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What Is The Most Successful Christian Comic Book Title?

Hey Friends

Since we all desire a certain level of success in this business/ministry of Christian Comics ,I thought that I would ask a question. Who or what is the most successful Christian comic book title? I'm defining success by popularity/exposure, longevity and units moved. Why have certain titles "made it" while other "seem" to limp along? In this quest to be successful I'm looking to them that have managed to end up in the light. This is by no means a new topic or give man the glory mission, but valuable in terms of research and the ability to get solid content to a community that is willing to recieve and consume it.



Clint D. Johnson

www.newcreationnow.com

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In my mind, Jack T. Chick is by far the most successful Christian publisher of comics. He has been publishing tracts for over 40 years and continues to publish them to this day. His tracts have been produced in almost a hundred languages and hundreds of millions of people have read Chick tracts over those 40 years. His tracts are an icon in the comic book industry. Love him or hate him, whether you agree with his theology or not, his tracts have probably led thousands of people into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. You cannot deny his success and impact in the Christian market.
Ralph Ellis Miley said:
In my mind, Jack T. Chick is by far the most successful Christian publisher of comics.
.

Thus end-eth the discussion. Ralph nails it right off the bat!

Except, Clint said "title" not "publisher."

The "Most Successful" Christian comic book title?
Name ONE Christian comic book title that was ever "successful."

In terms of sales.
Which is the default understanding of "successful," so if Clint meant "successful" by some other measure, say so. Conversions? Promoting piety? Building up the faith among the faithful? Inspiring?

"I'm defining success by popularity/exposure, longevity and units moved."

Oh, by THAT definition.
The answer, then, seems obvious. And it is NOT Jack Chick tracts. In fact, by Jack Chick's measure, it might be called the ANTI-Chick title.

Chick tracts have a great volume of distribution, and have evangelized many, but they are giveaways. Like March of Comics or Buster Brown Comic Book.

The idea of a Christian comic book being sold alongside other comics at the news-stand was current in the 1940s and 1950s, but fell out of favor by the 1960s.

Christian comics have been sold in non-traditional (for comic books) venues, e.g. Christian book stores. Al Hartley's Spire Comics followed that pattern, and Chick's Crusader series.

So, I guess that the most successful Christian comic book "title" would be "TREASURE CHEST OF FUN AND FACT," which was sold to parochial school students in Catholic schools, bi-weekly during the school year, from 1946 to 1972, but was not distributed on news-stands.

"I'm defining success by popularity/exposure, longevity and units moved."

A new issue every 2 weeks, throughout the school year, for 27 years. And for a while, there were summer-school issues, too.

502 issues. 27 years. God knows how many students.

In your face, Jack Chick.

Artists included Reed Crandall, Graham Ingels, Joe Orlando, Joe Sinnott, Murphy Anderson, and Jim Mooney.

Which is what brought it to MY attention, since I never heard of them until some 8 or 9 years ago. I stumbled across a copy while leafing through the discount bin, where there was a pristine copy with a Jesus Crucified cover and Reed Crandall interior art.

It has some nice pious stuff in it, educational, historical, plus fun fiction with, for the most part, an uplifting religious or civic moral to the stories. Plus humor.

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I wonder if that would include reprints? "This Was Your Life" was one of the first Chick tracts published and it continues to be a popular title for the past 35 years. That would have to include sales because people buy the tracts to giveaway to the public. The fact that Chick is still publishing today is a testament to his success and that his company continues to be viable, unlike many publishers of Christian titles that have come and gone through the years.

I think that "This Was Your Life" by Chick may be one of the most successful Christian titles and Chick is the most successful Christian publisher.
//I think that "This Was Your Life" by Chick may be one of the most successful Christian titles and Chick is the most successful Christian publisher.//

Could be. However, "Treasure Chest" was not the ONLY Christian comic published by George A. Pflaum, so there is the issue of circulation of Pflaum's entire line going back to the 1940s.

Is it not like comparing apples and oranges to compare a tract to a traditional-format 36-page color comic book title? Production costs are completely different.

(Of course, if we are trying to learn something from this, then why do most contemporary Christian comics follow a traditional comics format rather than the tract format? I daresay most Christian comics folks have learned little from Chick about how to do Christian comics, eh?)

In the history of comics, was there ever a newspaper comic strip which was Christian, and which exceeded both Pflaum and Chick in its reach?

