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Doug Michael joins BP cartoonists with ‘Beyond the Ark’ series

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Baptist Press readers who venture over to the Lighter Side and view the cartoons may have noticed a new addition to the cartoonist lineup.

Doug Michael’s “Beyond the Ark” cartoons have appeared weekly since June. Sometimes resembling the Far Side, the cartoons range from Methusaleh at the pharmacy to Jonah’s slide show, each portraying humor in biblical themes.

When he was younger, Michael would cut out cartoons that had biblical connotations and place them in his Bible. Not until 10 years ago did he consider drawing his own biblical cartoons.

“I saw a Joe McKeever cartoon in the state newspaper (Illinois Baptist), and it occurred to me that I should do it too, only with a little different twist,” he said. “I went to the library, checked out a book on how to draw, and I drew my first cartoon in August 1992.”

The name for his series came from drawing his first several cartoons about Noah’s Ark, and because he knew he would take the cartoons beyond the subject of the ark, he named them “Beyond the Ark.”

Michael says he is a big fan of the Far Side and an even bigger fan of the Bible, and he is inspired by Bible studies, suggestions from friends and odd combinations of ideas.

He carries a pocket tablet with him regularly and makes rough sketches when an idea strikes. Depending on the detail and shading required for a cartoon, he draws them in just under an hour most times.

“Every joke has a punch line, a twist that makes us laugh,” Michael said. “The reason we laugh is that something doesn’t make sense. I generally try to add a twist to my cartoons. In reality, the Bible is one book that doesn’t make sense. Why would God love me? And why would Jesus give his life for me? It doesn’t make sense. ‘While we were sinners, he died for us.’ That doesn’t make sense. And what a terrific offer to us. I am forever grateful to him for his love.”

Michael is a 1975 graduate of Eastern Illinois University and taught high school math for four years before moving to Bloomington, Ill., to work at the corporate headquarters of State Farm Insurance. Today, he is a computer analyst at the company. He and his wife, Sarah, have three children, Andrea, Nathan and Joshua.

“I know the cartoon is a winner when I can make my wife smile,” he said. “She’s got a great sense of humor — she has been with me for 23 years now.”

Michael said it’s terrific to see his cartoons offered in such a medium as Baptist Press. He hopes this will make them readily available for Sunday school teachers and other Christians to use in discussions, and he hopes it will lead to wall calendars, coffee table books and even greeting cards.

“My original goal for the cartoons was to pass a little bit of me down to my descendants,” he said. “Our pastor suggested that out of our lives should come something that outlives us. I thought I could write something down, but who would read it? They’d just fall asleep. Cartoons, combining creativity, humor and the Bible, was a much more accurate way to communicate to my kids (and beyond) who I was.”
Two of Michael’s cartoons are posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Titles: METHUSALEH and JONAH. Others posted weekly at http://www.bpnews.net/bpcartoons.asp.

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  • Erin Curry