Marrin's 'Francis' comic strip premieres on

This story appears in the Francis the comic strip feature series. View the full series.

by Mick Forgey

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Pat Marrin's popular NCR comic strip "Francis" has found a second home: The comic strip, which posts every Thursday to NCR's blog The Francis Chronicles, began running Sunday on GoComics.

According to its website, GoComics, from Universal Uclick, is the Web's largest catalog of syndicated newspaper strips and Web comics, offering free content daily.

The strip has already made a splash with its new audience. The "Francis" comic strip posted Monday on GoComics generated several comments from users by mid-morning, including: "LOVED IT!!!" "This looks like a keeper," and "Good stuff!!"

The comic will appear twice a week on GoComics, Mondays and Thursdays. If it's popular, the strip may appear more often.

GoComics approached Marrin, NCR contributor and Celebration editor, about publishing the comic strip.

"Syndication is a dream for most aspiring cartoonists," Marrin said. GoComics will deliver "Francis" to a new, much larger audience, Marrin said.

"Universal Uclick is the largest syndicate in the world. So you get global reach on an idea, and feedback from what they claim is over a million hits," Marrin said.

"This is the place to get started, to get recognized, to build some kind of a following," Marrin said. "For [GoComics] to test out in a fairly simple way, whether or not there's any grab to a comic idea."

"Francis" first officially launched in NCR's Sept. 13 issue. Thomas C. Fox, NCR publisher, encouraged Marrin to pursue the idea. His enthusiasm for Francis' papacy connected with Marrin's enthusiasm as an illustrator for NCR for the last 17 years.

Marrin has created 60 individual comic strips of "Francis." He draws about three new comic strips a week to stay ahead and provide enough of a selection for NCR and now GoComics.

"Francis is, I think, an unusual subject for a comic strip," Marrin said. "A sitting pope. But this sitting pope is having his own impact on global media. And my comic strip, I hope, will be funny but also share important ideas that the pope is speaking about [such as] 'church of the poor'."

Marrin is excited about sharing the comic strip with GoComics' comic-aficionado audience, who Marrin says are "as important an audience as the people who read editorials."

"This is a way to share what I feel is an important moment in the world, when you have a pope who has captured the imaginations of many, many people," Marrin said. "And the language that I'm using to describe the strip, I use the word 'hope' three times. Just when people thought the future was uncertain, when we don't know where we're going, there appears on the stage someone who offers hope and speaks words of hope.

"To combine humor with hope, is really the same thing," Marrin said. "The difference between comedy and tragedy is that comedy says things go wrong, but in the end, they go right. The Gospel is really a message of laughter, rather than of tears."

A version of this story appeared in the April 25-May 8, 2014 print issue under the headline: Syndicate picks up NCR comic strip.

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