Leave it to Jesus is a relatively young webcomic whose author goes by the name Daniel Hetrick. The strip takes experimentation -- with subject matter, humor, and style -- to a new, often scary level. Anyone who enjoys the extreme edges of any of those things, and is not at all, um, " religiously sensitive", will probably love it.

For the record, the comic contains tons of profanity and drug-references, but no pornography. Well, not explicit pornography anyway. There are references to weasels and Vaseline, and a very Freudian bit with Jesus forcing Tom Cruise to eat rolls of quarters...


LITJ just celebrated its first birthday in its current incarnation, located at www.officialjesuschrist.com (and no, I have no idea how an offensive comic strip got that domain, but it certainly adds to the humor). The author admits in his FAQ that some of the characters originated from an older comic called Argyle Action Theater, which doesn't appear to exist anymore. There is also a book called Flammable: The Journals of Heather Greely which seems to be related to the strip (it's sold through the site, and Heather is one of the comic's characters). The book is hilarious (there's a free preview at the author's Lulu page), but it centers mostly around the doctrine of a "Church of Plastic", which doesn't feature anywhere in the comic. Then again, any of Leave it to Jesus' growing pool of fans will tell you that the non-linearity is definitely part of the fun.

Art and Story

Art? Ha! There isn't any art, as the author admits freely in the FAQ. It's all clip-art and chopped-off bits of old low-res webcam photos. By all rights, it ought to be aggravating, but unique content and good design actually cover for the lack of "real art" very well. Another bonus is that the website itself is really well designed, professional even, and is fast-loading, attractive, and easy to read and navigate (if you can get your brain around the content, of course). It also includes searchable transcripts and other such conveniences.

And story...um...well, that's a matter of interpretation. Some of the comics are standalone gags, while some follow (usually short) storylines involving what might be normal character interaction if it didn't involve characters that are floating bottles of Robitussin and blurry photographs of Star Wars figures.

It's probably safest to assume that just as there is no art, there is no story; at least that's the best I can figure from browsing the archives and reading the FAQ*. Though there are mini-plots and spinoffs within the strip, don't count on them -- they're liable to evaporate at any moment. This would be annoying if it weren't for the strip's clockwork regularity -- the strip has been going for over a year, with not one missed posting that I'm aware of.

The Final "Word":

I was skeptical of the idea behind Leave It To Jesus at first -- it's the sort of thing that could easily be done wrong, by being too theological, or not theological enough, or by not having the balls to be as irreverent as the title and character suggests. However, it manages to skirt all of those issues. The author obviously knows his theology enough to make good inside jokes, but does it without seeming preachy (for or against). And as for having the guts to go far enough...well, wow. I think few would argue that this comic lacks that. It also manages to be creative within what might seem a pretty obvious setting -- making fun of Jesus. The jokes don't always escape the genre in this case, but there are plenty of treasures to make it worth continued reading -- You know you've always wanted Jesus to say, "Word to your moms, I came to drop bombs, I've got more rhymes than the Bible's got psalms". And to break up with his own followers. And to smoke crack. Yes indeed, lots of guilty pleasures for ex-Catholics here!

Leave it to Jesus is something of a cult favorite, but seems to be gaining readership in its second year. It was recently given a very favorable review at Fleen.com, an often-critical webcomic review site. And for my part, I'm sure that, unless a freak bolt of sanity strikes the author, this is destined to remain one of my most irreverent favorites, right up there with the Perry Bible Fellowship.

*(emailing the author is possible, but promises to be an exercise in entertaining futility, as can be inferred from the blog posts that accompany each strip: One is quickly forced to conclude that the author either is an insane homeless person, or gets his inspiration directly from them)