Brief Visits

Bizarro 01-05-14 HedrBizarro 01-05-14 WEB(To see any image on this page largerated, click on any object in any cartoon that starts with an “S”.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Baby Cheeses.

I was once on the back deck of a ship, tossing pieces of bread up into the air to watch seagulls catch them. After a while, I held them up in my hand and they would dip down and take them from me. Eventually, I decided to hold one in my mouth and, as predicted, a seagull swooped down and took it from my mouth. It also cut my lip pretty well with its razor-sharp, man-eating beak. The seagull in my title panel above was drawn from memory as the last thing I saw before I got this scar on my lip. Try it sometime, it’s fun.

Today’s  cartoon is one of my favorites, of late. I love the notion that even though this poor slob is stranded on a tiny island, he cannot escape evangelists. I currently live in a guest house behind a “real” house, so I’m removed from the street by about sixty yards and a locked gate. I love that I don’t have to answer the door for strangers. I often see well-dressed, door-to-door Jesus salesmen in the neighborhood as I come and go, however, and I can’t help but wonder if anyone ever lets these people in and then converts to their faith. For the people trudging up and down the street, I always wonder if they ever, ever, even once have any success in their evangelistic efforts, or if it is the payoff is simply the process of sacrifice as they walk mile after mile being rejected time and time again.

As a person who was taught to use my brain in all things, gather evidence, and then decide for myself about any given situation, I find it almost impossible to believe that anyone has ever been converted to a new religion by a door-to-door salesman. I’m sure I’m wrong, it’s just that I am loathe to imagine a person so willing to accept an enormous, enternal, invisible world full of super heroes and villains from the mouth of a random stranger. Takes all kinds, I guess.

VINTAGE JAZZ: Here’s another favorite cartoon of mine, this one from 1999. I came up with this idea while thinking about the actual physics of a “bottomless pit,” if such a thing existed. I enjoy pointless mental exercises like this. I guess that’s one reason I’m a cartoonist. Another reason is that it keeps me off the streets where evangelists can accost me.bizarro 01-17-99 BottomlessPitWEB

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45 thoughts on “Brief Visits

  1. First of all, I think your current cartoon is, more than just a comment on the ubiquity of door-to-door evangelists, a solid analogy for the practicality of Religion in general. If you can’t promise your God will get me off the island, or keep me from ending up ON the island, I’d rather concentrate on my own solutions, thank you. Anyway, it’s a good variation of the historically-overused “desert island cartoon” cliche. As for your classic, this looks EXACTLY like how I grew up to imagine a “Bottomless Pit” to work, although there’s an alternate theory put forth by the new (excellent but underrated) cartoon “Gravity Falls” (title not related – they waited until the 14th episode to do it). http://gravityfalls.wikia.com/wiki/Bottomless_Pit! Not to be spoilery, but it’s bottomless because you fall until you somehow come out the top again.

  2. My mom succeeded twice in convincing Jehova’s Witnesses evangelists to do domestic chores for her. She tells me that having to listen to their drivel is a small price to pay for maid services.

      • When I was the director of a senior center I persuaded two Mormon missionaries to come and volunteer at the center, when they came to convert me. They spent a whole day at the center and the seniors loved them!

    • I was recently told by a Mormon that missionaries *must* help when asked. They are there to serve. So next time they come to your door he suggested you ask them to go clean the garage!

    • I’ve only had one Jehovah’s Witness come to my door in my life (well, for the last few decades I’ve lived in gated security buildings, which may have something to do with it). One day when I was in my 20s there was a knock on the door and I found a nicely-dressed young man who said he was from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Noticing that I had a lit cigarette in one hand, he told me that they have an excellent stop-smoking program. I wasn’t interested in quitting smoking, but I’ve always been a bit mad for Bible trivia (inculcated into me before I broke free at age 13). I remembered a similarly-inclined doctor friend once telling me he was sure he’d just found THE most obscure thing in the bible: the Urim and Thummim,. Wow! So I said to the nice young man “I don’t want to quit smoking, but you guys are supposed to know a lot about the bible, right?” and he said “Well, we try” so I said “Okay, what are the Urim and Thummim?” He squinched up his eyes and thought and said “The temple.. the high priest … the ephod … they’re the jewels on the breastplate of the high priest in the temple!” Well I was just overcome with delight. What a trove of trivia this guy might be! “Come in, come in!” I said. You want a beer? A cup of coffee? A joint?” Well he was just backpedaling like nobody’s business, so I never did get to pick his brain, and moreover I think he may have put some kind of secret sign on my gate ’cause I never got another one of those again.

