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ST. GEORGE — Local cartoonist Bill Fortune recently launched a website featuring his original cartoon strip about LDS missionaries.
Fortune began drawing the cartoons in 1988 when his late son Doug was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tampa, Florida.
“He would write home about his experiences,” Fortune said. “So I developed a cartoon, and I named these characters after him and his companion.”
Doug’s first companion’s last name was Carroll, so Fortune began calling his cartoon strip “Elders D & C.” Although he’d never seen a picture of Carroll, he created a characterization of him to contrast Doug’s blonde hair and freckles.
When Doug wrote letters to his father about the experiences he had, Fortune would draw a “gag” of the experience and include it at the bottom of his returning letter.
“If he had a dog chase him or whatever, that’s what I would write in the letter back,” Fortune said. “It kept his morale up, and he shared it with his comps and everything.”
The cartoons “went on the shelf” when Doug returned home, but in 2011, Meridian Magazine sought out a new weekly cartoon series, and Fortune volunteered his work as a tribute to his son, who died 16 years ago.
I enjoy doing it, and if it picks up the morale of the missionaries while they're out there, all the more to it.
“I enjoy doing it, and if it picks up the morale of the missionaries while they’re out there, all the more to it,” Fortune said. “They get a lot of ‘no’s’, a lot of door slams and a lot of oppositions, so it takes a lot to get over that.”
Fortune has gleaned new material from his grandsons who have served missions, and he’s now including sister missionaries into his drawings. Because his perspective has primarily come from male missionaries, he’s asking sister missionaries to send in their experiences.
“In one of them I just recently did, I have the sisters saying ‘It truly is a romance language, we’ve been to five houses and I’ve had four proposals,’” Fortune said.
For a small fee, Internet users can purchase digital and hard copies of Fortune’s cartoons on his new website, Eldertoons.com, and send them to their favorite missionary, Fortune said.
“I’ve served stake missions and ward mission leadership, but I never served a full-time mission,” Fortune said. “But through the experience of my grandsons and through the experience of my son, I’ve been able to create that.”