gloomy faces all the time. They radiated joy, and that’s what he wants us to do too.”
The Navy veteran knows how to draw Jesus; as a cartoonist, he can draw anything. And if he thinks of a cartoon that is funny but does not conform to his high standard, he invokes his “ixnay” prerogative and spikes it.
But those who witness his “Divine Comedy” presentation must be ready to laugh.
“Sour people are not going to draw Christ … to other people,” Reynolds said. “People who are filled with spirit, people who are excited about the love of God — those are the people that other people are going to want to be around. And that’s just a fact of life.
“So, in doing the ‘Divine Comedy’ presentation, that’s kind of my goal.”
Asked if he is becoming a deacon (in a couple of more years, “God willing”) to get ecclesiastical approval of his cartooning endeavors, Reynolds said:
“No, one has nothing to do with the other, but in some ways it has everything to do with the other.
“Because as a cartoonist, and someone who’s doing cartoons specifically about religion, for any cartoonist no matter what you do, you always do what you know. You can only do what you know. …