Being Friends, Being Safe, Being Catholic


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» November 17, 2023


Being Friends, Being Safe, Being Catholic - Comic #01 (BFSC)
Art by Ron Frenz, Charles Barnett III & Buzz Setzer - © 2007 Catholic Archdiocese of New York

Being Friends, Being Safe, Being Catholic. Comic #01 (BFSC) Art by Ron Frenz, Charles Barnett the Third and Buzz Setzer - © 2007 Catholic Archdiocese of New York

First Published: December 11, 2009

Download the PDF

This one's a doozy. We've strayed away from Chick-Land for a brief vacation to pick on the Catholics for a change. While it is a well known fact that Chick himself regards the Catholic Church as everything from the Whore of Babylon to just a bunch of idolatrous mackerel snappers, they've clearly decided to throw their hat into the ring with this tract aimed at grade school children. It seems as though this comic was released to combat the bad press they have received over the last few years over their various sex scandals. And they have truly created a work of art with this one. Let's get to it!

Commentators: Jessica. Andrew.

  Jessica   Andrew  





Page Index
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Commentators Jessica Andrew

oPage 1

Cover / Page 1 JessicaJessica Those poor kids are about to get assaulted by that radioactive crown of thorns while the angel looks on creepily.

I also like the multi-ethnic "We Are the World" halo gallery over there. Trying to shove in multiple minorities always does wonders for one's credibility.
AndrewAndrew I think the illustrator took his or her cues from the Marvel Comics “floating head cover,” see here for an example), even though that’s been out of fashion for well over a decade.

Actually, with those halos, I wonder if those ethnic kids are supposed to be dead/angels.
JessicaJessica The cover is so bright and cheerful. It's actually a shame the rest of the comic isn't like this.


o Page 2

Page 2 JessicaJessica "We can talk to God whenever we want."

It's easy, just talk to yourself!
AndrewAndrew This makes God out to be like an always-available, free psychiatrist.
JessicaJessica "It's so super to see you!!! Would you like fries with that?"
AndrewAndrew Is it blasphemous to say the angel is kinda hot? (If it is, do I care? No.) If I have a guardian angel, I want her to look like that.


o Page 3

Page 3 JessicaJessica I'm starting to think this crown of thorns follows these kids around like a friggin' Sword of Damocles.
AndrewAndrew I like to imagine that it’s a ragged tear through the thin fabric of reality that’s going to suck these innocent Catholics into a world they never made!
JessicaJessica "You are made in God's image..." but not for long!
AndrewAndrew You know, if I were God, I would have made myself look a whole lot cooler than human beings, who resemble nothing so much as hairless chimpanzees with flat faces. Oh, did I say that? No, image of God, image of God… that’s the ticket!


o Page 4

Page 4 Jessica Jessica"Only humans have bodies."

Ummm... I don't think that one is quite right there...
Andrew AndrewI guess they mean as opposed to angels, because obviously animals have bodies. I don’t remember if animals have souls or not according to Catholicism… but of course this is a comic book, not a theology text.

And what a busy comic it is! This has the most crowded layout of any page so far. I can figure out what the circles in the 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, and 6 o'clock positions represent, but I have no idea what’s supposed to be happening at 9 o'clock.

Here we have Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fishes, then making water into wine, and then dying on the cross. And over on the left, we have Jesus giving directions to a couple of lost wine merchants.


o Page 5

Page 5 Andrew AndrewOh dear, the great morass that is free will. I have to admit; one of the things I admire about Catholicism is that the theologians have long since worked all the details out of how all of their various concepts are supposed to work. Most other denominations just kind of put their fingers in their ears and go “lalalalalala!” about the mechanics of it all.

Nevertheless, I’ll reiterate: what’s the point of giving man free will if you are going to punish him for acting in ways you don’t like. It’s just like when parents give little children choices such as giving them a ten dollar bill to spend on “whatever they want” but secretly hoping he’ll buy something responsible, like a box of pencils, and then getting mad when they buy 7 Snickers bars. “When I said whatever you want, I didn’t mean THAT!”

“You get to choose.” However, the police may also have something to say about it.


o Page 6

Page 6 Jessica JessicaThis bully is beating the ever-loving crap out of this kid while Stephen Colbert and Dame Edna back there just look on in disgust, but they don't actually come to help him.
Andrew AndrewI guess they are supposed to be running to help. V.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y. Hey, shouldn’t the guardian angel do something? I mean, if there are guardian angels and they don’t do anything, then what good are they?

