A Network of Christian Fellowship for Comics Fans, Pros, and Amateurs
Funny, we had a not-too-dissimilar discussion here not too long ago.
This morning I shared with the Webcomics.com community that I was having issues getting links to my latest comics to show up on Reddit. Thanks to some helpful insight (I was using my site's URL repeatedly instead of specifically linking to the page's URL) I was able to get the problem fixed.
But a new problem, one that can't be solved via technical troubleshooting, soon reared its head. Within an hour of my putting my post up, someone there had voted it down (and getting downvoted to "0" makes your link disappear). A couple of friends from the Webcomics.com community said they'd experienced the same trolling, and went out of their way to upvote my comic to get it visible again. But one member brought up a point that I knew I would probably hear someday, yet nevertheless made me bristle somewhat:
"It's possible that Reddit's just 'not your crowd'", he made in reference to the currently ongoing Creation vs. Evolution dialogue happening in my comic. "These are not pages that a strongly atheist crowd like Reddit will love".
I tried to defend my position by stating that this ideological/faith disparity between them would be the crux of a lot of suspicion and conflict between the main characters and toward their Atlantean hosts. They're coming from a world where everything has become secularized and where even right and wrong are considered subjective (our present/near future society) and now suddenly they're minorities in a culture with very defined beliefs and a vastly different version of history from what they're familiar with.
The moderator stepped in to say that the other member had made a valid point; some "other" places might prove more favorable for promoting my work, he said. My hope from the beginning was to merge an entertaining story with Apologetics to hopefully encourage lost readers to pause and consider. Deep down I knew I would likely encounter apathy or outright opposition; I guess in my head I wanted to think it'd be AFTER my comic had established a decent readership and notoriety, not while I'm still struggling to break 200 readers per week.
The question I would ask is, just because my comic isn't getting upvoted on Reddit, does it necessarily mean that no one is reading or that the "door has closed" there? If so, where does that leave me and other Christian writers who want to make our faith part of our work but constantly have to walk that fine line of tolerance many folks have before labeling us as "preachy"? Roddenberry, Straczynsky, Lucas, Herbert...TONS of secular science fiction writers/creators have woven their own worldviews into their stories, and the world loves them for doing so, calls them visionaries. Star Trek, Star Wars, and Dune are chock-full of religious allegory, albeit seen through an atheist/secular lens. But if a Christian tries to do so the door slams shut and we're told our stuff doesn't measure up by default. I John told us it would happen whenever we try to make a statement for the glory of Christ (obviously this rejection isn't limited to comics for certain), so I'm not surprised; it still hurts though, I admit. We're still human and this is still a dream for us.
So where DO we go if the door is shut to us as Christian creators, whether sharing our stories and especially ever making a living from them is concerned? Submitting every outcome to the Lord's will is of the utmost necessity, obviously, but from a practical standpoint when people are telling us to find "other places" they know good and well there are no such places out there. We give and receive encouragement and feedback here at the Christian Comic Arts Society and that's a great thing, but the interaction is from the standpoint of mutually struggling creators, not a tangible, reading, paying audience.
I had to learn early and often to submit whether I'll ever make a penny from my work to God's will. I've always had a burning desire to share the stories of Tomes of Atlantis because I felt the Lord had a purpose for them to affect someone's life for His glory. But the next level of faith-testing comes when someone actively discourages you (even if it's well-intentioned); do you block them out and keep slogging forward, or do you listen to determine if their words have merit? Submitting to God's will means that we and/or our work may be taken in directions we never thought of...and maybe never wanted, truth be told.
For now my intent is to keep the status quo; my posting on Reddit and other secular sites isn't really helping my readership, but the advantage of having a tiny readership to begin with is that they don't really hurt it, either. And maybe, just maybe, there may be a site or two out there that actively promotes and encourages Christian-themed comics for readers. If anyone here can offer any suggestions, I'm all ears. Thanks for hearing me out.