With observation, warning, imagination, empathy and wit, there really is more than something for everyone here. And don’t forget the surreal (ecclesiastical uses of drones, or winter games at your local church, anyone?)


Published: Canterbury Press
Pages:  90
Website: cartoonchurch.com

There is an idiom ‘Many a true word is drawn in jest’ (or something like that). In his anticipated annual collection, the definitive church cartoonist starts by listing questions that newcomers will ask when coming to a new church, from “Will I be roped in on week one?” to “Will l be entirely ignored?” You could base a PCC session on this cartoon.

His observant drawings show how hard it is to please everyone. Some simply highlight the problems of different people coming together as a community, but some are warnings of avoidable situations, such as the survival of small congregations and putting your buildings above people.

Although Walker has a tendency towards healthy provocation (“How to Design a New Logo”), this collection feels a little darker than usual. In “The Guides will Show You Around,” mentions of the tower and crypt move on to exhausted clergy and the donation box, while several cartoons imply that the role of mission is often, effectively, to fill both rotas and the PCC. His contrasts between reality and the church’s website are part truth, part cynicism. “Outreach – More Brilliant Ideas” also lies between the two.

And of course, being about church, what could be more obvious to include, but elephants (one is an animal used as an example of getting the crowd on your side in the all-age talk, one is, ahem, a mammoth flower arrangement and one is ‘in the room’).

This is a clue to his hugely appealing sense of his surreal, such as one of the elements of church initiation including a Masonic-like sword of welcome, sash of belonging and ceremonial cup of tea; a look at areas for automation in church (including a hymn book vending machine, coffee conveyor belt, robotic warden and one even more surreal idea); his silly “Copes – and the home furnishings that inspired them;” Winter Games at your local church; long stick training; ecclesiastical uses of drones and some wildly weird alternative uses for mires, cinctures and pews.

He can get straight to the heart, too. His cartoon "Tasks that We Could Get the Youth to Do" is plain poignant.

There is the clever touch, such as the wordplay in pieces about sharing the peace contactlessly or geological formations found in church, but often he is just plain funny, such as the scene of retrieving a balloon stuck in the rafters.

With observation, warning, imagination, empathy and wit, there really is more than something for everyone here.

(And for anyone who missed this as a Christmas present, his 2020 calendar is available).

Derek Walker