The Monday Morning Quarter-Bin: The Cross and the Switchblade

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The quarter bin can bring you many opportunities for learning, be it learning of the existence of titles you had never heard of (even with all my years of being a Marvel fanboy I find new old series/mini-series/one-shots whose mere publication boggles the mind) or in some instances, legitimate history (I can think of a few “sports legends” bio comics I’ve seen featuring Ty Cobb, for example). Somewhere in this Venn diagram of insanity is “The Cross and the Switchblade”, a comic adaptation of David Wilkerson’s book of the same name, chronicling Wilkerson’s ministering of “disillusioned youth” caught up in the gangs and debauchery of New York City (thank you Wikipedia). Written and drawn by Al Hartley, this comic is…something else.

With gritty, realistic portrayal of gangs (re: stereotypes, appropos of 1972 when the comic was made, not when the events happened),

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dramatic twists and turns (a heroine-addicted whore [not Karen Page] tries to kill herself, and our preacher character stops her then turns on a dime to have a cheerful conversation with his wife in the next panel), and character transformation (our youth in need, Nicky, sees the light when he accurately prays for the gender of the preacher’s newborn baby…yup. Even he acknowledges it’s a “50/50 shot”), we follow the struggle of Wilkerson as he struggles to bring Christ to New York, facing ridicule, ridicule, and being laughed at.

We culminate with a dramatic flip of a hoodlum by Nicky, as well as holding a knife to his throat.0803111107

Is this a Christian comic or The Punisher? So, yeah, this a reprint by Archie Comics from the 80’s with a 59 cent cover price (a bizarre cover price, in my estimation), that I got for free from site admin The Franchise. I’d say the writing is a bit preachy, but that’s kind of the point, and the art is…there. If you find it, I’d probably save the quarter.

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What’s going on off-panel?

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