The Rev. Mike Morgan, who will lead Gainesville First United Methodist Church come September, likes to say that being a pastor is his vocation and being a comic strip artist is his avocation.
The Gainesville (Ga.) Times welcomes a new preacher to town and a new comic strip to it pages.
The Times will be publishing Morgan’s cartoon in the Life section every weekend.
The Times profile gives a good rundown of Mike higher calling and his sideline into the “lower arts”:
“It was while I was living and working there in Macon, when I first felt stirrings to the call of an ordained minister,” he said. “I left my job at The Telegraph and went to Emory University’s Candler School of Theology for three years.”
Morgan said he began his first appointment as a United Methodist pastor in Macon, and soon afterward, his friends at The Telegraph reached out to him with a freelance cartoonist opportunity.
“I said, ‘I would love to be cartooning again, but here’s the thing — the job of an editorial cartoonist is to make people mad,’” Morgan recounted. “I told them I’m not sure that’s what I want to do, and I have no doubt some of my parishioners won’t share all of my political opinions.”
So, Morgan offered a compromise and suggested writing a weekly comic strip about a church.
Michael Thomas Morgan was an advertising artist and editorial cartoonist when he felt the call to become an ordained minister. His initial education earned him an Associate of Fine Arts Degree from Young Harris College in 1977. He continued on to reach a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 1979 from the University of Georgia in Athens. The University campus newspaper, the Red and Black, published his first cartoons while he was an attending student.
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution hired Mike to work in their advertising department, designing ads for the newspapers. He began freelance editorial cartooning and found publication for his comics in The Rockdale Citizen. In 1980, somewhere in the flurry of his creativity, Mike Morgan wed Karen Carter of Waycross, Georgia.
The Macon Telegraph of Macon, Georgia, took Mike on as editorial cartoonist and newsroom artist in February of 1981, and he joined the membership of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. A selection of his cartoons were reprinted in Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985 editions. His work also appeared in several national publications. He was on his way to being a well-established editorial cartoonist, but plans change.
Still an artist and cartoonist at heart, Mike created For Heaven’s Sake in September of 1991. The cartoon uses a fictitious Protestant church called The Mainline Memorial Church as its setting. Its merriment is found in the characters of a church and religious setting, with no malice or intention of denigrating God or other religious groups.
In an interview with Charles Austin of The Record (April 23, 2001), Mike Morgan said, “You have to be careful about quoting Scripture, and it must not seem that you are belittling God and any way.”