Ernest James Pace was born in Ohio in 1879. Pace was already drawing cartoons in high school. As a young man he moved to Chicago and started work at the Chicago Daily Journal newspaper. While in the Windy City he met a sincere Christian who led him to the Lord. The conversion was dramatic and consequently he lost his newspaper job, but he offered cartoons to the Christian newspaper, the Ram's Horn, an offer which was accepted.
Soon he met and married Cornelia Parker, and moved back to Columbus, Ohio, where he was licensed to preach and became the pastor at several Ohio churches. In 1902 he attended Otterbein College, where he did cartoons for the college monthly journal, and graduated with a Masters of Divinity. In 1905 Pace and his wife became missionaries to the Philippines for the United Brethren in Christ. He continued to do cartoons for religious publications such as the Watchword and The Religious Telescope.
The Paces returned to the U.S. in 1915 where he published more cartoons for many years in the Sunday School Times. He later worked at Moody Bible Institute and accepted another short term pastorate before embarking on a traveling church and Bible conference speaking ministry. Pace continued his cartooning ministry (both in publications and as lecture aids) until the last years of his life. He died in June 1946 at age 67.
Pace's illustrations were in the style of a single panel newspaper editorial cartoon. He used an "engraving" like style, with pen and ink and later wash. His style is one that was popular in the 19th century, somewhat similar to the famed illustrator Charles Dana Gibson. Some of his work reminds this reviewer of the art of noted science fiction illustrator Virgil Finlay. Pace's cartoons were often sermons in art form, and left little to the imagination as to the meaning of the work. While to the contemporary eye his style is very dated, Pace was a fine draftsman and designer, and an important subject for the Alec Stevens' biographical treatment. With so much attention over the past several decades given to secular cartoonists and comic book artists it is only fitting that the work and lives of Christian cartoonist be remembered.
While this reviewer believes Stevens has done a good and valuable service in writing this biography the organization of the book could be improved. The book contains no table of contents, no index, no appendices and no footnotes or end notes. Stevens has a running narrative of Pace's life that threads itself through the volume with no chapters, and leap frogs over many pages of examples of Pace's cartoons or reprinted booklets that the cartoonist had written. For example, the narrative of the artist's life (on page 55) is interrupted by a reprinting of Pace's "The Law of the Octave" booklet which takes up 24 pages. There is no “continued on page 81” which would have guided the reader to the continuation of the narrative. A better solution would have been to place "The Law of the Octave" in its own appendix in the back of the volume, The same thing happens with the reprinting of Christian Cartoons (pages 82-127), Cartoons That Talk (pages 145-172), and Life Begins At...? (pages 188-205). Also Pace's annual speaking engagements are inserted into the narrative text. While this does give one some insight into the busy schedule of the preacher/cartoonist, it would be better dealt with as endnotes or appendices.
Perhaps more important is that Stevens gives only scant attention to the world of the first half of the 20th century in which Pace did the bulk of his ministry. Historical context is important. Pace under went a serious crisis of faith over Modernism (pp 18-20). Stevens should have delved deeper into the conflict between Modernism and Fundamentalism that was so important to evangelical Christians during the first few decades of the 1900s.
Having said this , I do believe that Alec Stevens has performed a valuable service to the church and Christian cartoonists by researching the life of E. J. Pace and making so much of his work available to the 21st Century reader.