Arie Van De Graaff: Mormon Cartoonist
Arie Van De Graaff is a cartoonist and creator of the weekly series “Mission Daze,” which he created in the period of time between receiving his own call to serve a full-time mission to Slovenia and entering the Missionary Training Center (1993–1995). The series is especially pertinent in a time when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has significantly increased its missionary force, following the announcement by Church president Thomas S. Monson that changed the age requirements for both male and female missionaries.
He continued to draw while on his mission, sending home a drawn joke on the envelopes of his weekly letters that evolved into full comic strips in his letters to his family. After he was released from his mission, he developed the comics into 50 strips he hoped to market. When he couldn’t sell the series, he set it aside and concentrated on obtaining a college education. He earned both his bachelor’s degree in human biology and his master of public administration degree from Brigham Young University.
About the time of his graduation, his younger brother began serving a full-time mission and he started working on the strip again, thinking he would send it to his brother. He eventually accumulated 500 strips that featured Elder Van Dyke who served his mission to the fictional Laputania, loosely based on Van De Graaff’s mission to Slovenia.
Since then, he helped create the LDS Scripture Heroes app and continues to create single-panel strips for his blog. His work appears regularly in both The New Era Magazine and The Friend Magazine. He contributes regularly to the Latter-day Saint Coloring Book app. His work can also be found in the free LDS Laughs app..
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, he served at one point as a Ward newsletter editor. He did a puzzle or a maze for the children to solve, and would give them a candy bar when they did. He created enough of those that he thought he’d put them together in a book. He has published The Puzzle Book for LDS Kids, The A-MAZE-ing Book of Mormon, and Now That I Am Baptized: A Puzzle Book for LDS Kids. He has also published Mormon Life.
Van De Graaff works full time as a legislative analyst for the Utah Association of Counties. He lives in Draper, Utah, with his wife and four children.