Before cartoons, there was poetry.
The Wittenburg Door, sometimes known as simply The Door, was a Christian satire and humor magazine, published bimonthly by the non-profit Trinity Foundation based in Dallas, Texas. The magazine started publication in 1971 and ceased publication in 2008. The title was a reference to the Ninety-Five Theses written by Martin Luther in 1517 that he is believed to have posted on the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.
I was introduced to the The Door in 1980 by my English professor while I was a freshman attending Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. I’d never seen anything quite like it, and it resonated with many of the doubts I had recently began experiencing with not only my personal faith but religion as a whole as well. Two years of attempted fundamentalist indoctrination was all I could handle, and I transferred to Southwest Missouri State University in 1983. While there I had a creative writing class where we were encouraged to liberally experiment with words. One of the assignments I turned in was titled Just Before The Weekly Message In Tongues Is Given In The Old-Fashioned Pentecostal Church And Emotions Are Running High. I ended up with an “A” in the class.
After leaving school, I kept feverishly writing and submitting stuff to various editors throughout the country. On a whim I sent my creative writing poem to the Wittenburg Door, never expecting to hear back from them.
One afternoon during my daily mailbox check where I usually collected my self-addressed stamped envelopes filled with rejection letters, I found a piece of correspondence from The Door. To my surprise, they had decided to hold my poem for publication and even sent me a long letter by Mike Yaconelli, the editor and founder of the magazine. It was to be the beginning of a six-year relationship where a series of my long poems would appear in the pages of the magazine and a period in my life where I wrote many more than they could possibly publish. To their credit, Mike and his co-editor wife Karla were more than kind and encouraging during that time and probably sometimes more tolerant than I deserved.
After six years, they felt the series had run its course and they were probably right. Rather than kick me to the figurative editorial curb however, they instead encouraged me to come up with my next idea they could move forward with and keep our relationship intact.
And so Christian Angst was born.
After submitting numerous cartoons for consideration, several of them were being held for future publication. Tragically, Mike Yaconelli was killed in a car accident on October 30, 2003. Not long after, The Door changed hands as well as editorial direction, and Christian Angst was permanently shelved. However, it would soon find a home throughout the burgeoning alternative press.
THE ONES THAT DIDN’T MAKE IT
Here are examples of submissions that didn’t quite make the publication cut. These were submitted during the genesis of desktop publication software and are presented here to show how I used to send stuff in for consideration. Most of them were created on Adobe Pagemaker, though a few of them were created on a program that I can’t remember. I don’t think they’re any less qualitative than stuff that got published, but I was inundating those poor editors with so much of these that they were forced to choose the better of evils.