Recently, I have felt God pushing me in a new, yet old direction. And the short version of this story ends in “I shall return to drawing Wildlight comics in the near future.” The longer version contains some interesting details for those who wish to know more, out of love for the character or just curiosity about the direction of a fellow writer and artist.
A couple of weeks ago, I got an idea to begin waking up earlier to allow extra time to work on my hobbies. I set my alarm for 5.30am, instead of 6.30am, and used the time to do just that. I knocked out a couple of drawings and spent some of the time just reorganizing my workspace. As I did so, I would often listen to YouTube videos. A few days ago, a particular video about Christian entertainment grabbed my attention. I felt it used a heavy handed approach in critiquing Christian music and moves. Yet, I felt it made one point extremely well.
Often, in Christian media, we see atheists and non-Christians portrayed as two dimensional characters who mimic a Disney villain more than anything else. Conversely, the screen writers and directors ensure that the Christian characters comes across as honorable, happy and fulfilled, regardless of the circumstances they face. We see this clearly in popular Christian movies such as “God Is Not Dead.”
I had to think about it for a solid day, but I recalled that this reminded me a lot of Chick Tracts. As a kid, I read plenty of those. As an adult I feel they certainly have had some impact on leading people closer to God. However, I also believe they often did damage and pushed people away in how they misrepresented them. In the classic tract on Dungeons & Dragons, Jack Chick portrays the teenagers playing the game as horrific, demon worshipers who take the game way too far. As a long time D&D player myself, I know that we do not even come close to this depiction in how we play our game or act. I believe that, as artists, we do not honor God when we misrepresent various groups of people in our stories.
In writing Wildlight, I tried to do so with these concerns in mind. Aware of “Christian Cheese” in stories, I made the main character, Tammy, more down to earth. She struggles with addictions, faith, and her relationship with her father. Her antagonist, Max Domain, certainly checks off a few boxes in the ‘cheese’ column (starting with his name). However, I did my best to portray realistic motivations that would drive him to take the dark steps he did. While I clearly did not hit every goal that I wanted, I hope that future comics and stories will do a better job, as I keep this recent video I saw in mind.
Later, I logged into my DeviantArt account to upload a drawing. I used to do this nearly every day back before 2010. Since then, my history shows I barely logged in once each year to upload a drawing or look something up. When I logged in a few days ago, however, I noticed a message I received over a year ago. In it was a drawing of my characters from my various portfolios on the site, focused around Wildlight. As you can see here, a lot of talent and time went into completion of this work (Link to this artist’s DA page). My jaw hit the ground. I sat bewildered and humbled at the same time. Clearly, there are more than a few people out there who, years later, still find inspiration in the story and characters. This certainly motivates me to move forward.
I have a number of things to do in order to get Wildlight stories to happen again. First, I need to figure out what kind of story telling method I want to use. Those who followed my blog a super long time know than I have often considered writing Wildlight stories with illustrations, rather than doing full blown comics. Essentially, what I would do is draw an illustration for every page or two of writing. Each Wildlight story would be a novella (or short story) with numerous drawings spread througout. Alternatively, I could continue to draw it as a normal comic, as I have done in the past. The first method allows me to get content out more regularly for my readers and ultimately tell more of Tammy’s story. The second will take more time, even with the shortcuts I often utilize. However, I believe most people tend to prefer it. I would love to hear your comments below. I will likely do a short example of both approaches to help people decide. This exercise would help me get in some much needed practice to grease the wheels, so to speak.
As another step, I need to review the entire original story and take notes. I do not recall all of the details from those 70+ episodes. Furthermore, I made plenty of errors in those comics with names, places, etc. simply because I failed to document details properly. From there, I can begin to plan and plot out deeper stories for Tammy’s future. To do this, I will use a writer’s program called Scrivener. Detailing this program moves beyond the scope of this post, but I recommend writers check into it for their own use.
Finally, I do have other stories and characters. These include The Least of Us, a story of a group of children with special abilities who try to escape a religious cult, Stardust, a spin-off from Wildlight about Tammy’s friend, and A Journey’s End, a high fantasy story about a group of heroes facing their final conflict. I believe I will eventually bring those stories to light, though they will almost certainly happen through the ‘novella with illustrations’ approach. From time to time, I will do some writing or drawing on those as well to keep my creative juices flowing.
If you wish the stay current on my progress with Wildlight and/or or projects, you may simply keep following this blog. In a large way, this shift will be a return to form, as I originally started this online journal as a way for me to express my journey in writing and drawing. Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter. I will also post updates on the website of Cyberlight Comics. Last, but not least, I do have a mailing list for Cyberlight that you can join by emailing me.
My prayer and hope would be that God would receive glory through what I do here. Also, I would also love it if this somehow inspires others to use their gifts and talents to glorify God.
By His Grace,
Phil aka JCServant