While I have been out of the scene for a while, I will always hold Christian comics near and dear to my heart as a medium of entertainment and worship. As I get time, I plan to write a series of articles discussion what that entails and implies.
However, I wanted to write some advice to friends who are currently working on a Christian Comic project or are planning to do so in the near future. First, allow me to establish my credentials, such as they were, as not everyone knows (Surprising, to be true!) I have worked directly in the Christian Comics industry for well over a decade, working side by side with other artists, writers and editors. I coordinate the site, Cyberlight Comics, so I have had the opportunity to help dozens work on their own projects. I have developed an eye for what works and what does not. I have been an artist myself for over 2 decades, and I a reader of fantastic stories and comics for longer than that. As the adage goes, even if I didn’t know what good art was, I know what I like! Here’s a list of quick tips for those looking to make their own Christian Comics.
1. Work with others whenever possible, even if it means putting your dreams on the back burner. Go to the comic shop and pick up any professionally made, entertaining comic of your choice. Now, look at the credentials. Figure out the percentage of those comics that were written, drawn, inked, edited and colored by the same person. Chances are, that number is zero. There’s a reason for that. The best comics are made by teams. If you want to impress the world with your work and move hearts for God, give you best and work with others. With that being said, the vast majority of Christian Comics are made from beginning to end by one person. The rest of my advice below is written with that fact in mind.
2. K.I.S.S. You may have heard of this particular acronym before. It means Keep It Simple, Silly. Many of the artists I meet, have this idea for an awesome team of Christian heroes in the vein of something like X-Men. That SOUNDS awesome, but the reality of drawing comics consumes a lot of time, and effort. Set up the depth of your plot, premise and story work with this reality in mind. Consider writing about a single protagonist rather than a whole group. It’s much easier to write, much easier to produce and the result will have a better chance to hook your audience. Speaking of….
3. Get right into the action! I don’t know why…but we tend to make a lot of comics with a ton of exposition on the front end. That puts our audience to sleep before we even get started. It doesn’t help that a lot of Christian Comics do not make it to their second or third comics… and if they do, they’ve lost their audience before they start.
4. Watch the Cheese. This one is a little hard to quantify, but I will try. A lot of the Christian Comics I read beat people over the head with moral values and they do it in a way that’s totally in the reader’s face throughout the comic. It comes across as an episode of Leave It To Beaver. That approach worked in the 50’s, but not so much in the modern day. Writers such as C.S. Lewis understood this, and used a lot of allegory in his fictional writing. Jesus also did the same in the parables. There was a time for preaching a teaching truth directly, and a time for a more subtle approach found in the parables. Comics are parables, not sermons. So… leave the preaching and cheesy approaches for other mediums. Find an approach that works with this generation’s mindset to reach them for Christ.