Cartoonist Jason Bach is drawn to the truth

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Reading his older brother’s Calvin and Hobbes books ignited Jason Bach’s dream of being a cartoonist. Appropriately, his love of Catholic cartooning began Valentine’s Day 2013, when he put his first saintly sketch on social media. 

“St. Valentine was this big, tough guy and his day’s so sappy and cheesy. The juxtaposition, I thought, was funny,” said Bach. And he wasn’t the only one — the cartoon of St. Valentine was shared thousands of times. “(I thought) maybe there’s something to this whole Catholic comic thing.” 

Since then, he’s shared dozens of his humorous, religious drawings and gained nearly 12,000 fans on his Facebook page: Jason Bach Cartoons. In his imaginative work, St. Patrick and St. Joseph battle it out in a March Madness basketball game. Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI are front men for rock and roll bands. Mary keeps the peace between the disciples during long car rides. 

For this year’s Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, Bach created penitential Valentine’s cards. “Wondering how to combine sappy professions of love with the pain of self-denial? Clearly you’ve never been married,” he wrote. 

“It helps present a different image of Catholics,” Bach said of his cartoons. “Catholics aren’t super stuffy and can make fun of their faith. With saints, (I try) to humanize them and make them real people who make jokes and get into arguments. (I try not) to knock saints off a pedestal, (but) these are real people and they have real personalities.” 

Though he now lives in Alexandria, Bach grew up in Portland, Ore., and was raised an evangelical Christian. He had a crisis of faith his freshman year of college, and becoming depressed, dropped out of school and moved back home. After three months of spiritual reading, he felt renewed in his belief in God and was ready to go back to school. 

After college he picked up reading again, especially books by C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton and Fyodor Dostoevsky. “I read my way into (Catholicism),” he said. On Easter 2011, he became a full member of the Catholic Church. Two years later, his new faith became the source material for his burgeoning cartooning career.

Bach says his artistic inspiration comes from current events, the liturgical calendar and random jokes that pop into his head. His next cartoon will be about Easter. 

Though he used to write with paper and pen, he now uses an electronic drawing tablet that’s connected to his computer. In addition to his own cartoons and freelance work, Bach draws video animations for Coronation Media, a creative studio based in Emmitsburg, Md. He also collaborated with three other artists to release “The Ultimate Catholic Comic Book.” 

“I like the ability of comics to reach people,” Bach said. “A comic is such a quick hit thing and everybody likes it,” which makes it an easy and fun way to evangelize. “People expect books and articles to have messages but tend to put their guard down when it comes to comics. It’s a silly way to get the message out there on the sly,” he said. “I think if you can sneak some truth in there with the laugh, then that's really valuable.” 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018

@ZoeyMaraistACH