Miniature Jesus #1 mixes a compelling blend of dark and light
Miniature Jesus #1
Created, written, illustrated and lettered by Ted McKeever
Cover concept and production by Ted McKeever and Dana Moreshead
Editor: Laura Tavishati
Communications: Marc Lombardi
‘Unrepentant Sinner’: Jim Valentino
Ted McKeever’s first Miniature Jesus book is a tale of two distinct halves. In the second, we spend a brief moment witnessing a country pastor preach to a flock of one. The evangelist is expectedly hysterical, but the child in attendance instead reacts worriedly to that which stirs in the backdrop. The eponymous messiah has broken free from his crucifix and bounded onto the floor like a vermin. The issue then signs off with a page spread that exhibits Lil Jesus calling on super strength to fend off the pastor’s giant shoe.
As blasphemy goes, the image is simultaneously outrageous and affectionate, and the scene’s characters and context imply more than empty provocation. As cliffhangers go, it’s a perfect visual summation of the book’s title and mission statement, a suggestive wink toward the next instalment.
But it’s the first half of the book that serves as the story’s engine, its tonal standard and perhaps contains its one true protagonist. It follows the travels of a lone wanderer, bearded, hooded and at a loss to how sober life traditionally unfolds. McKeever’s moody, stark pencils illustrate around this individual an alien atmosphere. The former drunk isn’t completely alone; he converses with all manner of contentious persons and apparitions, from a disgruntled gas station clerk to the hallucinatory embodiment of a cat’s corpse to the proverbial devil on the shoulder.
The overall dark tone is peppered with a dash of humour both visual and spoken, and it’ll be interesting to see how well McKeever can maintain this mix in subsequent issues. Preacher is an obvious reference point for controversial religious-minded comic book material, but Miniature Jesus seems content to craft its own identity, altogether more restrained and contemplative, melancholic yet amusedly absurd.