Idol Chatter

There are comics strips about babies, romance, the Army, sports, teenager, knights, Vikings and car mechanics. Ready for charitable Christians? King Features Syndicate, the purveyor of daily comics from “Apartment 3G” to “Zits” has introduced “Heaven’s Love Thrift Shop,” a strip by Kevin Frank, in which the shop’s three employees, including a zany 20-something named Dag, subtly and not so subtly promote the Christian message.

Frank is certainly not the first Christian to work pious programming into comic strips. Charles Schultz acknowledged that “Peanuts” was grounded in his faith, a fact Robert L. Short developed in his 1965 book “The Gospel According to Peanuts.” Al Hartley, who drew “Archie,” composed special Christian versions of the famous carrot-top and his friends. “Heaven’s Love Thrift Shop,” however, is considered the first explicitly Christian strip offered by a mainstream syndicator. (And it will appear only on Sundays.)

It goes without saying that Frank says he doesn’t consider his to be a “Christian” strip. “I like to think there’s an audience for it among all kinds of people,” he recently told the Associated Baptist Press. And in a way he’s right. Though the strip’s eponymous shop is dedicated to helping the homeless and other indigent folks, I haven’t been seen any of them in the strip (so far). The cute setups and mild zingers, about par for newspaper comedy, depend more on current topics like cell phones and caffeine consumption for their humor than the Good Book.

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