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Call Out The Magi Air Force!!

December 12, 2016

If you’re a lucky freelancer (like me), you pick up some lovely clients.

If you’re really lucky (like me), some of those clients become friends.

And if you’re really, really lucky (like me), you meet somebody like Eric Meisfjord.BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

I’ve known Eric for almost 20 years, and he’s given me some of my most enjoyable assignments. But here’s the thing: at some point we discovered we’re in sync to an almost alarming degree.

This includes heavy stuff like faith and philosophy (yes, even a shallow person like me thinks above his station occasionally), and stupid stuff like pop culture: music, movies, and the most arcane trivia you can imagine. Every time I hit Eric with an obscure lyric and line of dialogue, he’s been there before me.

But here’s the truly frightening part: we have the same sense of humor. On the plus side, we know how to make each other laugh.BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

Which brings me– finally– to the subject of this post.BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

For many years Eric asked me to do a Christmas cover for the Inland Register, published by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane. A couple of my favorites referenced the selfie craze and St. Francis. One year I stuck a manger scene under a Spokane bridge.

But my favorite part of these assignments was thinking up the cover concepts and doing the rough sketches. That’s because when I sent Eric my 5 or 6 ideas, I’d always include a ringer: an idea so wild and crazy, I knew he could never use it.

Why include it? Just to make him laugh. And because we have the same sense of humor, I knew he’d be tempted to use it, at least for a nanosecond or two.BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

The craziest Christmas cover idea I ever had involved King Kong stealing the Baby Jesus out of  a creche. Instead of climbing the Empire State Building and being shot down by Navy pilots, he climbs a giant Christmas tree and gets attacked by The Magi flying planes modeled on the Curtiss Helldivers seen in the original King Kong movie (1933).

Needless to say, this idea was never used. I saved the rough, however, and recently decided to clean it up and color it. Here’s the result:blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
King Kong steals Baby Jesus from creche in front of church climbs up on top of big Christmas tree, magi wise men in planes are shooting at him while police and crowd watches from below

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highI need to say one thing before I go on: every year, Christmas creches get vandalized. The Baby Jesus and other manger scene figures are damaged or stolen. There’s no excuse for
it, and it makes me very angry.

I feel the same way about any religious symbols being vandalized. There are many faith traditions in the world– Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and many more. They all have symbols and icons, and they need to be respected. We need to speak out on each other’s behalf whenever anyone desecrates religious symbols. BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

I’m a lifelong, practicing Catholic– so aren’t I contradicting myself here, with King Kong stealing the Baby Jesus? Perhaps I am, in a strict sense. But I also think we need to laugh at ourselves.

G.K. Chesterton famously said that Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.” Kong ripping off a manger scene? The Magi as fighter pilots?? It’s all absurdist, mad nonsense– and somehow, I think that makes it OK.

(I also think God has a very pronounced sense of humor– why else would He have created me??)BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

Here’s a detail image:blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
detail image King Kong steals Baby Jesus from creche in front of church climbs up on top of big Christmas tree, magi wise men in planes are shooting at him while police and crowd watches from below

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highAnd another.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
detail image King Kong steals Baby Jesus from creche in front of church climbs up on top of big Christmas tree, magi wise men in planes are shooting at him while police and crowd watches from below

blank vertical space, 32 pixels high“Kong” wasn’t the first crazy, never-used Christmas cover rough I decided to color. That “honor” goes to one I call “Manger Jazz,” which is loosely based on the legend that animals can talk at midnight on Christmas Eve. I just extended that a bit, to the idea that the animals in the stable at Bethlehem played a little jazz that first Christmas.

I used the illustration to make my first video several years ago. Interesting aside to social media marketers: you can make a video using a single illustration.BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

Here it is, hope you enjoy it. And Merry Christmas from me and my faith tradition to you and yours!!  : )


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Any thoughts about faith and humor, and how they intersect? Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to recommend it, please click the Like button below. To share it, click Tweet, Facebook, or one of the other Share buttons.

Speaking of absurdist ideas: Did you know Oliver Twist once met The Magi? Oh, yes– you can read about it here.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high


About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. I create images that get content seen and shared.

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Questions? Send me an email.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2016 5:16 PM

    I think, for me, humour is an inevitable part of honest faith. Interesting post!


