Retired pastor, author and prolific cartoonist Joe McKeever donated his extensive archive of cartoons, sermons and other writings to the John T. Christian Library at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary earlier this year.
McKeever produced the cartoons, caricatures, sermons, articles and posts during his illustrious 59-year career. His gospel ministry included 47 years as a local church pastor (including long tenures at First Baptist Church Columbus, Mississippi, and First Baptist Church Kenner, Louisiana), five years as an associational missionary in New Orleans, and a “retirement” period loaded with preaching engagements and conferences.
For wider Southern Baptist audiences, McKeever is best known through his prolific cartoon ministry. His works have appeared in many state Baptist papers, a church clip art book that sold over 300,000 copies in the 1980s and other books. Baptist Press recently launched “Your Daily Joe” which distributes one of McKeever’s comics each weekday as a part of the SBC Morning Briefing.
Drawing caricatures is an ongoing ministry for McKeever. Whether serving at the SBC Annual Meeting, state Baptist gatherings or schools, he sits for hours making free sketches of all who ask.
Whenever McKeever draws, he draws a crowd. As McKeever draws caricatures, he gets to know each person and looks for ways to provide encouragement and engage in a gospel conversation.
McKeever began drawing at age five and took a mail-order drawing course as a teen. He has been drawing ever since. His “big break” came in the 1970s when Hudson Baggett, then editor of The Alabama Baptist, started running his cartoons. He earned $1.50 per cartoon. Other papers picked up his work, and McKeever eventually published multiple volumes of his comics, which often take a humorous look at church life.
His drawing ministry continues to innovate and grow. McKeever commonly posts a drawing on his Facebook page and asks followers to crowdsource the captions.
The New Orleans Seminary library will steward the archives and preserve McKeever’s work so future generations can enjoy and learn from his work.