Small world: I found out only weeks ago that a British colleague with whom I’d exchanged friendly messages over the years is the anonymous artist behind Jesus and Mo, the acidly witty comic strip featuring two self-obsessed prophets. Every month, the Freethinker publishes a new installment, but the two roomies’ divine black-and-white adventures can also be found in six Jesus and Mo books — and on their own website, which is updated twice a week.
Since its launch, a little over eight years ago, the atheism-influenced comic has attracted some prominent admirers. Richard Dawkins praises Jesus (I’m tempted to stop here for effect) and Mo, saying the gruesome twosome and their creator provide some of the
… shrewdest, wittiest, most critically penetrating running commentary on the absurdities of contemporary religion.
Fans also include novelist Salman Rushdie, columnist Nick Cohen, biology professor Jerry Coyne, and, truth be told, me.
This month, over in England, Jesus and Mo became something a flashpoint in a national debate over free speech, censorship, and religious accommodation. You can read up on the tumult here.
I asked Jesus and Mo‘s creator if he would answer your questions and mine. “Gladly,” he said.
Allow me to start us off.
“It was right after the start of the Danish toons controversy — the shit didn’t really hit the fan until January or February of the next year, after months of determined campaigning by Danish imams. I’d been harboring thoughts of a religious satire comic featuring Jesus and Mo for ages, and I think the early stages of that particular controversy acted as the catalyst that kicked me into action. It was [Islam's] ludicrous depiction taboo that provided the strip’s first joke.”