Christian Comic Arts Society

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How many superman clones do we need with a cross emblazoned on their chest?

Full disclosure: I have done it too.

Is this caused by a lack of creativity? Perhaps its just a natural path that Christian comic artists will go through.

In life, I find the most overt Christians are typically hippocrates. For example the speeder that ran me off the road, with the bumper sticker "Jesus is my co-pilot". Another example: The loud Christian co-worker with the jean jacket with more Christian patches then you have time to read at work, but he is also known as a liar. Calling out sick, but posting vacation pictures on his FB page demonstrating clearly where he was. 

My point is that this overt passive symbolism seems like a shield for liars and hypocrites, and people know it. So as people that trade on iconography (see: Understanding Comic by Scott McCloud) do we raise similar hackles on the back of reader necks when we do this?

On the other hand, the most sincere Christians I have met don't have stickers and patches. You know they are Christians by their behavior. Can we play more subtle, or are we stuck with the overt? Don't get me wrong the Gospel can only be conveyed overtly, but a bumper sticker is not the Gospel. Icons are not the Gospel. Can we be overt when we have them firmly in the grasp of the story?

I know this will open me to scolding, but I hope that perhaps this might be a good conversation to have.

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I was thinking on this discussion over this last weekend (I was housebound in the blizzard) and a thought occured to me. Maybe we're going about this the wrong way. Perhaps instead of writing/ drawing Christians who are superheroes, cops, firemen, etc, perhaps we should be writing/ drawing superheroes, cops, firemen, etc, who happen to be Christians. That way, instead of seeming to be advancing a cause, our characters are motivated by thier faith to fight "The Neverending Battle".

I agree with you in that we need to write characters that are realistic Christians.(struggle with sin and temptation) 

Mike Jacobs said:

I was thinking on this discussion over this last weekend (I was housebound in the blizzard) and a thought occured to me. Maybe we're going about this the wrong way. Perhaps instead of writing/ drawing Christians who are superheroes, cops, firemen, etc, perhaps we should be writing/ drawing superheroes, cops, firemen, etc, who happen to be Christians. That way, instead of seeming to be advancing a cause, our characters are motivated by thier faith to fight "The Neverending Battle".

I've written a little bit about Christian Artists and Creativity over at my blog. Feel free to check it out if interested!

Game Design: "Journey" and Christian Art and Christian Star Trek: A Call for Christian Creativity!

The first is about the popular game "Journey", and how Christians may want to take a look at this game as inspiration for how we might effectively convey the Gospel to the World through a more creative approach. The second link, which has to do with Star Trek and Sci-fi, is a general appeal for Christians to try to put forth their best work - and again, strive for creativity - as a future with Christ is anything but bleak and hopeless!

Praying about it is definitely my first go-to now for inspiration.  I have had to totally submit my projects to him and turn away from some old inspirations/sources that had some dark roots. I believe God can give unique inspiration from Heaven not found on Earth because he is the Creator. He can give you a unique character, story and voice.

As Christ-followers, our spiritual lives and intimacy with the Father come first and all the rest flows from that.  I would love to hear any creative revelations people get. I'm definitely praying for everyone.

One revelation I got is Exodus 35:30--Exodus3 6:1-7

30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.


36 So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.”

Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.”

Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.

This is with regards to the building of the Tabernacle and all the creative design that comes with it.  I think if we did the same with dedicating ourselves 100% in all areas and ask for creative revelations, God not only gives it but also the abundant resources to accomplish it.

In our creativity, we want to partner with the Lord and let him Tabernacle with us as we glorify him with the work of our hands. There is a lot less pressure on me when I create together with Jesus :-)

It seems to me that the presence or absence of crosses (or other standard icons) are less important than the question of how characters are presented.  I'm thinking particularly of superhero characters here.  If they are presented as stand-ins for God, then I think we end up creating interminable problems for ourselves as artists (and potentially idolators), as well as for our audience.

For one thing, if the hero is meant to be a perfect stand-in for God, then we immediately face the idolatry problem.  This is compounded immensely when the hero is, in fact, super (as others have pointed out).  If a given character is immensely powerful AND perfectly good, then where are we going to get the conflict necessary to drive an interesting story?  The end product usually ends up being obnoxiously preachy in its tone.

This leads inevitably to the problems such stories create for readers.  I think most of us want to be able to identify with our characters.  I can't identify with God the Father.  I can--at some level--identify with a God Who voluntarily takes on weakness to live as I do; or I can relate to a flawed, conflict, sinful person who becomes far more powerful than I am--but who remains conflicted and limited by his/her sin. 

I guess what I'm really saying is that I think some of the Christian superhero efforts fail for trying too hard.  Rather than trying to put a cape on God, I think a better solution is to explore how imperfect saints respond to suddenly having more power than others.  I suspect such heroes would look very familiar and relatable. 

I think that's part of what attracted me to the older style of superheroes in the first place.  If you're interested in an example of what I'm talking about, the Spring Road Superhero Review will feature a post Monday about a 1940 story wherein the hero Midnight took on corrupt authorities victimizing orphans.

Justin got me thinking, what if a Christian got"godlike" powers?  how would he change? how would his relationship with God change? would it be a good thing?

To get your answer, I'd say, "just look at how some of us behave when we get a promotion at work...or win the lottery." 

Allen Smerchansky said:

Justin got me thinking, what if a Christian got"godlike" powers?  how would he change? how would his relationship with God change? would it be a good thing?

That would make a very interesting story. Some versions of it have been done, such as the movie Bruce Almighty, but that wasn't from a Christian perspective.

There would be a lot to explore in a story like that...hmmm, now you have me thinking.

I think if you are a Christian, you don't have to turn your writing into a superficial representation of Christianity; a good story is a good story, and it does its job whether you emblazon crosses all ove rit or not.

Jesus talked about farming and fishing and a woman who lost her money, and only later did he explain to his disciples what his stories meant in relation to God.

In the same way, you can tell stories with super heroes or spaceships or dragons--with no overt mention of God, and God can certainly use it. the pharisees in the church won't like it, but who cares? Let them criticize your work unjustly, and he will honor you.

I try to emulate CS Lewis: Some of my work is back-door evangelism, like Chronicles of Narnia, knocking on the door of the heart before reaching the head. I also do some projects that are more like front door evangelism--some overtly Christian stuff mainly for edifying other believers. 

My superheros--that is all back door stuff. Completely subtle and under the radar; not directly marketed as a Christian Comic--but the spirit of Christ who dwells in me leaves his mark on my work.

I'm going to re-release my superhero comic, Plasmatic, in about a month or so. I will let you know when it is out. There are no crosses or direct mentions of God; but lots of deep theological truths are at play in the core of the story.

Can't wait to see Plasmatic! Got any links we can look at now?

Hey Kevin,

Thanks for your interest!

It was released as a print on demand a few years ago on Indyplanet, and it's still there; but I am re-doing some of the artwork now and working on issue #2. 

Here's the link to Plasmatic (2014 version) on Indyplanet:http://www.indyplanet.us/product/113357/

You can also see more of it under my photos section here on the CCAS website. Scroll to the bottom of my photos section: http://www.christiancomicarts.com/photo/photo/listForContributor?sc...

And there's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PlasmaticComicbook/

Thanks again!

Kevin D. Lintz said:

Can't wait to see Plasmatic! Got any links we can look at now?

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