Being a bully makes you less God-like? Funny, I always thought God came across like somebody’s drunken, abusive stepfather, particularly in the Old Testament. “Dammit Job, why do you make me hit you? Why do you make me so angry!”
Jessica JessicaAlso, note how the angel's flowing, heavenly robe has been traded in for a sleazy pair of Huck Finn jeans and sneaker ensemble. Everyone knows chicks aren't supposed to wear pants.
Andrew AndrewI guess they thought the robe would crowd the scene. But high-water pants?


o Page 7

Page 7 Jessica JessicaI know a lot of people find comfort in the concept of Guardian Angels (just ask those Oklahoma City people), but isn't it something of a bad idea to suggest to kids there is a whole cadre of invisible people who follow them around and keep them from harm if they just pray enough. "I know I'm not supposed to play in the street, but I said my 'Hail Marys' this morning, so I'll be fine."

Also, the angel is back in her robe again.
Andrew AndrewAnd gigantic! Either that or we have a problem with perspective. Actually, in some panels (like the one above) the angel is “in the scene”, in others (like this one), she’s “in front”


o Page 8

Page 8 Andrew AndrewOur angel looks a little bit… I dunno… possessed, here.


o Page 9

Page 9 Jessica Jessica... and back to jeans. And this time she's traded the Nikes for some sensible flip-flops. Is this a religious tract or a Sears catalog?
Andrew AndrewI guess maybe when she’s “in the scene” she wears pants. Why? I do not know.
Jessica JessicaChild molesters are really out of touch these days. Looks like he's tempting the kid with a cell phone and a pack of stamps.
Andrew AndrewHey, a pack of stamps! That’s something that all eight-year-olds want! Could this guy be any more of a parody of a child molester?


o Page 10

Page 10 Jessica Jessica"Take the damn chocolates, kid! TAKE THE GODDAMN CHOCOLATES!!! Put 'em in YOUR MOUTH!!! Don't chew, just SWALLOW!!!"
Andrew AndrewSo wait, is that supposed to be the same guy, or is this “two versions” of how gift giving might play out. “In scene one, the friendly man gives your parents a savings bond, which you will never see again. In the second scene, the man instead gives you chocolate, but you wake up (if you wake up) trussed to the bottom of a windowless conversion van somewhere near Dubuque! Choose your own adventure!”
Jessica Jessica"Your mission and your life end here."


o Page 11

Page 11 Jessica JessicaLeisure Suit Larry says "No Adults Allowed!"

Though you know, it already looks like he's got a full load in his party van there.

"I'm collecting stupid little boys... and I takes 'em to PLEASURE ISLAND!!!"
Andrew AndrewYou know, one way this is a bit like Chick is how the “bad” characters are stereotypes. They all resemble greasy caricatures of Italian/Hispanic men, while our heroes are white. Interesting when you consider how many Italians and Hispanics are Catholic.

I like the angel’s “get a load of this guy!” expression.


o Page 12

Page 12 Jessica Jessica"...and a '#&@@!!!' to you too, Buddy!"

Angel chick is going to pop that kid's head like a pimple... or... well...
Andrew AndrewOw, my freakin’ ears!


o Page 13

Page 13 Andrew AndrewRemember up above where I asked, “Could this guy be any more of a parody of a child molester?” Yeah, well he could look like this guy.
Jessica JessicaWhere is his neck?!?! God in Heaven WHERE IS HIS NECK!!!

"Nothing moves the Blob!!!"

"Will you be my friend..." Follow the white rabbit, Neo.


o Page 14

Page 14 Jessica JessicaThe door should be open or have an enormous cross shaped window in it!

The kid is climbing into his own body bag so Dr. Niles Caulder over there can beat him to death with that snow shovel behind the door with greater ease.
Andrew AndrewWhen I see the guy’s posture and hand gesture, all I can think is *snap* “Ok, now bend over and spread wide.”

Is that another guardian angel back there? Why haven’t we seen her before? Or maybe she’s the priest’s angel, there to protect him from unjust accusations of child abuse.
Jessica JessicaI think it would be awesome if the two angels got together and had an epic battle with flaming swords and the like over whether the kid's accusations are actually heeded, or whether the priest just gets "reassigned."


o Page 15

Page 15 Jessica JessicaOnly parent and doctors are cool enough to see your "bathing suit zone." Because everyone knows neither parents nor doctors would ever take inappropriate advantage of your body.
Andrew AndrewThat’s a problem with stuff like this. “Tell your parents.” What if your parents are the bad people? “Tell your doctor.” Ditto. Etc. etc.
Jessica JessicaNice one piece on the angel, though.
Andrew AndrewShe seems to fluctuate in age. Now she’s a kid, instead of a helpful adult. Also, there’s another angel rocking what looks like a tankini in the background, with a male angel behind her. Wait, I didn’t think angels had genders.
Jessica JessicaI suppose it is better than some of the more medieval depictions of angels. You know, flaming wheels within wheels with eight wings and a hundred mouths and what not. I think it would take more than a tankini to pretty that up.


o Page 16

Page 16 Andrew AndrewWait; God gave grown-ups a special job? You mean on top of dealing with a dispiriting world that mocks everything we were taught to believe as children? Other than trying to keep body and soul together without the hope of a better life? Other than…

Ahem. Yes. A special job.
Jessica JessicaSomeone's bitter...
Andrew AndrewOur angel is floating now. Easier than drawing feet. Maybe Rob Liefeld could take some lessons.


o Page 17

Page 17 Andrew AndrewYou can talk to these floating heads! Your clueless friends! Or this lesbian tennis coach, this dried up prune, Spike Lee, or mean old officer MacGregor!

