Jeffrey Weiss, the religion reporter for the Dallas Morning News, wondered why Tom Batuik made no mention of religion, prayers, god or faith in the story-line of Funky Winkerbean character Lisa Moore’s death.
End-of-life is when people and their loved ones often confront their spiritual beliefs. But not a single strip mentioned God, clergy or prayers. All we know about her memorial service is that it included a poem by Thomas Moore, a secular Irish poet.
Maybe Mr. Batiuk didn’t want to tag her with a particular religion? But surely he could have hinted that Lisa (or her friends and family) had considered the ideas of a supreme being, soul or meaning beyond the material world.
Yes, Mr. Batiuk told me this week, the absence of faith talk was no accident. Basically, he was afraid that any hint of religion would offend some readers.
“I didn’t want to step on any toes,” he said. “I wanted to make it as open as possible for as many people as possible.”
Ahem. He’s killing off one of his most popular characters, and he didn’t want to step on any toes?
I find it telling that an artist who frequently pushes the envelope of his medium â?? he’s also taken on such hot buttons as alcoholism, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and adult illiteracy â?? flinched when it came to religion.
It’s still a third rail in American culture.
To those ready to comment on this topic, this is not an open invitation to bash religion. Try to keep the topic respectful and on topic: the use (or avoiding of use) of religion in the comics.