I have been sharing the story of Wesley Bros over the past two weeks. You may want to start with the first post if you haven’t already.
When he first started Charlie had no direction. He was inventing characters that were based on actual people and forming their personalities based on his own reading of history and what he thought might be funny. As a result, John Wesley is a little bit hipster, “because,” as Charlie says, “those guys are so persnickety and particular.” Charles Wesley, on the other hand, is a little bit more sloppy and fun because he is the creative poet.
“My first few strips tried to tell major Methodist storylines in one strip,” he recalls. The comic strips covered things that Charlie thought most Methodists would know or needed to know. This included the First, Second, and Third Rise of Methodism, the Aldersgate Experience, and the fire in the Wesley home.
And if you read Wesley Bros you will notice that Charlie runs a few series of extended plotlines. He knew when he started drawing that he wanted to do an extended series on Sophy Hopkey because well, there is all that ridiculousness. “It’s actually a lot easier for me,” Charlie says, “to do a long series like that because one idea flows out of the next.”
That may be why the George Whitefield series lasted for two months. “I thought the Whitefield series was important to tell because it conveys the beginning of field preaching and an evangelical revival, as well as an important split in early Methodism,” says Charlie. He goes on to say:
It’s filled with tons of theology, America’s first celebrity (George), and sermons and hymns were used to tear each other down. That series really allowed me to go to creative places to visually tell stories in ways I had never thought of doing when I first started out.
Wesley was heavily influenced by so many historical figures, Charlie has made a point of casting some of those characters in the comic, putting them into dialogue and debate with Wesley. He does the same with those whom Wesley has influenced.
Charlie, by combining theology and humor, has made something that is commonly viewed as boring, approachable. And in the process, he is teaching and sharing the main tenants of our United Methodist tradition, as well as the theological truths of being a follower of Christ. The Wesley brothers have always served as models of what it looks like to thrive towards perfection. Anyone who has taught confirmation can tell you that it is often difficult to bring these two models of faithfulness, strugglers of faith, and missionaries to life. Charlie has found one of the most creative ways to do that.
So, if you’re still reading, you can stop now. Go check out Wesley Bros and laugh a little, ponder a little, and share with a friend.