See, here at least they acknowledge that one of these special people might also be a child molester. I guess you go by law of averages that you won’t know more than one pervert.


o Page 18

Page 18 Jessica JessicaAh... we seem to have temporarily stumbled into the back of a placemat at a Chuck-E-Cheese's.
Andrew AndrewI guess they figured we needed some activities to round out the comic. I wonder if kids are subjected to this at Sunday school.

Awesome Angel? Is that like, her name?
Jessica Jessica"AWESOME ANGEL!"

"Thanks, Charlie."


o Page 19

Page 19 Jessica JessicaMarch onward children! Conquer all in the name of the One Winged Angel!

They're all wearing identical jump suits and sneakers. Heaven's Gate, anyone?
Andrew Andrew“You will always have true friends in your life!” Except those times when you find yourself broken and alone, trying in vain to piece together what went wrong! At all other times, yeah!


o Page 20

Page 20 Andrew AndrewI like the half-assed word-salad title: “Angel’s Selfless Word Scramble Stuff.” That’s a bit too much like “Yahoo Serious Festival.”

“Stuff”? Why not “shit we threw together at the last minute to help make the comic an even number of pages!”
Jessica Jessica"Tresrants..." They're like regular rants... only four-dimensional.

"Roteh Ligeronis!!!" Wingardium Leviosa! Or perhaps "Ia! Ia! Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!" Magic is strictly verboten. Shame on all of you!
Andrew AndrewIt also doubles as a generic fantasy name generator. “Massetsalc, son of Meneise, conqueror of Lublesi.”


o Page 21

Page 21 Jessica JessicaUmmm... Mary appears to be significantly younger than Jesus there. Continuity Error!
Andrew Andrew“Jesus, wow” is a little too much like “Catholicism, Wow!” Buddy Christ indeed.
Jessica JessicaAlso, we've got Tiny Tim over there with his cane in a tuxedo. Kid's got some threads!
Andrew AndrewI suspect that he’s not actually handicapped, but merely struts around with a suit and cane, lording it over the other children while imitating some rich uncle, or the Monopoly man. Surprised he doesn’t have a monocle.
Jessica JessicaBirds love Jesus.
Andrew AndrewAnd he loves them back. He’s paying more attention to the bird than to his hordes of adoring fans. Maybe that’s why so many prayers don’t get answered… Jesus is too busy with his career in ornithology.


o Page 22

Page 22 Jessica JessicaOne last lovely color panel.
Andrew AndrewOur angel is a redhead! It’s hard to tell on the cover, but it sure looks like that here!
Jessica JessicaWell, you know what they say about redheads Say no more. Say no more.

Is that the coat of arms for the Vatican or something?
Andrew AndrewI think it’s the symbol for the Archdiocese of New York, which published the comic. You can see it in the background here. Odd how there’s no identification of that, or of who drew the comic.
Jessica JessicaTake good note of those phone numbers, kids. Next time you are whacked off your ass and drunk dialing they might just come in handy!


o Conclusion

Andrew AndrewWell, the comic itself doesn’t leave as bad a taste as anything by Chick. Catholics clearly have better artists, for one thing. “Being Catholic” comes across as entirely reasonable and welcoming, unlike Chick’s “everyone different is bad” raving. Of course, this comic assumes the reader is already Catholic, and so it doesn’t try to convert you. Still, compare Chick’s “Why No Revival?” which is similarly aimed at Chick’s fellow believers. The difference in tone is amazing.

The elephant in the room here is the sordid history of child abuse within the Catholic Church that preceded this comic’s publication, and which is the reason for its existence. It’s obvious why the Church would want to do something about the problem, what’s less clear is why they waited so long, to the point where “Catholic priest” is a punch line for the same type of jokes that prominently feature fellow “Jesus Juice” enthusiast Michael Jackson.

Still, if the Church (or specifically the Archdiocese of New York) wants to get into the religious tract business, then I say more power to them. There’s already another comic out on roughly the same themes, we might review it at some point.


o Further Reading

  • Vintage Page

  • Catholic coloring book warns US kids of pedophile priests (December 4, 2007).
    Agence France-Presse (via the Wayback Machine)

  • An Anti-Abuse Coloring Book by Jessica Bennett (December 1, 2007).

  • Comments Section at Boolean Union