For immediate release:
Monk cartoons by a monk
For a year now, we at the tiny boutique publisher About Comics has been reprinting Catholic-themed cartoons from the mid-20th century. Now we've finished off that effort with Cracks in the Cloister
, a book of cartoons about monks, nuns, and the cloistered life created by "Brother Choleric", a pen name of Dom Hubert van Zeller, a monk from the UK's Downside Abbey. This is an insider's view of a world most don't get a real peek into, and its droll British humour reflects on the quirky characters and human foibles of those striving to live the appropriate monastic life.
Cracks in the Cloister
, originally published in 1954, was the first of half a dozen books of such cartoons that Choleric would put out before his death in 1984, all with that insider eye. Beyond that, van Zeller was an author and an impressive sculptor. In his introduction to this new edition, Fr Hugh Somerville Knapman (OSB, Doual Abbey) describes him as a "far-from-boring monk" who had "prodigious talents which have given joy to many a monk, though perhaps some heartburn to an abbot or two."
About Comics launched their Catholic cartoon reprint effort on April 1, 2018 (Easter) with the release of seven books of nun cartoons. This new book, the final one in this reprint project (and the only one printed in color), has a publication date of March 31, 2019, making it a full year. In that time, we've reprinted 21 books originally released between 1950 and 1962, the heyday of Catholic cartoons, as well as three compilation books. Some of these were books by cartoonists who would have long mainstream careers, like Cliff Wirth, Frank Evers, and Al Kilgore. Joe Lane came out of the mainstream - he was a Platinum Age comic book artist - before going into the Catholic specialty. Some were by artists who we can find no other cartooning work at all, such as Don Cornelius (who we're pretty sure was not the Soul Train
host of the same name) or Carol Meiling (who we're pretty sure was
an actual nun.) Most of these books focused on nuns, others on parishioners and male clergy... including one book, The Little Friar
, by outsider Hal Sherman, who was not Catholic at all but Jewish.
(And just to show that we're not so limited, we also published Fun in Church, a book of cartoons by Episcopal reverend Henry Charlton Beck and W. Bolte Gibson.)
We're not entirely locking the door on doing further Catholic volumes - if we could find a copy of Don Cornelius's Angels on Campus
to reproduce, we would likely put out a collection of all three of his books of nun cartoons, and it is tempting to put out an overview book on the history of the "cartoon nunsplosion," but to be frank the market has not been encouraging us to go farther.
Cracks in the Cloister
(ISBN 978-1-949996-08-1) is a 5.5"x8.5" color paperback, 64 pages, with a suggested retail price of $14.99. It is available for order from your favorite independent bookseller or online bookstore.