    • December 12, 2016 8:36 PM

      An inevitable part of honest faith. I like that a lot. Being honest about one’s faith would include recognizing our own ignorance, pride, hypocrisy, and getting caught up in a thousand and one confusions and contradictions. At that point, ya gotta laugh– it’s inevitable!! : )

      Great comment, nice to meet you, thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. EarthGround permalink
    December 13, 2016 9:23 AM

    I enjoyed this, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. RKLikesReeses permalink
    December 14, 2016 2:04 PM

    ::applause:: Wonderful in every way – sensitive, creative, humorous 🙂 , and full of useful information. Humor’s like air and water, I think – necessary for life. And your use of it is masterful. 🙂 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Stellar!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️


    • January 2, 2017 3:08 PM

      My dear RK!! I’m covering myself with sackcloth and ashes here, and I sure wish the ashes were Reese’s Pieces, ’cause there sure are a ton o’ ashes, such are my heartfelt mea culpas!! : (

      Please excuse this awful even-later’n-usual reply. I had a big assignment that I managed to finish just before Christmas, then I was whisked away in Santa’s sleigh. Normally he lets me ride with him, but this year he threw me out over the Arctic Sea because I’d been so naughty and negligent replying to comments. (Fortunately I landed in a friendly polar bear’s rowboat, spent Christmas Eve drinking toasts in the Sea Hag Tavern, and was able to hitch a ride on a dogsled back to New Hampshire– all told, an invigorating experience!)

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for your lovely comment, and for all your wonderful support thruout the year. I hope you had a nice Christmas, and I wish you much, much, much success and happiness in the coming year. Thanks again for being your wonderfully unique self!!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  4. December 15, 2016 2:11 PM

    I am still pleased recalling that “Come to the Stable” made a very nice Christmas card for my grandparents. I’m still a bit crippled with chronic pain, but I still plan to somehow make the trek to Spokane and the South Hill neighborhood to see them in their new assisted living digs. I don’t know if I’ll make it out to Riverfront Park– contacts tell me it’s much more dangerous to visit these days.


    • January 2, 2017 4:58 PM

      Hi, Jak! A zillion apologies for this terribly late reply. Always nice to hear from you, my friend. Sorry to hear you’re still struggling with that chronic condition. Rest assured you’re in my prayers, please hang in there. Ah, I remember you liked “Come To The Stable,” and were kind enough to by a card. Nothing like having a local connection for something to resonate. Hope you and yours had a nice Christmas, and if you see your grandparents, give ’em my best. They’ll say: “Mark who??” Hey, that’s OK, tell ’em I said hi anyway… : )

      Stay the course, and I hope 2017 brings you a heap o’ smiles and blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. December 15, 2016 7:26 PM

    Hindi is a language. Hindu is a religion 🙂
    I always enjoy your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 15, 2016 8:19 PM

      Blush, blush, blush, and double-blush!! My face is redder than Rudolph‘s you-know-what!! Thanks for catching that, and for your extreme tact and good-humor in bringing it to my attention– I have made the correction!!

      I’m delighted to think you enjoy my posts, and very glad to know you’re looking out for me. Merry Christmas! I was also going to wish you a Happy Pancha Ganapati, but I get the impression it’s not a feast that all Hindus celebrate, and I didn’t want to risk looking like an idiot so soon after, well, looking like an idiot… : )

      Cheers, and thanks again! : )


      • December 16, 2016 2:16 AM

        haha no worries. There are so many different cultures in the world. It’s not easy to know about all of them. I’ve never heard about Pancha Ganapati! My knowledge about my own culture isn’t that great haha. Merry Christmas to you too!


  6. December 16, 2016 10:25 AM

    I don’t just like you, I love you! 😘 your posts, your illustrations, your sense of humor. Thank God He created you! 🙏🏻😇❤ And this one is so new… Wow! Who would have thought Kong would have stolen baby Jesus? hehehe… 🤣😂😅😁
    I love it and I also enjoyed the musical video. Would you be making an animation version of this video too? How many donuts would you like me to send you for one animated short movie of baby Jesus and Kong? 😁😂🤣😬
    I had fun visiting your blog. I miss you!😘


    • January 2, 2017 5:24 PM

      Whoa!! This comment may have set a new record for making me blush and smile at the same time!! ☺️😊☺️😊😚

      I couldn’t be any happier if Santa stuffed my stretchy-stretchy, extra-long underwear with donuts!! 🍩🍩🍩🍩😜

      Gosh! I don’t think God receives too many thank-you cards for creating me. Complaints, yes. Criticism, yes. But thank-you’s? Wow! I’ll bet He’s gonna frame it, or maybe store it in a golden iCloud… 😊

      Thank you, dearest Toothsome! Hmm. I don’t think I’ll be animating King Kong At The Creche. I mean: cows, sheep, camels, they all work at a creche. A giant ape? He’s as jarring as a heart-heathy salad at a donut shop!!

