In an era that can definitely use a lot less religion and a lot more humor, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has the perfect offering: a new book, Cartoons for the Irreverent, celebrating the wit of editorial cartoonist Don Addis.
If you can make someone laugh about a controversial subject, aren’t you halfway there to converting them to your point of view? This unique collection of cartoons by Don Addis will bring a smile while making you think.
Addis, who died at 74 in 2009, was the legendary daily editorial cartoonist of the St. Petersburg Times, who penned his delicious and deceptively gentle jibes at religion and other foibles for 40 years, six days a week. This collection represents a bit more than 1 percent of his life’s work, which Don once put at more than 11,150 cartoons. But FFRF considers them to be the crème de la crème.
“No one could puncture sanctimony like Don,” recalls his friend and colleague Robyn Blumner, a former St. Petersburg Times columnist who is now CEO of Center for Inquiry.
The collection of more than 150 cartoons is largely made up of those penned exclusively for FFRF and its newspaper, Freethought Today. Addis, a longtime FFRF member who was famous for giving away his original cartoons, first started sending FFRF his cartoons dealing with religion in the early 2000s.
When Don retired in 2004, he went into overdrive, penning cartoon after brilliant cartoon for Freethought Today, FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor relates in her warm introduction. After being published in FFRF’s periodical, the funny, brilliant and irreverent cartoons sadly languished in a file drawer until Gaylor resuscitated them and turned them into this long-overdue book celebrating Don’s life and genius.
Don’s views on religion, science (mis)education and the Christian Right remain as prescient and timely today as when he penned them 10 or 15 years ago. His cartoons are loosely organized into sections: those on freethought and atheism, science versus religion, feminism and gay rights, the dangers of church/state entanglements (Don’s specialty), and cartoons lampooning religion and true believers.
Don’s cartoon “signature” was the ubiquitous fly appearing in most of his drawings. The fly was an inside joke with his mother-in-law, even after she became his ex-mother-in-law. But Don was himself a “fly on the wall,” observing and skewering human failings, such as our tendencies to credulity, blind faith, piety and sheep-like conduct.
FFRF thanks its graphic artist Jake Swenson for design, the Center for Inquiry and the Tampa Bay Times for permission to reprint several of the cartoons Don drew for them, and FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott for his help. The book reprints a memorial column appearing in the St. Petersburg Times about Don by colleague Andrew Meacham.
The large paperback is the perfect gift for you or the freethinker on your list, and is now available from ffrf.org/shop
($15 postpaid). Go to “FFRF books” in the dropdown menu under the “Books and Lit” link. All profits benefit FFRF.