This whimsical cartoon character called Baldrick, drawn by the Rev. Rod Bower, minister of Gosford Anglican Church (80km north of Sydney), is evoking chuckles around the world. Baldrick's witty remarks are sermonettes for the 21st century.
My old mate Stewart McCrae, who won a Walkley award as Australia's Cartoonist of the Year a long time ago, is enthusiastic about them. "They're well drawn and very funny," he says.
A UK critic who saw the cartoons on the church's website commented: "They have a certain quirkiness about them, and occasionally a sharp barb. They made me laugh (especially the one about Windows XP). I hope their author will try his luck and make them available to a wider audience."
The editor of a Sussex (UK) parish magazine said: "I greatly enjoyed Baldrick. He's every bit as funny as the cartoons in the Church Times. The Catholic journal The Tablet is also very broadminded and would be worth a try."
The name Baldrick is rarely heard of in Australia, but in America St. Baldrick's Foundation (no connection with the cartoon character) is well and favourably known. By persuading thousands of good-natured citizens to have their heads shaved, it has raised more than $12 million in six years to aid the search for a cure for childhood cancer.
"St. Baldrick’s began with three people who wanted to make a difference, and chose to help children with cancer," says an article on its website. "Today, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation unites thousands of volunteers whose shared mission – to shave the way to a cure – has captured the enthusiasm and devotion of people around the world."
Probably the best known Baldrick of all was a key character in a British TV comedy series, Blackadder, starring Rowan Atkinson. Here's how Gwen Brophy on the Blackadder Hall website describes the 24 episodes: