Friday, December 30, 2011

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#34) -- Christian Comics

What advice would you give to other Christians who are considering making comics?
-- Justin Martin  (from an upcoming interview with R-Squared Comicz)

I get this question a lot, actually, and I used to get it even more when I used to work for one of the major worldwide Christian denominations at one of its missionary agencies.

My response today is the same as it has always been.

If you are a Christian who is considering making comics, then be a Christian making comics. Don't make Christian comics. The world doesn't need more Christian comics. But it does needs more Christians making comics.

It's the same thing I'll say to musicians, artists, and actors. The world doesn't need another Christian band, or Christian paintings, or Christian movies. It needs more Christians being salt and light in the real world who are musicians, painters, and actors.

Just like it doesn't need Christian plumbing or Christian network installations or Christian stationary sets.

For all authentic believers in my chosen faith, it's impossible to hide what you really are through any art your create. (Ask Billy Tucci, for example. His new book "A Child Is Born" is a global big deal, thanks in no small part to his amazing Shi work) Trust that your nature will come through your work. Don't force it in order to fit into a certain market.

So I say: address topics about faith and forgiveness and grace as a writer and tell redemptive stories, but don't hide your stories and art in a Christian bushel (to flip the phrase over) in a subculture where only other believers will see it. Be Christian in all that means (not just the political involvements) in the world. Feed the poor. Help the helpless. Forgive others. Extend grace. Live an exemplary life. Be like Jesus. But for heaven's sake, please don't create any more so-called Christian stuff. We've already got stockpiles of it, both good and the lackluster and the blatant attempts as cashing in on Christians' dollars, filling up our subcultural landfills.

To put it in a more "spiritual" way, don't ever assume your art is your ministy. YOU are your ministry. What you say, what you do, how you live, how you treat people. You art is your art. It is not a means to a religious propaganda end. It's an outgrowth of who you are as the child of a Father who is also a Creator.

A caveat, if I may... If you are creating a comic book format to make a more effective teaching tool (i.e,. as in -- don't get me started on -- Chick Publications) , go for it, but don't call it art. You're creating a tool for a particular purpose. Art is more expansive than that. Art opens itself up to interpretation and takes a chance.