Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Comics and Christianity
Graphic novels interest me because they're often long narratives that allow us to get to know characters better than any other format. Even long-running TV shows don't compare to the longevity of characters like Superman, Batman, Captain America, or Wonder Woman. Superhero comics remain our most popular comics, and these stories also appear in wildly-popular TV, movie, and video game adaptations, so some powerful spiritual and emotional needs must be met by them.There is more to it than even this I think. Evangelicals tend to ignore what an important role literature can play in the spread of the gospel and in our own spiritual formation. We look for self help books when we need to read Crime and Punishment.
Part of the reason for this is that literature can be difficult to access. I was told I needed to read Crime and Punishment many times, and I did. It wasn't until I had a good teacher that I got it. Good teachers are not always available, what are we to do?
Well, increasing the accessibility of literature is one way to do so. The icon, and considered in the Orthodox tradition, is "written," not drawn. It was born as a means of communicating messages of spiritual import to those that were illiterate. Well, barely anyone in the US is illiterate anymore in a functional sense, but many are there for whom Crime and Punishment would be an impossibility.
Enter the comic book, analogous to the icon. I wonder what would happen if we could move past the Chick tracts and other blunt instruments of published evangelism and made comics of the quality of those cited in Garrett's piece with the depth of understanding of a Dostoevsky or a Milton? Why does Evangelicalism seem to produce only blunt instruments?
Of those Garrett cites, Buffy The Vampire Slayer has shown some deeply Christian thematic material. I used to got o church with one of the writers, so I am not surprised. I wish there was more of it.