Published by Broadleaf Books on July 19, 2022
Buy on Amazon
From the cartoonist who points his pen straight at today's pressing issues of inclusion, faith, spiritual abuse, and justice comes Flip It Like This!
Aggravated women disciples, Jesus hugging rainbow sheep, a man praying WTF?: the cartoons of David Hayward, the artist behind @NakedPastor, are graffiti on the walls of the contemporary church. He sketches the ridiculous, the appalling, and the damaging aspects of the church as we know it--as well as Jesus erasing lines, embracing the excluded, and standing outside the church's walls. In this collection, which includes Hayward's most beloved comics as well as never-before-seen cartoons, we find more of the whimsy, impertinence, and tenderness that we didn't even know we needed.
These cartoons are for those who have been battered or infuriated by the church and who long to see it change. Upending notions of who's in and who's out, Hayward's comic vision overturns false pieties and harmful dogmas in one fell swoop.
I think the first NakedPastor cartoon I ever saw was one of his most famous. It’s simple. Three women on the left, a crowd of men on the right, with the caption “So ladies, thanks for being the first to witness and report the Resurrection and we’ll take it from here.” That earned him a follow from me on Instagram, where I became one of 117k people following his simple, sarcastic, thought-provoking, and poignant cartoons.
David Hayward—who calls himself the NakedPastor because of his desire to tell the most vulnerable, naked truths—was in traditional ministry for three decades before he pivoted into making his art his full-time ministry. Follow Hayward on social media and you’ll get a steady diet of irreverent but honest cartoons, poignant reflections, and short yet powerful IG videos. He’s truly found a way to harness his artistic passion with his pastoral passion and created a beautiful and unique (and prophetic) ministry.
Flip It Like This! is that ministry in print form, taking 125 of his most popular cartoons and reproducing them in a small gift book style format. This is far from Hayward’s first published book. In 2011, he independently published Naked Pastor 101, his first collection of cartoons. Other books have followed, some being related to his art and others not, but all of them pretty well staying within the realm of indie publishing. Flip It Like This! is his break into traditional publishing with the stellar progressive Christian publisher Broadleaf Books.
My review for this book is complicated. On one hand, I love the content. Hayward’s talent is on full display and every cartoon is poignant and thought-provoking. On the other hand, I can get the same thing by scrolling through his Instagram. While of his previous cartoon books were interspersed with Hayward’s thoughts, Flip It Like This! is pretty much just a short preface and then prints of his work with no commentary. I would have loved to have learned about the cartoons, what their inspiration was for each specifically or had something to add from what is already available on his social media. The cartoons are also ordered according to—I think—their popularity. That means there is no consistent theme through the book. Ordering the cartoons into themes, perhaps having a short introduction to each theme, would have made the book more unique in my eyes.
So in the end, my critique of the work isn’t of NakedPastor, his theology, his cartoonmanship, or in any way he expresses himself. That part is great! My critique is all on how Flip It Like This! fails to just look like somebody printed out his Instagram. The preface of the book does say that this is just meant to be a “best of” collection of his most famous cartoons, so it delivers on what it promises. I can’t help but think it underdelivered on what it could have been. Flip It Like This! is a great book for NakedPastor fans who want to have a piece of his work made physical. Otherwise, just look him up on Insta.