Christian comic books: The Messiah is the message
MINNETONKA, Minn. Zap! Pow! Amen!Whether its fanciful tales of jewel-colored angels battling demons for a mans soul or retellings of familiar stories from the Bible, Christian comic books are taking wing.Christians have the best stories to tell, said Sherwin Schwartzrock, a Christian comic book artist and graphic designer. The world is full of hurting people, with drug abuse and with all types of problems that we have as human beings. Jesus Christ is an answer.Creating comics is a delicate balance for Christian artists and writers using a medium sometimes viewed as frivolous or tawdry. But Schwartzrock says comics are like movies: They can spread an uplifting message as easily as an immoral one.The number of Christian comic books has grown rapidly in the last few years. Some creators teamed up to form Community Comics LLC, a cooperative that links Christian comic-book artists and helps promote and distribute their books.While reliable sales figures arent available, the number of titles has at least doubled, if not tripled, in the past year alone, said Steve MacDonald, who runs the website http://www.christiancomicbooks.net that lists Christian comic books and graphic novels and where to get them.MacDonald estimates there are 40 to 50 ongoing Christian series.Schwartzrock has adapted and illustrated Old Testament stories including Korahs rebellion against Moses and Absaloms revenge against his half-brother. Other comics use superheroes: The PowerMark series, published by PowerMark Productions of Springfield, Mo., has a hero who wears a suit emblazoned with a cross.Schwartzrock, 35, who works at his studio in suburban Minnetonka, says Christian comics dont get a pass with fans just because of the content.We have to create professional quality stories that will stand on their own two feet and not be labeled, Well, its Christian and God will bless it, even though it looks lousy, he said.Among other titles is Davids Mighty Men, an adventure featuring King David and his three warrior companions created, written and drawn by Javier Saltares, who has worked for Marvel, DC and Dark Horse Comics.Coming in June is David: The Shepherds Song, a retelling of the early life of the boy who became king of Israel, by Royden Lepp. And ArmorQuest, written by Ben Avery and illustrated by Schwartzrock, is an allegorical tale of a boy putting on the full armor of God from Ephesians to battle the Dragon Prince. Its set to be published next month.Schwartzrock said comics can help reach preteen boys, who are attracted to the bright images and action.Most boys learn to read by reading comics, said Schwartzrock.But kids dont want to be preached to, Schwartzrock said. If youre going to spend three dollars on a comic book and youre a kid, you dont want to be educated you want to be entertained.Religious comics and tracts are not new. In the 1970s, Spire Christian Comics told inspirational stories of Jesus and Johnny Cash, and cartoonist Al Hartley illustrated such titles as The Cross and the Switchblade and a line of Christian-themed Archie comics. Marvel Comics published biographies of Pope John Paul II in 1983 and Mother Teresa in 1984.Archangels: The Saga, produced by Cahaba Productions of Houston, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The nine-book series, featuring sword-wielding, armored angels battling grotesque demons for a mans salvation, has sold 729,000 copies worldwide in 10 years.Your time is short, demon. The Almighty God has prepared a place for you and your kind, a muscular angel declares as he punches a helmeted, winged demon with a mighty KRAK.Its definitely a ministry tool, said 36-year-old Archangels creator and writer Patrick Scott. Its really meant to evangelize and to plant a seed of hope in the minds of people that have no hope.
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