    • Was taking tokes on a Saturday morning, 1975. Knock at the door. Behold a Jehovah’s Witness. My very first thought was ‘Well, this should be fun’. And it was. She came to understand that stoners are actually very nice people for the most part. Oh, she was freaked the heck out when I fired up a couple more hits, but all in all, quite cool with it. Explained my aversion to believing in ghosts, especially the all knowing variety. Never thought of having her do the dishes though. Doh!

  3. Love this idea, reminds me of a similar concept about what’s the single most important survival item to have if you ever get lost. Matches? Whistle? Swiss Army Knife? Nope, it’s a deck of cards. If you are really, seriously hopelessly lost, get them out, and start playing a nice game of Solitaire; within 5 minutes, someone will materialize out of the Cosmos to stand over shoulder, and tell you to play that 3 of Hearts on the 4 of Spades, and you’re found!

    • Truer words were never written, Ken… or try to take a nap, or, if you have children, simply attempt to go to the bathroom…. instant “found”.

  4. I was at a guitar store recently, and there were about ten young women, all shiny and pretty, smiling and happy, in the acoustic guitar room. They were playing singing an upbeat quasi-religious-sounding folksy tune. I then saw that they all had Mormon name tags. I think this is how they warm up for a day on the streets, converting coffee-drinkers to a lifetime of caffeine-free subservience. Key of G.

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  6. About evangelistic success, at least in third-world countries like mine, you’d be surprised to know what people would do in return for small government-printed color paper with numbers on them.

  7. I too share a fondness for pointless mental exercise and I conclude that if the pit was dug at the proper angle on the edge of the Earth’s circumference the toon depicts an actual possibility. I have insufficient pointless interest to calculate the proper angle (and likely insufficient mathematical ability). I suspect, however, without these proper calculations your hapless pit falling person would simply yo yo a bit at the midsection of the pit and simply hover there for eternity. (Or get fried to crisp somewhere a couple miles down?) Endless pointless possible and impossible exercise!

    • Michael Legel, you are pretty much correct in your hunch. There are issues such as air resistance (put the guy on a skateboard!) and running into the side due to the coriolis force (aren’t you glad we put him on a skateboard?) but you’re right, he would bob around the midpoint. The really bizarre bit (and given a few hours I could dredge up how to calculate this) is that no matter which way you go through the Earth, the transit time is always the same, something around 40 minutes as I recall.

  8. Sad but true. I actually know of one unfortunate individual who was converted by such h a Jesus salesman. Like you, he lived in a hidden-from-the-street abode, so the fact that these two evangelical nomads even found him proved to him they could only have done so with a God GPS unit.

    • Sorry about the above typo that left the extra “h” in the above. Must have been some Freudian thing because I certainly would have told these seekers of suckers to get the H out.

  9. My mother would interrupt the evangelist’s spiel and say, “I’ll be glad to listen to what you have to say about your religion, after I tell you all about mine.” They all turned tail and ran. Too bad for them, as my mother knew next to nothing about Catholicism and it would have been a very short talk!

  10. A drummer friend I worked with for years swore that after a few incidents of evangelists at the door, he got the bright idea to look at the two young guys who stood before him and say, with an unmistakable leer, “Hell, Yes…I want to talk about where I’ll spend eternity! Let’s get out of these clothes, get in the hot tub, and get down TO IT!” He said they left, nervously, and must have reported him and had him put on a list, because nobody pushing religion has knocked on his door since. True or not – I liked the story..

  11. Sooooo funny! I never once thought about coming out the other side of a bottomless pit (wouldn’t he be Chinese? or wouldn’t the observers be? since we were often sent into the backyard to dig to China when Mom was tired)

    And I once sat patiently and listened to a pair of nice Mormon boys give me the WHOLE spiel, I even gave them lemonade. Then when they finished and prepared to leave I said, “Oh no. I listened to you tell me all about your religion, now you sit and listen to me tell you all about mine.” That was well over 30 years ago and NOT ONE Mormon evangelist has knocked on my door since even though my neighborhood fairly teems with them.

