The Tomics Collection of Catholic comics is published by The Catholic Fellows. The Catholic Fellows founder, Matt Martinusen, said the aim is to share the Gospel in a humourous way. Photos courtesy of The Catholic Fellows

Tomics tickle the Catholic funny bone

By 
  • August 28, 2015

If God truly has a sense of humour, He would probably enjoy reading the Tomics Collection book by Tom Gould.

Tomics are weekly “religious funnies” published by The Catholic Fellows, a lay ministry that fosters men’s spiritual fellowship. Every Friday, their website features a new comic strip inspired by Scripture readings, lives of the saints or Catholic teaching.

Gould said he is inspired by famous cartoonists Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts) and Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), and his love of puns. This translates into a comic series that is witty and playful, but also respectful of the biblical stories and Catholic teachings it portrays.

TomHeadshotCartoonist Tom Gould created the first Tomic, a comic strip inspired by Scripture readings and Catholic teaching.The first Tomic — a blend of Gould’s first name and comics — was published on Feb. 6 and it immediately drew the attention of the online Catholic community. Within a month, The Catholic Fellows Facebook page hit the 1,000 likes mark. Now, it has more than 2,600 likes.

“From an engagement side, there’s a lot of value in humour, especially online,” said Matt Martinusen, founder of The Catholic Fellows and publisher of the Tomics Collection. “So when we’re able to do comics and are able to engage on a relevant topic... it helps share the actual Gospel in a humorous way. Not where it’s making fun of it or portraying it falsely. Our comics are a hundred-per-cent truthful.”

Gould said that by joining The Catholic Fellows ministry team, he was able to force himself to take time for his passion for drawing and for his faith. Creating the comics compels him to reflect on Catholic teachings to find inspiration for his weekly comic series.

“Humour is an easy way to access people, but you can also throw in something like that which makes it educational,” said Gould. “I won’t pretend that all the comics are educational... Some of the comics have topics that some Catholics might not know about. For one of the comics, I used the term ‘hyperdulia,’ which is a reference Catholics have to Mary as opposed to other saints or to God, which is something that a lot of Catholics don’t know about.”

As part of the core curriculum at John Paul the Great Catholic University in Escondido, California, Gould, Martinusen and all students have to enroll in philosophy and theology classes. These classes, and their own love for the Catholic Church, grounds the content for Tomics and The Catholic Fellows.MattHeadshotMatt Martinusen, founder of The Catholic Fellows and publisher of the Tomics Collection

“The Catholic Fellows put a lot of trust in Tom because we know that he’s very theologically sound and very humourous,” said Martinusen. “But at the same time, we’re not afraid to put out something that our Church teaches and that we firmly believe as Catholics and put it out there.”

Gould and Martinusen agree that they feel encouraged by the online response to the Tomics series. They already have plans to create a yearly collection book series.

“It is a source of pride,” said Gould. “It’s a relatively small source of pride because it’s a relatively small book... but, this is the first step towards that.”

Martinusen knew the comics had a good fan base, but didn’t expect such a large response. A small number of books were printed, but Martinusen said more are being printed as the orders keep coming in.

Martinusen said he had always been a fan of Gould’s drawings at school. Students at John Paul the Great Catholic University knew of Gould from the religious drawings and comics he used to draw around campus.

“There were always drawings around the school about the homily at Mass or something comical that a professor said in class,” said Martinusen. “For awhile, the underclassmen had no idea who was behind the comics. Tom eventually was caught in the act of drawing one one day and became a celebrity for his humour and drawing capabilities.”

Gould’s drawings became so popular that the school invited him to draw weekly illustrations for the school web site. When Martinusen was looking for team members to start The Catholic Fellows, he remembered Gould and knew that he would make a great addition to the team.

All profits from the sale of the Tomics Collection will go to growing The Catholic Fellows fellowship group and expanding its ministry into other universities and beyond. For now, Gould will continue to entertain the Catholic online community by posting weekly Tomics on TheCatholicFellows.com and fb.com/TheCatholicFellows.

The Catholic Fellows, which was established in February, started out as a blog for Martinusen and his university friends at John Paul the Great Catholic University. The group was formed based on a Franciscan model in which the group adopts daily, weekly and monthly commitments to fuel spiritual life.

“It’s very easy to grow of this world and with material things, but it’s difficult to grow spiritually,” said Martinusen. “That’s why we created this model... to help men stay connected to the Lord.”

tomic-jesus-seaA Tomic created by Tom Gould and published by The Catholic Fellows

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I love Tomics!!! I wish there were more of them!

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