What do you do when God tells you to raise his one and only begotten son? Anything it takes!
Joseph Carpenter is an independent contractor living in middle America. But when God told him to raise his one and only begotten son Joseph’s life was turned upside down. Now he’s the adoptive father of a very modern fourteen year old Jesus who loves everything Joseph hates. Life at home is tenuous. His wife Marry is never anywhere to be seen, his ten year old daughter Ruthie is always getting everything she wants, he’s always telling his son “no miracles” and the boy’s best friend is the son of the Devil!
How it All Began
The following is an excerpt from an interview with Bob Heske for InvestComics published 2011.
1) How did you come up with the premise for the hysterically unholy web comic JOSEPH? And did a bolt of lightning strike you immediately afterward?
(DP:) This is funny. It sounds ridiculous but I had a dream that I was writing it. It was something very vivid. When I woke up it just wouldn’t leave and so I thought, well why not?! So I started writing all my artist contacts and friends to tell them about it and originally I was going to call it “Jesus!” … like something you exclaim before a truck hits you and you die.
All the artists loved the idea and wanted to do it. But you know artists − always busy. The only artist who wanted it and actually did anything with it was Gary T. Becks. I mean he took the idea and ran! When I saw his character studies of both Joseph and Jesus I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was the dream coming to life!
2) How do you toe the line between funny irreverent and blasphemous “damn-you-to-hell”? From the dozen or so strips I’ve seen, you do it well.
(DP:) Well the thing is I just don’t care. Wait. I take that back. I do care. But the thing I care about is if it is funny. I mean really, that’s all that matters. I think the people who did this sort of thing best was Monty Python. Or even Mel Brooks. They really pushed it. Come on. Blasphemy is funny! But in the beginning, just after Gary did his first character studies, I was concerned that it just wouldn’t fly. So I did the only thing I could do and I found religious people to show it to. I thought for sure they would tell me I was going to hell. But everyone who saw it reacted very positive to it. An old friend of mine is a minister and he finds it hilarious.
3) How did you find the artist? Tell us why he’s the right man for the job!
(DP:) I knew Gary’s work from the web comic Mazscara and I was such a huge fan I just always wanted to work with him. I probably became annoying enough to where he eventually just gave me some work to letter. I think my first work for him was “Fiendy” which was published in Heavy Metal a while back. That got some cool responses, so we kept at it. I’m actually working for him on another long-term project right now called The Humorville Hillarions, but that’s something that will not be ready for submission for a long time yet. But yeah, when I had that dream I sent him the idea and like I said, he took it and ran. It was just something very surreal when I saw those first character studies.
4) What goes into creating a comic strip, and what advice do you have for anyone who wants to go down that road?
(DP:) I’ve read somewhere before that Charles Schulz felt like it was something that he had to do. That if he didn’t do it (every day) then Peanuts would have found another way to get out of him. And I tell you the truth: Ever since that dream “Joseph!” has been exploding out of me.
I write these short strips almost every day, sometimes as many as 12-14 strips a day, and there is no end in sight. I could see myself as an old man still writing these strips and the well from which they come from would be nowhere near even half empty, let alone dry. If I’m fortunate enough to be an old man and look back on my life and still be writing “Joseph!” I’ll be a happy old heretic and then I can advise any who would dare think about taking on an ongoing cartoon strip. For now I can really only say that a writer writes. If it’s cartooning that you honestly want to write, then 1) it must be funny, and 2) repeat Step #1.
5) 2012 is coming fast – any plans to make that “End Times” hoopla a storyline in the strip?
(DP:) Well, see? Now you’ve gone and given me ideas. And there are so many ideas floating around right now I can’t even guess what I’m going to write about. But off the top of my head I’d like to see Joseph looking at Jesus on that very special day when nothing happens and saying, “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”
6) Who is your favorite character in the strip – and is there any “David Paul” in the Jesus with a teenager attitude character?
(DP:) I love Ruthie. To me little girls are the world. They can just look at you in a certain way and say things in a certain way that will break your heart. If you don’t do whatever it takes to put a smile on her face and make her laugh, then you haven’t done your job. Hearing her say, “I love you” is the best thing in the universe. And if any little up-start even thinks about hurting her, you’ll drop-kick him across the yard.
As for 14 year old modern-day-Jesus, there are only a few sources I can draw from. One of those is my own youth. Dads, we were all boys once so we all know what that’s about. But the other source comes from my observations of kids today. When I write a conversation with Jesus and Lil’ D. it’s usually based on the way kids talk today. That’s not too far from the way I used to talk when I was 14. Come on, dads. Think about some of the words we used to use. Some of us even used the word “word”.
7) You are a writer, letterist, and indie publisher. What’s the most fun you’ve had working on a project?
(DP:) I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done because I only work on those projects I genuinely want to work on. Sometimes it’s professional and I get paid for it. Most of the time it’s not. I’m okay with that because I’m happy. I love everything else that I am doing, yes. But I have to say that the absolute most fun I have had is right here, right now with “Joseph!”.