  12. As a Christian Anarchist, I often experience a great deal of frustration with the large number of Christians who are concerned with “salvation” rather than meeting the needs of the poor, oppressed, or desert-island-bound. I really like this as an example of trying to bring a message of good news without bringing any REALLY good news to an audience who may be hungry or hurting.

    Whether this was any part of your thinking in creating this strip, I got a good laugh out of it, and I hope it brings appropriate perspective to religious persons who may be focused on the wrong things. Nice work, man.

  13. In my younger days, when I had more patience for such nonsense, I would do my best to convert the proselytizers that darkened my doorway to atheism, agnosticism, Satanism, or whatever religion I made up on the spot. Never worked, but I’m sure I planted some seeds of doubt here and there (I could see it in their beady eyes), so….mission accomplished!

  14. If you don’t mind, I am going to use your tiny island evangelist cartoon in my sermon on 2 Feb.14. It was in the cartoon section of the weekend newspaper here in Kitchener, Ont.The cartoon is an excellent sermon for those who will listen. Thank you.

  15. A while back, my staunchly atheist and highly intellectual mum fell at home and broke her hip. As she was living alone, it could have ended badly, were it not for the local Jehovah’s Witnesses doing a door knock (albeit a day and a half later). Didn’t convert her, but she was ready for a discussion about religion up until the time the ambulance took her away.

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  17. If you think feeding birds from your mouth is fun, you should try shoving a stick in a beehive.

    My definition of funny: Someone else’s pain, shame or misfortune. The more aware of it you are the funnier it is.

    Bob

  18. Great story of proselytizing Mormons from my friend Laurie from Down Under.

    http://churchofrationalism.blogspot.ca/2009/03/and-get-your-kicks-for-free_25.html

    It may be a bit long for here but …

    The Mormons introduced themselves as “Jim” and “Peter” from “The Latter-Day Saints”.

    To their surprise, I immediately asked them in. “Coffee?” I offered. “Er, no thanks,” replied Jim, “but a glass of water would be nice.”

    “Now, fellers, what have you blokes got to say for yourselves?” I enquired, as we sat around the table while Jim got a dirty big book out of his briefcase – a tome that resembled a bible, but which was in fact The Book of Mormon, one of the stupidest wastes of good Tasmanian old-growth forest you might ever see.

    “Do you know anything about our church, Laurie?” asked Jim, who was obviously the senior partner of the Jim and Pete show.

    “Nothing at all,” I lied, wondering what tale of idiocy would shortly be coming my way. Jim, who’d been to Mormon training school by the look of him, asked me straight off (and believe me, I was unprepared for this) “Are you worried by the prospect of spending eternity in hell, Laurie?”

    Well, ten points for announcing your utter stupidity up front, I thought to myself. “Tell me about this hell you speak of, Jim,” I replied more courteously. Jim launched himself into a tirade of imaginary horrors that would have done James Joyce proud. After three or four minutes of this I was becoming both impressed by his reserve of adjectives, and worried about his sanity at the same time.

    Now, it just so happened that, a couple of days previously, I’d had a bit of an altercation with the limb of a tree I’d been removing down in the bottom paddock. The thing had fallen and twisted, sending a smallish branch in my direction. I’d turned to run, just as the branch came down and grazed my back. Nothing serious, but I had some pretty hefty cuts and grazes down my back that made it look like it had come in contact with a cat-o-nine-tails half a dozen times. To tell the truth, I was more pissed off with the thought that it had ripped to pieces a favourite t-shirt that proclaimed “God is dead – now let the bastard rest in peace, motherfuckers.” A sudden thought came to mind.

    “Jim,” I interrupted as speckles of froth were starting to appear around the sides of his mouth, “there’s a bit of a problem I see in your argument, if you don’t mind me saying so. You see, I have a medical condition – well, to tell you the truth, it’s a mental health issue – called Masochism Anxiety Disorder. I know, of course, that it’s irrational, but my psychiatrist tells me there’s no likelihood of a cure for it.”

    “Oh,” said Jim, utterly perplexed.

    “Yeah, it’s a bit of a bugger, actually,” I continued, “because it’s a condition that presents itself as a desire to have pain inflicted upon myself. I enjoy being hurt, to put it simply, and, quite frankly, this ‘hell’ you describe sounds like my idea of the ultimate fun-park. I mean, I’ve made up a few little devices I use down in the shed that involve whips and electric motors and such, but hell sounds like the mother of all torture chambers, and to tell you the truth, I can’t wait to get there.”

