Rebecca West: Words & Music

Theophilus Lives On!

by Bob West

Even though I was no longer producing new episodes, Theophilus did not die. The illustrations were already being reprinted in church bulletins and local newspapers across the United States. Requests for copies of the cartoons and permission to reproduce them continued to come in.

One church made 35mm slides of the cartoons to show in their booth at the South Texas State Fair. A publisher in Fort Worth arranged the strips about creation and evolution in a tract called Theophilus and the Evolutionist. Later when I published two clip art books, Theophilus and Morality and Theophilus and the Philosopher, with the strips in a variety of sizes, preachers began making overhead transparencies of the cartoons to illustrate points in their sermons and Bible lessons.

Theophilus Clip Art Books, Tracts, 35mm Slides

I received requests from ministers in foreign fields for permission to translate and use the comic strips in their countries. Soon Theophilus was traveling around the world, appearing in newspapers in many languages. In the southwest United States, Mexico, and South America, Theophilus was Teófilo. In France, he was Théophile. In any language people rapidly identified with his compassion, understanding, and love for God.

Theophilus cartoon in both English and Spanish

In addition to appearing in church publications, Theophilus became a regular feature in some secular newspapers. One editor introduced the series this way: "This week begins a new feature called Theophilus! Subject matter in these strips concern social, ethical and religious themes. People from various religious backgrounds, or none at all, may see themselves in the characters in Theophilus. While his comments are always interesting, usually amusing, they also sometimes carry a wallop, or a sharp point which make some readers want to say 'ouch.' Always, they will make you think. We predict that this feature will be widely read and discussed."

Some college and university newspapers carried the feature as well.

Theophilus continued to be reprinted and circulated, reaching a new generation of readers, but it would be years before I would be motivated to create new strips.

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