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Touching A Nerve: A Curly Collection of Churchy Cartoons By Jim

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Brendan Boughen

Book Description

Cartoons are Jim’s church. In the process of creating these 120 cartoons over the last decade for magazines, billboards and online spaces, he has encountered life’s meaning as he’s made readers laugh – and touched a few nerves along the way. This book shows the need for cartoons that reveal truth and make us laugh is as vital as it has ever been.

‘Jim’ lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand. However, those who know his life story know that he grew up in Australia as Brendan Boughen – the son of a preacher man – and has been drawing cartoons throughout his life, very often with religious themes inspired by his upbringing in the Christian Church.

Jim was published in his first newspaper by the age of 13 and in his first book by 14. Since then, his cartoons have featured in magazines and web sites in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.

In 2006, Jim published his first book, called Gone Astray: A collection of (sac)religious cartoons by Jim, which chronicled his first 10 years of cartooning on ‘churchy’ topics.

Since then, his single-panel cartoons have featured monthly in Touchstone magazine (published by the Methodist Church of New Zealand) – and touched on wide range of topics relevant to church-going people, as well as those outside church walls who may look in through the windows wondering what the heck is going on inside.

This book collects for the first time 120 of these cartoons drawn for Touchstone and other media under the appropriate title Touching A Nerve: A Curly Collection of Churchy Cartoons by Jim.

It’s an irreverent, often thought-provoking, and laugh-inducing collection of cartoons that will touch readers’ nerves (and funny bones) on some big topics – life, God, religion, politics, social justice and spirituality in the modern world.


From the Introduction

“The phrase “going to church” is an interesting one. It suggests that ‘church’ – a place where one presumably encounters God and receives spiritual sustenance – is located somewhere physically separate from ourselves where we must ‘go’ to have that encounter, be it a fancy stone building or similar establishment made from wood, bricks and mortar.

What I’ve grown to realise as I’ve reached the stereotypical mid-life years is that cartoons are my church. In the process of creating them (writing, drawing, publishing) and setting them loose to interact with humanity – ideally resulting in laughter, thought-provocation or impassioned letters – I encounter life’s meaning, and hopefully bring a little of that meaning to others also. So, every time I draw a cartoon, I’m going to church.

These cartoons have certainly reflected on some tumultuous times for humanity from the past decade, and these which seem to have only increased in recent years. In a time when much of the evangelical Christian church – in the US at least – has lost the final shreds of its credibility by supporting a political leader who embodies the opposite of everything their founder stood for, the need for cartoons that reveal truth and make us laugh is as vital as it’s ever been – if not more so.

So, I hope you enjoy this new collection of Jim’s churchy cartoons, and as you read them, may you encounter a small piece of that same life energy that I found in creating them.”


Praise for Touching a Nerve

“Going to church with the cartoonist Jim is always fun as he pokes and prods this aging institution that tries, fails, and tries again to follow its radical founder. Jim, along with many who attend or have attended churches, laughs at its pretentiousness, archaic language, and ostentatious architecture. He also critiques the not-so-funny parts – like its discriminatory practices and attitudes towards women, homeless folk or same gender couples, and applauds those who get the point of its founder’s faith. I commend this book to all who like to laugh; to church folk who like to laugh at themselves; and to everyone who enjoys the subversion of a cartoonist’s craft.” Rev Glynn Cardy, Minister of the Community of St Luke’s, Remuera, Auckland

“Unlike written content cartoons invite an immediate response from viewers. While a cartoon may simply be amusing, by highlighting an issue it may also provoke assent, disagreement, discomfort, sadness, anger or any range of emotion. This is recognised by the title of this collection, Touching a Nerve. Religion may be taken so seriously by its adherents that the possibility of a wry smile at one’s attitude or behaviour or at the position explicitly or implicitly espoused by the church may be considered off limits. The cartoon on the title page suggests that even the God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel might be shocked by a cartoonist like Jim.

Over the past twelve years the cartoons by Jim published monthly in Touchstone have invited viewers to think about the implications of issues arising in the life of church and society. The cartoonist has not avoided controversial issues and has sometimes pushed the boundaries of traditional ideas. As he states in an introduction to this collection, his intention has been to provoke those inside churches to think about what it means to be church in the modern world.” John Meredith, Touchstone magazine, February 2020


About the Author

‘Jim’ lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand. However, those who know his life story know that he grew up in Australia as Brendan Boughen – the son of a preacher man – and has been drawing cartoons throughout his life, very often with religious themes inspired by his upbringing in the Christian Church.

Jim was published in his first newspaper by the age of 13 and in his first book by 14. Since then, his cartoons have featured in magazines and web sites in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.

In 2006, Jim published his first book, called ‘Gone Astray: A collection of (sac)religious cartoons by Jim’, which chronicled his first 10 years of cartooning on ‘churchy’ topics. Since then, his single-panel cartoons have featured monthly in Touchstone magazine (published by the Methodist Church of New Zealand) – and touched on wide range of topics relevant to church-going people, as well as those outside church walls who may look in through the windows wondering what the heck is going on inside.
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