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Using cartoons and comics in outreach
Humor communicates! God invented it. Jesus used it. Most of us enjoy having our spirits lifted by a cartoon. Ron Wheeler, of Cartoonworks comments that disarming cartoon humor means “people are more receptive to hearing the Gospel message.”
A telling cartoon showed two despairing Christian workers clutching large Bibles trudging along a street, one saying “I give up, I just can't find a way to reach these people!” Every shop and news-stand is selling comics! The source for the cartoon is ROX35 Media, a vital ministry which runs training courses on how to use comics and other media in evangelism.
This page addresses the potential for single stand-alone humor cartoons, as well as narrative stories told in comic form. (Comics are an under-used but strategic tool for outreach.)
1. Cartoons to add to your siteA cartoon on your site can achieve several things:
- demonstrate informality, and that you do not take yourself too seriously
- make people more receptive to, and remember, the message on the page
- communicate in an instant, as a mini parable, a truth which might otherwise take many words to describe. We respond to graphics. That’s why when you search for a program on your computer desktop, you search for a recognisable logo rather than the wtitten name of the programm which is not only a shortcut on the desktop, but a shortcut in your mind.
Also available are cartoons with an obvious Christian connection, either to use as static graphics on a web-site, or to link to as a daily changing cartoon. Some are only intended for a Christian readership, others have a lower-key or evangelistic intention. View samples.
Cartoon strategy proposalThere seem to be few cartoons available which fit between these two categories – apparently secular, or obviously Christian. We suggest there is the potential for online cartoon outreach designed for low-key evangelism with these characteristics:
- Available for low-key evangelistic or church pages to incorporate directly into the page.
- Cartoons to raise deep questions about coping with life, its meaning and purpose, in the way that Peanuts often does. They might include a degree of touching pathos which is not always a component of secular or Christian cartoons. The late Charles Schulz, a Christian, was a master of this genre. We honor his unique gift.
- Could be a single picture or short strip telling a story.
- Be of such quality that non-Christian sites might even want to use them.
- The linked page could carry a range of other cartoons, but also be an entry point to evangelistic material designed to mesh with the types of questions raised by the cartoons. The cartoon could include a link to pages taking the reader further.
Here’s a working demonstration of how such a cartoon might appear.
Comics in evangelismComics have long been used for very effective evangelism. Their value is that they communicate truth in a visual way, not only to children, but also to people in an oral communication culture. Fiction stories told in cartoon form for adult readers – are very popular in Japan the Middle East and other areas. Rox35Media are currently planning an outreach comic for Africa.
Of course, anything comic that can be printed can also be put online and can also be downloaded to mobile phones.
- Children's comic stories with a low-key message aimed at non-Christians. He Lived Among Us is a comic-strip telling of the life of Jesus in a large range of languages. You can also download the graphics and install them on your own site.
- Cartoons.com is a comprehensive secular cartoon portal which demonstrates many ways of communicating using cartoons.
- Testimonies can be told in comic form.
- Books on communication through comics:
- Comics with Attitude
- Understanding Comics [EU/UK] Scott McCloud, 1994, Kitchen Sink Press ISBN 006097625X. "I recommend it wholeheartedly – it's a revelation in terms of graphical communication," says evangelist Nigel Chapman.
- Reinventing Comics, [EU/UK] Scott McCloud, 2000, Harperperennial Libary, IBSN 0060953500
- Rox35 Media offer training seminars around the world in the use of cartoons and comics for evangelism
- Christian Comics International list a number of ministries involved in cartoons
AnimationsAnimations have great potential, whether as a short one-minute clip, or a longer story. The growth of YouTube and other video-sharing sites means that both video and animation are hugely strategic online. There is a big need for more Christians to learn how to create animations. View this secular animation as an example of what is possible in this medium.
related pages within the Understand culture menu links
recommended books on culture, including free downloads
valuable online videos about web ministry