This November marks the third year The Cardinal has appeared on GoComics.com, alongside Garfield and Dick Tracy.
For over two decades, starting in print in his college’s newspaper and then with an annual comic book and now as a webcomic, K.J. Kolka has been writing and drawing the continuing adventures of the superhero the Cardinal.
A single creator publishing a single character consistently is an unusual feat in the world of comic books. “I created The Cardinal for the student newspaper at a college in southeast Michigan at a crucial time in my spiritual life,” Kolka says. “Over a two-year period, God showed me so much about Himself and myself and how trustworthy He is. The Cardinal became a symbol to me of that time and the vision for a Christian comic strip.”
That spirituality is a defining element of The Cardinal. While many comic book characters deal with real-life problems, The Cardinal also deals with realistic spiritual issues. “Other than flight, he has no super powers. So, he’s a very vulnerable character, physically and emotionally.” Like the best comic book heroes, the Cardinal uses superhero tropes to explore real-world issues. “He’s like most of us. He lives in a world which is apathetic, sometimes even hostile, toward faith and God. Yet, he must interact with these people and sometimes save their lives.”
This November marks the third year The Cardinal has appeared on the GoComics website, which also features humor strips like Garfield and Ziggy and adventure strips like Dick Tracy and Tarzan. It is a good fit for Kolka’s comic, which has elements of both humor and action.
But, of course, Kolka wants to do more than just entertain. New readers, he says, sometimes “expect a comic book to be about a mindless fight scene between masked characters. They don’t anticipate stories about people struggling with issues like violence, homelessness, and keeping your faith when the whole world seems against you.”