Daryl Cagle Daryl Cagle, 6/25/2008 [Archive]

George Carlin at the Pearly Gates

I e-mailed a few cartoonists about their George Carlin at the Pearly Gates cartoons. Here are my questions:

... You and lots of other cartoonists drew a memorial cartoon of George Carlin at the Pearly Gates.  Carlin was a very vocal atheist and the question sometimes comes up about what the cartoonist has in mind by drawing a memorial cartoon featuring dead celebrity in a religious scene from a religion the celebrity didn't choose.  There was a lot of commentary about this when George Harrison died, and was depicted so often at the Christian Pearly Gates.

Does the cartoonist's religious view trump the celebrity's religion in an obituary cartoon?  For a Christian cartoonist, who believes that his own religion is the only correct religion, is an obituary cartoon an opportunity to show that the celebrity's religious views were wrong - as the dead celebrity would surely know by now, as he is really at the Pearly Gates right now?

Thanks,

Daryl

Daryl,

Firstly, I am not sure I have ever said through conversation or my cartoons that as "a Christian cartoonist, (I) believe that (my) own religion is the only correct religion..." and, frankly, I resent the implication.

However, I will try and respond to your question regarding this specific cartoon. I did, indeed, mean George Carlin at the Pearly Gates as an irreverent commentary within the cartoon. I readily admit I have drawn my fair share of pearly gates and crying mascots in the past. But recently I have tried to take my inspiration from the obit cartoons of Pat Oliphant. When he does do them he places them in some kind of context of the persons life and impact. With George Carlin, (of whom I consider myself a fan), his contribution to comedy and social discourse was to tear down the walls of conformity and ridicule the overly serious. His anti-religion screeds grew longer and more serious near the end.

Hence, a cartoon I hoped would be viewed as irreverent. At least to those familiar with the subject.

I trust this answered your question.

God bless you,

- Scott

Scott Stantis, Alabama, The Birmingham News.

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Daryl,

My cartoon was an artistic poke/joke made at the expense of those who actually believe in some kind of real but other-world notion called "heaven" where serious stuff supposedly takes place.

Atheist Carlin (assuming he ended up in "heaven' which, of course, he did not because there is no such place as the Pearly Gates) would have had a great time shakin' up the joint--and hopefully St. Pete would have appreciated the show.

In cartooning, an artist's religious or non-religious views often make their way into their artistic commentary in clear, iconoclastic and sarcastic ways--and at the end of that process, the inkslinger's view trumps everything.

Myself, I am --like Carlin was--an atheist.

So, in George's unholy name, here's a light-hearted (but to-the-heart-of-the-matter) anti-Hosanna "Hoo-rah!"

Steve Benson

Steve Benson, Arizona Republic

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Hi Daryl

Thanks for the email. I am not in the least religious, but I often do obit cartoons on famous people using the "pearly gates" setting.

It's not that I actually believe in such a scenario, but, much like other metaphors and symbols we cartoonists use, it immediately puts the reader in touch with the situation, regardless of their religious beliefs. George Carlin's personal views on religion never entered into it for me. The first thing I look for in a cartoon to honor the passing of someone famous, is some kind of punch line that reflects that person's influence or effect on our world. For me, it was Carlin's famous 7 words that you can't say on television. The purpose of the cartoon is to inform readers of George Carlin's passing, and remind them of his lasting influence on our culture. To me, the fact that it has a heavenly setting doesn't take away from that message.

Best Regards

Steve Nease

Steve Nease, Oakville Ontario, Steve is the daily cartoonist for the Oakville Beaver - E-Mail Steve -- Visit an archive of the artist's most recent cartoons in the drop menu at the right. Click on the cartoon to e-mail it to a friend.

Hi, Daryl,

That was an interesting cartoon for me, because I was ( and still AM , of course ) a George Carlin fan, and one of my favorite bits of his was the one in which he pointed out the swiss cheese - like holes in Catholic theology behind eating fish on Friday.

The setting of my cartoon is not really intended as a " George went to heaven " scenario, but shows him in a sort of friendly but slightly contentious exchange with St. Peter involving Carlin's classic" Seven words you can't say on television" bit. Maybe in that setting, it's an opportunity to point out that while some standards morph and shift - you can now say those words on television - some remain constant. So I was using George Carlin's passing as an opportunity to try to point out some truth and irony - something I think Mr. Carlin would have approved of.

Thanks, Daryl

John Deering

John Deering,The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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Mike Luckovich, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Ken Catalino -- National/Syndicated.

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Jerry Holbert, Boston, MA, The Boston Herald

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Gary Brookins, Virginia -- The Richmond Times-Dispatch

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Chris Britt, Springfield, IL -- The State Journal-Register

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Jim Day, The Las Vegas Review Journal, Nevada

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When I was on my recent speaking tour of China, I showed a bunch of Pearly gate cartoons (I've drawn my share of Pearly Gates cartoons, too). Often a question would come form the audience, "Are you a Christian?" I would reply, "I'm not much of anything." And the questioner would reply, "No, no, I think you are a Christian." - Daryl

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