Isn't it interesting that the two publishers mentioned so far are the names of the guys who run the operations. Jack T. Chick. George A. Pflaum.

So, will we be seeing Ralph E. Miley Christian comics in that roster one day? And will it be mainly tracts?

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I'd have to say Archangels, by Eternal Studios/Cahaba Productions. Their stories were strong, the art was good and it was very competitive in terms of being on a quality level very close with titles done by secular companies such as Marvel, DC, etc...

Does anyone remember Illuminator? It had great promise (in my mind) but only lasted three issues.
Though Archangels had a very successful run, I think a key to success is longevity. Do the titles stand the test of time. Every year at San Diego at least one person usually asks about Archangels, however, people continue to pick up the Chick tracts. Several people always have some comment about Chick and his tracts continue to be a popular draw at the CCAS table.

Concerning the Illuminator, Don Ensign, Kevin Yong, and I wrote an extensive article about the Thomas Nelson/Marvel collaboration that appeared in the New Creation newsletter. We might post that article on the New Creation blog.
I can understand the longevity issue and Chick tracts always catch your attention. Please, I'd love to read the article you did about the Thomas Nelson/Marvel collaboration.

Ralph Ellis Miley said:
Though Archangels had a very successful run, I think a key to success is longevity. Do the titles stand the test of time. Every year at San Diego at least one person usually asks about Archangels, however, people continue to pick up the Chick tracts. Several people always have some comment about Chick and his tracts continue to be a popular draw at the CCAS table.

Concerning the Illuminator, Don Ensign, Kevin Yong, and I wrote an extensive article about the Thomas Nelson/Marvel collaboration that appeared in the New Creation newsletter. We might post that article on the New Creation blog.
I won't presume to enter the debate between Mr. Miley and Mr. Porta, but I would like to put my own two bits worth into this discussion...

Clint, thanks for defining success. That was my big question, because I feel good answers depend on your definition. I intend to limit my replies to what we might consider modern Christian comics, too. While I have nothing against the "classics," I suspect you were referring to the more modern comics.

Most popular/exposure - I'd say it's a toss up between Archangels and the Z GNs, with an honorable mention to the EyeWitness books.
Greatest longevity - Cardinal Adventures. No one else comes close to Kurt's 17 year run.
Units moved - Left Behind! Those skinny GNs had sales numbers that made Marvel & DC exceedingly jealous of Tyndale. If someone could pick up the rights and continue the series, they'd have a built in market...

A question for the historians, though - I thought I'd heard "Treasure Chest" was available to the public in the last few years of its run. Is this true or not?

A question for the record - who has the rights to Illuminator? That's another book that ought to be resurrected.
I haven't a clue as who would own the rights to the Illuminator. I would assume it would be Thomas Nelson since Marvel was just serving as the production house. And I think all the parties associated with Illuminator no longer work at TN. I seriously doubt that TN knows that it owns the rights.
Illuminator was exciting at the time. An obvious christian themed main stream comic. I'm a fan of most anything christian comics related. I'm extremely fond of the "superhero catagory". So many great titles have been mentioned. Is there any information on Power Mark? Is that series in the running? I'm giving them credit for what I believe to be a 12 issue run and then manga size TPB reprint. great stuff.
PowerMark ran for 24 issues, Clint. It's either on an extended break or no longer being published. Maybe someone else knows more...

PowerMark #1 shows 2000 for it's copyright. #24 seems to be missing a copyright date, but it can't be more than a few years old. I'm guessing it came out in 2005 or 06. For now, let's call it 24 issues plus digests over a 6 year run. That's nothing to sneeze at.

I heard somewhere that PowerMark Productions and/or Quest Ministries (the publisher) was connected with the Assemblies of God Church. Did that make it a denominational publication? Can anyone confirm or deny this?

So the question remains, what did the PowerMark people do right?

Clint DeRon Johnson said:
Is there any information on Power Mark? ... I'm giving them credit for what I believe to be a 12 issue run and then manga size TPB reprint. great stuff.
Ralph Ellis Miley said:
I haven't a clue as who would own the rights to the Illuminator. I would assume it would be Thomas Nelson... I seriously doubt that TN knows that it owns the rights.

I would have guessed Marvel, because llluminator was published, copyrighted and trademarked by Marvel. It was also anchored in Marvel continuity (issue #1 refers to Dallas as "the place where the X-Men were supposed to have died.") It would be nice to find out, even though I can't afford to do anything with it.

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