cover image The Holy Ghost: A Spirited Comic

The Holy Ghost: A Spirited Comic

John Hendrix. Abrams ComicArts, $18.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-4197-5543-9

Cartoonist Hendrix’s first collection is an amusing and sensitive exploration of Christian belief. In single-page comics, the Holy Ghost collects prayers, ponders beauty, and thwarts evil spirits. The majority, though, are conversations between the Ghost and an unnamed squirrel who vacillates between yearning to find meaning in pain and refusing to accept that God exists, with the periodic appearance of a fundamentalist badger. In a masterful avoidance of treacle, Hendrix probes tender ideas like seeing God in emptiness and ugliness, the challenge of loving the outsider, and cosmic insignificance. There are niche Christian theology jokes (Ghost gives the squirrel the ability to speak French on Pentecost and claims God made farts to remind humans of their inner state of decay) alongside more universal laughs (Ghost’s reflection on beauty is undercut by bird poop). Hendrix portrays a surprising range of emotions with his simple character drawings. The Ghost plays across a range with only empty eyes and a mouth, and squirrel’s tight lines play into his tensions. The handwritten text adds a charming earnestness. Hendrix sidesteps the try-hard “cool pastor” problem and also the schmaltz of Precious Moments. It’s a delightful trove that’ll provoke reflection and grins. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Apr.)