Churches, Schools, and Getting Even

There’s something about Catholocism that generates art. I observe this from an outsider’s perspective, not having been raised Catholic, but it still seems fairly evident to me. Ask Michelangelo. How many times have I wished that some Pope out there with deep pockets would decide that I was da bomb? Sure, cartooning is my medium of choice, but I could get into doing ceilings with the right financial incentive.

Then there’s the sub-genre of Catholic art created by artists and writers who attended Catholic school during their youth. Once again I’m forced to extrapolate from such slim evidence as is available to someone whose closest brush with that particular educational environment was strolling past John Carroll High School on Birmingham’s Southside when I was of college age. But judging by works like Christopher Durang‘s 1979 satirical play Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All To You, there seems to be an element of bracing, unapologic revenge fantasy in many such works, with ancient psychological hurts once inflicted by tyrannical nuns serving as catalysts for score-settling by their student victims now grown to adulthood. What works best in this circumstance, as Durang has demonstrated in his stage works, is humor.

Of course, I’ve never known any tyrannical nuns personally, so I can’t actually attest from personal experience to their real-world existence. But I have known some quite tyrannical Southern Baptists, and I can only shudder at how even more drunk with power they might have been had their sense of divine anointment been fortified by a uniform proclaiming their holiness whenever they walked through a door. So it doesn’t seem a stretch to conclude that something corporeal keeps prompting one artist after another to look back in anger (or ridicule) at events and personalities they presumably felt scarred by in the Catholic schools of their youth.

In case you’re wondering what has prompted this line of reverie, it’s a provocative piece of animation called Sister Mary Dracula, created by my friend and fellow cartoonist Gerry Mooney. Take a look if you dare (and don’t expect a crucifix to protect you).
Last week Gerry informed me that — not satisfied with skewering some unidentified torturer from his childhood with mere Flash animation — he now intends to bring his fanged bride of Christ to the graphic novel form. Early pages of this new work are already online, and Gerry’s plan is to add new increments as they are completed so that visitors to his site can get advance peeks at a book that William Donohue and the highly excitable Catholic League are sure to be picketing once Gerry’s work hits Barnes & Noble.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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