Heaven Forbid! Volume 1 Review

The quality and quantity of Christian comics has been steadily increasing over the last few years, and this little gem can be added to the growing list.

Heaven Forbid Volume 1: Not Getting Religion is a collection of writer/artist Dan Conner’s web comics which poke fun at the day to day adventures of average Christians, and let’s face it, if there’s one thing we don’t do enough of at times, it’s look at ourselves through humorous eyes. Collected from his Crazy Good Comics which Conner updates with new material every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

This volume begins with a guy and girl discussing an upcoming church potluck dinner and although it’s not necessarily a hilarious introduction, it does ease the reader into the narrative flow. The storytelling is very charming and smooth, making the whole volume easy to digest all in one sitting. There are cute asides that reveal what the characters are really thinking, and although in the potluck dinner, we don’t get proper introductions until about a third of the way in, it does work well as a realistic representation of formal gatherings. The dialogue is never mean, but is youthful, sometimes thought provoking, and often humorous.

As one of the men says in perhaps the book’s funniest line, he’s a bachelor who lives by himself, so he “shouldn’t have the same expectations as everybody else.”

At times the dialogue and zany conversations even reminded me of nerdy sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. After the potluck-centered story, the next few pages are filled with mainly shorter multi-page gags that range from Christianity’s hijacking of pop culture for its own ends, as seen in the great Transfarmers: Farmers in Disguise ad for a Bible school, to a discussion of mythical creatures from Scripture to wearing merchandise of Marvel Comics superhero Thor. There’s even a strip that explains the title of this collection, plus a look at the power of forgiving a pet cat, conversations about the phrases, “Ask Jesus into your heart,” and “Jesus is my co-pilot,” the point of nativity scenes, and more. It’s a great reminder to us Christians that we sometimes do exist in our own world, and hopefully amusing reminders like Heaven Forbid, will wake us out of our occasionally insular thinking.

The main group of characters, such as the aforementioned Charles, and Chelsea and the guitar novice Carter (who joins the delightfully named band The Turkish Delights) are the focus of this book, but there are extras, such as one which focuses on Chelsea’s pet cat and mouse, Purby and McDeermid.

Conner’s art is simple, to be sure, but that’s what gives it its charm. Rendered in black and white, the faces are always expressive, and although it’s a dialogue heavy comic, the difficult comedic rhythms of sequential art are splendidly achieved in these pages. It’s real, relatable, and funny.

Seeing as this is Conner’s first solo comic, after working on Pirates vs Ninjas for Antarctic Press and Graphic Horror: Dracula and Graphic Shakespeare: The Tempest, for Abdo Books, he can only improve in his storytelling abilities.

Connor has a unique, and strong, voice and I hope to see more of it in print.

Heaven Forbid is a 112 page collection and is 3available from Lamp Post Publishing and Amazon.

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