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Peter T Chattaway

al hartley, r.i.p.

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This apparently happened back in May, but I just heard about it now -- Al Hartley, writer and illustrator of the Christian Archie comics, has passed away at the age of 81.

I've been a Christian all my life, but in good Protestant fashion, whenever I had to single out a "moment of decision" when I "committed my life to the Lord", I would usually point to the time when I was seven years old and I read about a 'Free Gift Offer' in one of Hartley's comics.

The very concept of a "Christian Archie comic" seems kind of odd, now, and I can only wonder how people on both sides of the fence would react to this -- would Christians want their children to think that Archie and Jughead and company are Christians in ALL of the comics out there (some of which may reflect clearly non-Christian themes)? would non-Christians allow a popular comic-book franchise to favour just ONE religion? (Then again, would there even be a market for Muslim Archie comics or Sikh Archie comics or...?)

There's a film connection here too, since Hartley wrote a number of comics that were supposedly based on best-selling books like David Wilkerson's The Cross and the Switchblade and Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place, but I think his comics were inspired as much by the film versions of those books as they were by the films themselves.

Ah well. Thanks for everything, Al.


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