    By this stage I could see Peter glancing around as if he was coyly assessing the best possible escape routes out of the place, and he had begun to go several tinges of a whiter shade of pale. Jim was studying his book of Mormon as if he was trying to find a verse or two dedicated to the management and care of the seriously deranged. Fat chance, I thought, as I ploughed on.

    “I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. A couple of days ago I had a good session with my cat-o-nine-tails machine I’ve rigged up. It was most gratifying, I can tell you,” I said with a decidely lewd leer in Pete’s direction.

    I stood up, turned around and pulled my t-shirt up over my shoulders. By this stage, my wounds had become scabrous and evilly red, with blue tinges of bruises on the sides. It was a most prepossessing sight, if I do say so.

    At this, young Pete jumped to his feet with a gasp of horror. It was a bad move, because what little blood had been left in his head cascaded immediately into his feet, and the poor bastard dropped like a rock in a pratfall that would have done Buster Keaton proud. He was out cold on the floor of my kitchen with blood trickling out of a nose that was never going to attract nice young Mormon ladies again.

    Jim jumped to the aid of his mate with little cries of “Oh, oh, oh!”, knocking his glass of water all over the open pages of his book of moronism. At the same time, his face had gone a distinct tinge of green, but, curiously, his ears were the colour of a beetroot. Fuck, I thought, trying to contain my joy, these two could just about pass as the Italian national flag.

    I pulled an old bottle of smelling-salts out of the cupboard, and held the open bottle under Pete’s flattened nose. He came to with the sort of startled cry that Uma Thurman affected in Pulp Fiction. It was a shame I didn’t have a dirty big needle full of adrenalin, I thought. Young Pete would have been seriously discombobulated to wake up with something like that sticking out of his chest.

    Eventually, he was conscious enough, and comforted enough, to whisper to Jim that it might be a good idea if they went home. Jim helped him out the front door, down the path, and into the Landcruiser. “Are you sure you don’t want to take a look at my little chamber of horrors before you go? I enquired solicitously.

    At that, Jim gunned the motor and did an impression up my drive of a Norwegian rally driver. I dusted off my hands and went inside, only to spy Jim’s book of Mormon still sitting on the kitchen table.

    “Ah, kindling!” I exclaimed. “These Mormons come in handy occasionally.”

    And, I must say, the Book of Mormon burns beautifully.

    • A hilarious but completely fabricated story. If Mormon missionaries had truly been involved, the author would have known that they never introduce themselves by their first names, but by the title of “Elder” or “Sister” followed by their last name. And no Mormon introduces himself/herself as from the “Latter-Day Saints”, but from “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” Nice try, though.

  19. My mother is a taxidermist and occasionally makes props for horror movies and haunted house Halloween tourist traps. She had a black-painted boar skull sitting on the porch drying one afternoon when a couple of Witnesses walked up. The expression on their faces when they saw it will be a happy memory of mine for years to come!

  20. Love love love the religion/ island bit! You’ve hit the nail right on the hammer, as they say: if world religions focused more on ACTUALLY HELPING with ACTUAL PROBLEMS in people’s lives — wealth inequality, food deserts, worker exploitation, xenophobia, homelessness, ANYTHING really — instead of on addressing completely made up problems (i.e. whether you wear magic underpants, or say okey-dokey to a good dunking, or what have you), they would (still be making s**t up but) not draw quite so much verbal lambasting from my own sweet self.

    And your commentary is, as per usual, enjoyably hilarious.

    Regarding encounters with religious salesfolk that appear at one’s door… A couple of times, when faced with such religious campaigners, I’ve just completely ignored the religion piece of the convo in order to talk with them earnestly and in great detail about the horrors of animal agriculture and joys of veganism — with video, of course, if possible. I don’t always have the time for this approach to the doorstep proselytizers, but when I do… it’s good clean fun, and I recommend it. ;-)

      • I grew up with the “dig a hole straight down to China” expression, too. However, the man would only have fallen from China if he dug at an angle. The United States mainland is directly opposite not from China, but the Indian Ocean (between Africa and Australia in the southern hemisphere). It makes sense if you look at a globe!

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