Hi my name is Sridhar Reddy and I am the co-publisher at Z2 Comics. I came across the CCAS booth at SDCC last week and met some lovely folks who were very excited about what we were doing. Wanted to come on here and start a discussion about a very cool project and our initiative for the future in terms of faith-based comics.
In August we'll be publishing an original graphic novel called EDEN in partnership with the Christian rock band SKILLET. It's been a project we've been working on for almost two years with the band. The book is written by Skillet lead singer John Cooper, and illustrated by Chris Hunt, who did our book CARVER with us. The book comes with an exclusive downloadable single "Dreaming of Eden" by Skillet, and also comes in a beautiful deluxe oversized and slipcased edition.
We are not an exlusively-Christian publisher, but it is a space that we've been wanting to get into some time. I married into a devout Christian family and my son is baptized, and as he's been growing up it's always been a big concern for me personally about the kind of media he is going to consume, where his attentions will be and a real dearth of earnest and truthful content for Christian kids who are interested in comics.
I came across Skillet through my son's babysitter, who opened my eyes to current Christian music. I marveled at how the band was able to create metal music for kids and adults who loved that sound, but who were apprehensive as the majority of metal music didn't align with their values. I made the same parallel observations in my own profession, which is comics and film. We'd just started a music initiative with our books (working with The Black Keys, Babymetal and others) and it seemed like the right time to approach Skillet about doing a book with us. I was honest in my intentions to create a cool book for Christian readers and the Coopers, who are HUGE comic book fans themselves (John has all of the Avengers characters tattooed on his leg), jumped on board immediately.
Turns out comic kids and musicians ran in the same tribes - we were introverts, often bullied and challenged for the things we liked and that were important to us. Being a Christian artist even moreso. We just want to read and listen to cool stuff that inspires us, paints stories in our heads, and connects to us on a granular and spiritual level. So it became a natural marriage to meld all those worlds, and that is how we ended up with the book. John penned the original story and edited the book, and it's turned out wonderful. We're even making an appearance on Fox and Friends tomorrow to announce the book on nationwide TV!
I've attached an unlettered preview page of the book to this message. It's really, really beautiful.
As a publisher I want to hear your stories, your experiences, and your ideas as we push further into this initiative. We'd love to pair a story concept with a Christian band, and we have just signed another influential Christian band to do a book next year (will reveal the name soon). Like I mentioned before, this is our first rodeo in the Christian comic book market, so I won't pretend to know what I'm entirely doing. But that's why I'm here, to learn and to grow.
But most importantly I want to know the heart behind our work, of why it is important to be a strong and authentic voice in a world that, for the most part, either doesn't want to understand or actively suppresses those voices.
Thanks for taking the time to read this intro, and I hope to be a regular contributor to this special forum. Cheers!
Thanks for sharing your plans with us. It is very encouraging to see creative people getting God's message out to a broader audience.
Be sure to post a link to the Fox and Friends interview once it is done.
Will do! F&F airs at 6am EST but I'll post a link when it's online.
Our shout-out from Skillet on Fox & Friends. We also presented John an axe that was based on a weapon that he uses in the graphic novel.
Very cool! Thanks!
Sir, very cool I love Skillet they are amazing my favorite song they sing is 'Awake and Alive' awesome! I have watched that YouTube video hundreds of times! We have two amazon assistant Alexa's in our house and I always come in after work and say 'Alexa play Awake and Alive by Skillet' and she does. Then I go Alexa repeat that song and she does! Sometimes I listen to that song 4 or 5 times a row. I will buy one of your graphic novels when it comes out! Right now I am producing a Christian kids space adventure called 'Raegan and RJ in Space!' At first I had 4 Christian artists from this site do my graphic novels and I put them on Amazon and got some sales they were Jhenna Lusong, DL Maffett, Donny Armstrong, and Rob Stimpson - we won a bunch of awards with those. Then I was like wow we got a hit. So I pitched my story to Disney at Kidscreen in Miami in 2015 and they really liked it and they said if I got something done in Maya by a professional they would look at it again and see what happens. This is God all God, believe it or not I walked out of the Disney pitch and standing right in front of me is the owner of Jumping Frog Entertainment an animation company that does work all over the world. I told them about what the Disney exec told me and could they help me out and they said forget Disney, they will do my animated series at a big discount and I get to keep all the rights which doesn't happen if Disney takes it! So it has been almost 4 years now and they have done my first episode 'First To Mars' which has won two animation awards and the graphic novel which won another book award for me. They did an App game for both iPhone and Android which eventually will make money it is Free to download and play level 1 but there is an inapp upgrade for 99 cents which allows play of 4 more levels! Also they are doing Raegan and RJ action figures for me now and before Christmas I get my first 1000 action figures 500 of each to sell. So it is really looking up for me as I make $$$ off the game and action figures I will give it to JFE and they will do my 18 remaining episodes! I am very excited about your graphic novel I will buy one when it comes out! God Bless Rich Collins
Thank you for the kind words and congrats on all the amazing success you've had with Reagan and RJ. I do think if people feel the earnestness of faith behind an IP, then it will resonate with audiences because it's not a greedy cash grab. I wanted to do a Skillet book because I noticed at church that Christian kids had few options that spoke to them in their language, something that was genuinely cool and emotional and wasn't pedantic. It was important to give something genuine to those kids, and Skillet does that so well, hence the partnership. I applaud you in doing the same and also making a living off it without compromising your core values, which is no small feat in the arts. You have my appreciation and admiration!
Sir, yes I am looking forward to your graphic novel. Please let me know when it comes out I will buy a copy! Keep up the great work! I am very excited I hope my action figures get done by Christmas and are in the stores for moms to buy them for their kids! Go Raegan and RJ in Space! God Bless. Rich Collins
Thank you for sharing your story and life experiences of Faith! I must admit that I am not familiar with Skillet's music, but among the small circle of Christian internet friends I have, I can't turn around without hearing praise for their music:) May God bless the vision He has given you and your comrades to produce comics and music that glorifies God, and celebrates what is good and virtuous! P.S. I love the idea of joining Christian music to comics! What a fantastic way to heighten the experience and inspirational intensity of the stories! Think you could explore the possibility of doing likewise with Twila Paris and her music? How I'd love that!