Joshua Masterson, a 20-year-old Catholic cartoonist, uses his God-given talent to spread the Catholic faith in a unique way.
The fifth of 10 children, Masterson spoke with ChurchPOP about his artwork, faith, and hopes for the future.
With over 27,000 followers and more than 390 posts, “The Catholic Cartoonist” first hit Instagram on April 1, 2022. Many of the cartoons feature funny storylines with altar boys, nods to the saints, as well as Father Otto, a blonde priest who encounters the daily chaos of life around him.
Some of the cartoons also feature a more serious notion, covering topics about news impacting the global Church, feast days, and moments of catechesis.
Masterson said he started drawing at a very early age, and while he never went to art school, he comes from an artistic family, with his father and grandmother both enjoying artistic endeavors of their own.
“I’ve always had a knack for drawing cartoons and making up characters. Around 2022, I went through a period of my life of discernment, thinking, 'What is my vocation? What am I going to do with my life?'”
Masterson shared that he considered the priesthood but ultimately knew that was not where God wanted him.
After being inspired by Norman Rockwell’s wholesome and familial artwork, Masterson says he developed the idea of creating art from a Catholic perspective.
However, he quickly realized cartoon-style artwork came more naturally to him, so he shifted his idea once more.
“As a Catholic artist, you head down the avenue of fine arts, mosaics, and paintings in the church. So I didn’t initially think of doing Catholic cartoons, but I realized there is something special here--a niche--this is something I enjoy doing," Masterson said. "I started sharing my designs with my family then my parish, everyone loved it.
Masterson added that he draws inspiration from old comics such as Foxtrot, Calvin and Hobbes, Sherman’s Lagoon, and Blondie.
“Family Circus” created by Bil Keane was also a big inspiration.
“I really wanted that wholesome family feel," Masterson said. It was always a blast on Sundays getting to read the Sunday Funnies.”
Masterson mentioned he wanted his comics to convey the everyday life of a church community–something he knew firsthand.
“I go to Mass as often as possible. I even began altar serving at age six or seven and have continued to this day, now as head altar boy," he said.
"It has been a really great thing for me and my faith life. I’ve always loved that role of helping out, and I get a lot of inspiration from the younger guys," he explained. "I get to see all the ins and outs and behind-the-scenes of the sacristy. Most of my comics are inspired by real life, especially with the altar boys.”
“The Catholic Cartoon” is published multiple times a week through Instagram, though he usually aims for a daily post. Masterson shared that he uses Procreate, the digital illustration app on his iPad, to create his cartoons.
Designing these comics provides him the opportunity to evangelize, something Masterson hopes to continue.
"Drawing cartoons related to the faith is something I enjoy. More importantly, I hope this can be a unique way for people who may not be Catholic to get a glimpse into our faith.”
Currently, Masterson sends his comic work to 24 people every week.
One basilica in Hungary uses some of his comics for their bulletin, as well as a parish in Canada. One church in Belgium also receives his work and translates it to Deutch for their community. Another U.S. parish translates his work for their Spanish-speaking members. Alize Magazine in Ireland also features his work in their monthly magazine.
“The first page has the very first comic strip I’ve ever done to the present day. I’m very proud of it and excited," Masterton conveyed.
"I grew up reading collection books and I feel blessed that Voyage Comics was willing to do this with me. God has helped me so much and in doing this, I feel like I’m doing something for God--to share the faith using this gift He’s given me.”
“All of this is a blessing from God," Masterson continued. "In truth, my gifts to be able to draw, share it with so many people, be interviewed by ChurchPop, and God giving me these opportunities– all of these are huge blessings I'm so grateful for. I am very humbled to participate in all of this.”