Phillip Dillman’s book Scripture Scribbles: Cartoons from the Choir Loft has definitely found an audience, and I wanted to introduce you to this talented and kind man and give you a glimpse about his work, faith and cartoons! Please also check out Phil’s author page on HOPress
Tell me about Phillip Dillman
I was born February 19, 1962 in a hospital in Harvey, IL, a few miles from Homewood where I have spent most of my life. I was actually due on February 2nd (Ground Hog’s Day) but I saw my shadow and didn’t want to come out so they had to cut me out via emergency cesarean.
My parents always made sure that my sister and I attended Sunday school and that we attended church each Sunday. We were always short of money, sometimes requiring me to bring an envelope containing 40 pennies for my hot lunch. I was able to earn quarters by working around my grandparent’s house during the summer. At the age of 11, our family went on vacation to Washington D.C. Instead of buying a typical souvenir with my quarters, I spent some of my money on a Dennis the Menace paperback! I loved the comic book humor.
Years later, when everyone else was collecting beer cans, I was collecting soda pop cans. However, my favorite beverage was Pepsi-Cola. I found out about the Pepsi-Cola Collectors Club in 1989 and decided I wanted to work for them. Unfortunately, they were only hiring truck drivers at the time. My friend said that they were hiring truck drivers where he worked and that they would train me. I figured I could train with them and eventually drive for Pepsi. For several reasons, I kept the Pepsi collecting as a hobby and, 24 years later, I am still with the company that trained me to drive a truck. I’m still collecting Pepsi products, as well, and took over as the Editor of the club newsletter a few years ago. I’m also the Editor of the genealogical newsletter “Dillman Descendants & Ancestors.”
When did you start drawing? Is it a natural talent or did you take lessons?
During the late 1970s, I remember asking my mother for suggestions of things to draw while waiting for our meals at restaurants. After the usual silly responses like “Draw a bath”, “Draw flies”, “Draw a gun”, etc., I would attempt to draw whatever was suggested. I obviously never took lessons nor do I feel that I’m talented in the sense that I draw well. My drawings are really just a way of making people laugh visually.
Tell me about your music and choir and how you got involved?
Truthfully, my mother forced me to join the high school choir. I did learn a little bit about music while I was in it but never really grasped how to read music outside of understanding quarter-notes, half-notes, etc. In the early 1980s, my friends were taking guitar and bass guitar lessons. Since the idea of becoming a band sounded “really cool”, I bought a small drum set and taught myself how to drum by playing along with my favorite bands like Rush and Genesis. Over time, I bought a better drum kit as well as a 12-string acoustic guitar and a decent keyboard, both of which I also learned to play on my own. I even composed and recorded my own songs in which I recorded one instrument onto a cassette tape then played a different instrument along with the first tape and added vocals and drums and more vocals until, in some cases, you could no longer hear the first instrument! HA! It was still fun and it helped me to develop my voice. A few years ago, my wife and mother-in-law were in the church choir and said they needed more men in the choir. I reluctantly joined but have since become a decent, strong singer.
When did the cartooning idea for church come about?
Our pastor started off a sermon by stating that pretty much everything to do with water reminds her of her baptism. The rain, a waterfall, a river, etc. Having the very literal and twisted sense of humor that I do, I drew an image of someone with a scowl on their face standing in water in a flooded basement and handing a box to someone on a ladder who is placing the boxes on a shelf. The person on the ladder is asking the other person, “Does this remind you of your baptism?” The pastor got a good laugh from it and that began my desire to illustrate the sermons or scripture lessons in a humorous or abstract way.
Do you have ideas for drawings before church or are they totally spontaneous as you hear your minister’s sermons?
I have had a few ideas prior to a church service, but most of the drawings are inspired by that day’s sermon or scriptures. Occasionally, I will draw two during the same service. I have even started a few of the drawings after the sermon was finished and wound up sitting in the choir loft after the service in order to finish the drawing. Most of them are drawn in 15 to 20 minutes.
What is the reaction of your fellow choir members and church congregation to your drawings?
Most of the church members laugh or at least smile at the drawings. Some of them are outwardly disappointed when I don’t draw a cartoon (it happens!). The constant insistence from them to get a book made of my drawings and my cousin’s suggestion of the apt-named Humor Outcasts Publishing finally gave that final push to “Git ‘er done!”
Your faith comes through loud and clear in your comic cartoons. Do you look at the cartoons as a way to express your faith or are you hoping God has a real sense of humor
My real desire is to make people laugh at the cartoons and to possibly think about the lessons in a way that they hadn’t previously. I guess the cartoons also force me to really analyze the same old lessons that I’ve heard over the years, as well. It refreshes the familiar for me.
I have no doubt that God has a sense of humor just as he possesses all of the other emotions that he instilled in each of us.
What does cartooning mean to you? And what do you hope your readers’ reaction will be?
A few people feel that I like to show off my drawings as a way to get attention. In truth, it really is a way for me to allow people the chance to smile or laugh at some of the many bible stories that have become stale over time. I think that, if my drawings help me to better remember what we had just been told, it will help others do the same. Sometimes, a good laugh can help people forget about some of the crap that they are currently dealing with. Some folks might be shocked at some of the drawings but I hope they will be enjoyed or, at least, appreciated. Maybe they can pass their copy of the book along to someone who is feeling down and needs a good laugh.