Crabcake Confidential: Insert Image
At our church, the coffee is super weak. It might as well be brown water, since there’s no perceivable coffee flavor to it at all. This may be surprising, given that it’s located in the Pacific Northwest, the epicenter of espresso and latte connoisseurs in the world. The reason it’s so weak is simple, though: there are a lot of elderly folks in attendance, and strong coffee may be too much for their palates.
The odd tangibles of the daily operation of a church can often be very absurd, and it’s the kind of comedy observed in Wes Molebash’s Insert Image, a relatively new webcomic only a few strips into its run.
The webcomic takes place at Paper City Church. Judging from the splash panel, seems to be based in a converted movie theater. (It’s a little detail that I like, since most pop culture depictions take place at either a grand cathedral or a tidy white church with a steeple. Most of the churches I’ve been to have been considerably shabbier.) Our protagonists are two young folks working the information technology side of things: JP, the somewhat clueless web designer who looks a little like Fry from Futurama, and Miles, the bespectacled creative director.
Insert Image pokes good-natured fun at some of the most common practices that most church-goers can relate to. The couple running the marriage ministry, for example, are seen as a little unnervingly peppy. Miles has to brief his staff on the proper use of social media when they start hijacking the church’s official site for personal use.
Mr. Molebash (I’m never gonna get used to typing that name… sounds like a character in a Mother Goose nursery rhyme) knows that the situations he’s presenting require a little bit of explaining, since they’re not necessarily common knowledge … even within the “Christian subculture” (as Mr. Molebash calls it), which is different and unique from one church to the next. The explanations, though, can sometimes be a little wordy. Take, for instance, a strip where he talks about a “Viking scramble.” What the heck is that? A new dish at Denny’s? No clue. Thus, in a long string of exposition, JP describes what he did on a Viking scramble (which is some sort of survivalist obstacle course).
I’m of two minds about this: first, since JP is covered in dirt and twigs, we already have a good idea of what a “Viking scramble” is, so you could probably get away with a shorter recollection (enough to show JP’s enthusiasm). Second, if you were going to stick with the anecdote, perhaps stretching it over a strip or two but illustrating the events would have made for a better comic. It seems that the punchline, for the most part, gets buried in the execution.
Still, it is a unique subject matter. In only a few strips, Mr. Molebash conveys both the warmth and the underlying tension of working in a church environment. Yet, while there is a slightly cynical eye toward some practices, there’s a sense of optimism and community overall.