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The Religious Affiliation of
John Ostrander
comic book writer


From: Rebecca Salek, "Spirituality In Comics", on "Sequential Tart" website (http://www.sequentialtart.com/archive/dec03/tth_1203.shtml; viewed 5 January 2006):
For many people. December is a month which contains celebrations of religious, spiritual or cultural significance. For many people. December is a month which contains celebrations of religious, spiritual or cultural significance. In recognition of that, this month the Tarts pick out what they consider to be the best representations of spirituality in comic books...

Katherine: Spirituality and religion is often handled in an extremely juvenile and well, stupid, way in mainstream comics. Avengelyne being the classic. I still think it's one of the funniest comics ever published, largely because its creators really meant it.

That said, DC offered readers one of the finest religious-themed comics ever published back in the 1990s. I'm talking about John Ostrander's run on Spectre. Ostrander came very close to becoming a priest of the Episcopal Church, and the fact that he had devoted a great deal of thought to the nature of God, the nature of sin and redemption, and man's place in the cosmos kept Spectre from becoming trite and heavy handed. Every arc dealt brilliantly with the nature of the Spectre himself, half human soul, railing against the seeming injustice of God, and half Angel of Death, barred from heaven. Brilliant stuff and well worth tracking down in the singles.

From: "Religion in God Loves, Man Kills: Using the clergy as a bad guy" forum discussion page, started 2 September 2003, on "Captain Comics" website (http://www.captaincomics.us/forums/index.php?showtopic=754): Captain Comics
Sep 2 2003, 11:04 PM
Another positive religious role model that pops to mind -- because I just mentioned it a couple of days ago -- was the rabbi "sidekick" in the Ostrander/Mandrake
Spectre. He played Socrates to Corrigan's Plato, asking theological questions that forced Spec to think his way through his preconceptions, anger and emotional turmoil to find redemption. He was in all ways a positive character.
Rich Lane
Sep 3 2003, 06:20 AM
Cap, you're probably referring to Father Richard Craemer. He was only a rabbi in the sense Parabbi is. He was actually a Roman Catholic priest. He was eventually defrocked because he couldn't strictly adhere to Catholic tenets, but even that scene was handled judiciously and without malice towards the Roman Catholic Church. Both sides demonstrated a high regard for the other, but both decided it was time for Richard to leave the priesthood. I thought this was appropriate because there really was no way to show Craemer dealing with the things he did in Spectre and still remain true to strict Roman Catholic priestly ways. In fact the only one who came off as a total jack**s was Amanda Waller [government-appointed head of the Suicide Squad], who came storming in to defend Craemer... whether he wanted her to or not.

I agree wholeheartedly with what Cap says though. Craemer was THE best example of a spiritual advisor in comics I have ever seen.

Have I ever mentioned how much admiration I have for the writing of John Ostrander?


The Culture Vulture
Sep 3 2003, 06:35 AM
I love Craemer - and have done ever since Ostrander introduced him as the Pastor at Belle Reeve in Suicide Squad. He has always struck me as the most humane religious leader I have ever seen in comics.
At the opposite extreme, of course, is the reverend sir who was the villain in the early issues of O'Neill's
The Question, and Bishop Lillimann in V.
Rich Lane
Sep 5 2003, 09:53 AM
...I'd say the criticism of corruption in the church can be traced back (at least in British Lit) to Chaucer's
Canterbury Tales, in which Chaucer clearly expresses his distaste for the Monk and the Prioress who have grown rich and fat and the Pardoner who sells papal indulgences with all the skill of a snake oil salesman.

I would be worried about any group that doesn't get lambasted in literature every once and a while. Like a free press, literature serves the purpose of keeping groups honest for fear of being exposed as corrupt. The problem lies in when the opposite side is rarely or never addressed. Of course, that is often attributed to the notion that good religious leaders aren't interesting enough to make for a good story. Ostrander put the lie to that idea, though.

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