Comic Books Animate United Methodist History

John Wesley and Francis Asbury are certainly heroes from a faith perspective, but a series of comic books created for confirmation classes in the 1970s turned them into the stars of some adventure stories too. These leaders faced many dangers as they carried the Gospel on horseback to early settlers in remote areas of America and the "Winning the Frontier" series tells the sometimes harrowing story of the founding fathers of Methodism in the New World.

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Getting roughed up by marauders, fired on by militias, the American frontier was a dangerous place for action heroes John Wesley and Francis Asbury.  

The Rev. Alfred T. Day, United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History:  “These were confirmation class curriculum bits. I don’t know, a dozen pages. Lots of just regular comic book kinds of stuff, telling the story of John Wesley and Francis Asbury.”

The Rev. Alfred Day heads the church’s archive agency and collects comic books about the founding fathers of Methodism in America. These unique antiques were created in the 1970s to engage and educate young people in confirmation classes.

The Rev. Alfred T. Day: “This is the one where he’s getting shot at by members of a colonial militia in America because he refused to take up arms. Not because he had a side in the war for independence or not, but because he believed it was against Methodist principles to take up arms.”

And as the story of United Methodism continues, the history lessons captured here still matter.

The Rev. Alfred T. Day: “The cool thing about the comic books as they relate to Wesley and Asbury is how they talk about our being on the edge of the frontier. And I think that that’s a message that gets reborn every generation. That’s a unique piece of our DNA is that we’re always on the frontier, willing to go past where others have gone to take the message of God’s love and to bring people to some kind of experience of that. And I think it’s up to us now as a church and maybe we’re doing it with the Four Areas of Focus, you know, to figure out what are the new frontiers where that message of God’s love through United Methodist lives make a difference today." 

The comic books featured in this video are part of a private collection owned by the Rev Alfred T. Day, chief executive of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History. The series of three comic books were published by Ron Kerr Associates in 1976.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Fran Walsh, 615-742-5458.

This video was first posted on December 19, 2016.