Interview with @davewalker “The Cartoon Blog” #cnmac10

The Cartoon Blog by Dave Walker

Can you give us a bit of background into your digital presence projects? When was it established, what was the commission/what’s its overall goal?

I’ve been writing (and drawing) various Christianity / humour websites since 1999 and blogs since 2002. My current website, CartoonChurch.com, and my blog, The Cartoon Blog, started in 2005 at the time I became a  freelance cartoonist. The idea of the site is to provide a showcase for my cartoons, my Church Times material in particular, but other work too. On the blog I write about my cartooning activities  including any new pictures I’ve produced, and the whole thing is peppered with a certain amount of larking around. But occasionally I might say something profound just to catch people off their guard. The blog is also on Facebook, Twitter and an iPhone app. I do other slightly more serious internet things too – editing the Church Times website being the main one.

What’s the best good news story that has come out of your site – what made you punch the air in joy?

The website is essentially about my work, so this is going to sound rather self-centred. I was utterly overjoyed when I was asked to go and draw cartoons ‘officially’ for the Lambeth Conference in 2008. Being described as ‘the world’s worst cartoonist’ by Damian Thompson of the Telegraph comes in a close second.

We’d love to know a bit about the people behind the site, what is it about your journey of life and faith which puts you where you are now?

There’s only me behind the site really, although my blog wouldn’t be the same without the incredibly creative and interesting people who post comments. As for my journey of life and faith – I really don’t know that I can answer that here, but let’s just say I’ve been involved in various flavours of Christianity over the years and that forms the background to my work.

Do you think it’s important for Christians to be online, and why so? What can we do, either individually or corporately?

Important to be online collectively, yes. Personally many of us are online too much (I speak mainly for myself). I’d never have been able to do what I do without the internet. It has meant that my drawings can be seen by a worldwide audience at the touch of several buttons. And yet on a day to day basis my own inability to be disciplined in the different uses of time is one of my main downfalls (I have quite a few downfalls). I think it is especially important for Christians to be involved in projects that make sense to those outside the Christian community. There aren’t that many of those, most Christians preferring to make websites and blogs that are aimed at other Christians. I think this is a shame.

Which digital media tools do you use (either personally or for the project), and what does each do for you? Which tool would be the winner in the race for ‘most important’?

I use five computers, twenty three electrical leads, and a fibre tip pen. Online, the most useful tools are WordPress, Facebook and Twitter. I do have a Youtube account which I’d like to use more, but I always think I look like a bit of an idiot in videos. WordPress is the most important tool, as I use it to post cartoons. Facebook is the best for attracting a crowd, whereas Twitter is the most fun for messing around. Yes, I know, I should take it more seriously. Secretly I take it incredibly seriously.

How did you feel to be nominated for one of the Christian New Media Awards?

Very pleased. I went to the first version of the event way back in the dim distant past (2007). I enjoyed it then and was very glad to be invited back.

How did it feel to be awarded runner up? Did you make it to the Awards event, what was your highlight of the evening?

Being awarded runner up was fine. I didn’t deserve to win as I hadn’t been putting in enough effort. Take the Church Mouse for instance, who works on his blog for about 20 hours a day. It was an impossible category to judge though, as each of the finalists is trying to do something completely different. Yes, I made it to the awards evening and the conference the next day, which was perhaps the highlight (is that an acceptable answer?). I love hearing from people doing different creative internet projects and then chatting to them in the pub afterwards.

We’re working on the @bigbible project. What do you think of such a project, and how can the Bible inform what we do online. Have you seen any particular tools that you’d recommend, that help to spread its message digitally?

I like what I’ve seen of the project. I like the idea of the ‘Big Read’ next year especially. Between you and me I’d quite like to put together a Bible commentary (using drawings) that would rival Tom Wright’s. But I’m far too busy, what with housework, doing the bins, etc. Digital tools – I think you know about more of these than I do. I think it is good to play with these different sites, but then to concentrate on the most useful ones.

And finally, where do you see things going over the next few years?

This could of course be answered on many levels. What happens within the online Christian world will of course depend on what happens in the world generally, the way technology develops, and a myriad of other factors. That’s not a very good answer is it? The only certainties are that computers will continue to become more unreliable and the number of electrical leads that each person will require will be a three figure number.

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The #BigBible Project. Educating in the digital spaces, creating 'bigger Bible conversations' between #digidisciple(s). Look out for #bigread14.