      Thank you for all your kind words and wonderful support. I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas, and I wish you much joy and success (and coffee and donuts) in the new year! Do excuse this horribly late reply, and my extended absences. I shall be climbing into my digital spaceship and flying over to see you soon!! ☺️🍩😊🍩😍


  7. December 16, 2016 5:53 PM

    I think it’s good to be able to playfully poke fun at oneself. Especially if it involves things that are just plain silly – like King Kong having amazing balancing skills to stay standing on the tree like that!

    Merry Christmas, Mark! Wishing you a joyful time and lots more laughs 🙂


    • January 2, 2017 5:41 PM

      Just Plain Silly… say! I should have that printed on my business cards!! Naw… why bother? Most people know that instinctively just by looking at me… 😇😈😉😊😜😁😝😄

      Hi, Lily!! A very belated, but very Merry Christmas to you!! Hope Santa left you every cosplay outfit that was on your list! Yeah, that’s quite a little balancing act Kong’s got going on that tree. He was always heavy on drama, but light on his feet… 😊

      Do excuse this terribly late reply. Had a big assignment in December that kept the ol’ beak to the grindstone till very close to Christmas. Then I hung myself by the chimney with care, and next thing I knew, 2017 was here!! Yes, my life has its ups and downs, and you are one of the tippy-top ups!! Thanks so much for all your good-humored support. I wish you a new year filled with every success and happiness!! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  8. December 24, 2016 8:35 PM

    I might have told you this before: I had a high school friend whom we were chums. She did so cartoons on her own. She did fuse humour with her cartoons. My favourite is a cartoon of Mary and Elizabeth who are about hug each other and are each pregnant.

    I love Chesterton’s quote.

    Warm wishes for a merry Christmas. WIshing you peace always.


    • January 3, 2017 10:15 AM

      Hi, Jean! I’m late responding here, do forgive me. (So what else is new? she replied– smiling indulgently, I hope!!)

      You had a friend who drew cartoons?? Well, I can see you ran with a bad crowd when you were young… : )

      Just kidding, of course– I know she must have been a good influence! : )

      Taking certain things seriously while taking oneself lightly is, perhaps, life’s greatest challenge. I know I’m always at my most absurd and least credible when I start taking myself seriously. “Pride goeth before a fall”– truer words were never spoken, and I have the cuts and bruises to prove it! Yeah, I’ve always loved Chesterton. He was a master of paradox– no wonder he was so good at commenting on both the human and the divine!

      A belated Merry Christmas to you, Jean, and I hope the new year brings you joy, laughter, success, and, of course, mucho exhilarating bike rides!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 3, 2017 8:59 PM

        Hi Mark! Hope you have a great 2017 of great ideas, drawings and peace along with your humour.


  9. Margie permalink
    December 30, 2016 10:04 PM

    I love the video, though I rather expected to see a few puffs of smoke actually moving upwards from the cigarette – an animated GIF embedded somehow?!

    We, the fans of your work, are the lucky ones! All the best in 2017, Mark!


    • January 3, 2017 10:30 AM

      Smoke from the cigarette… ha! An inspired notion, Margie, and it would definitely create a wonderful effect when the donkey gets his big closeup! (Funny: at that point in the video, I can always hear Humphrey Bogart saying: “Play it, Donk– play that Sugar Plum Fairy thing…”)

      I used Kizoa to create that video. Embedding animated GIFs wasn’t an option at the time, but, supposedly, it is now. I shall have to give it a try– thanks for the suggestion!

      And thanks for your kind comment and all your good-humored support. It means a lot. I’m way behind on blog visits to friends, but I shall definitely be popping over for a visit soon. Hope you had a lovely Christmas, and I wish you a new year filled with much success and happiness! : )


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