Friday, January 10, 2014
Because Their Good!
In this milieu, where comics are deeply shrouded in apocalyptic questions that remain infinitely pensive about any kind of answers, Christians have a unique opportunity to begin to re-write apocalypses of their own. I do not mean for a moment to suggest an “us” vs. “them” mentality, but rather a point of dialogue. Comics have a complicated history with religion. While Moore, of Watchmen fame, is decidedly not a follower of Christian tradition, many characters in mainstream comics are explicitly religious. The very first graphic novel was entitled A Contract with God. The trend has not gone away, and it is not likely to. Writers in comics and comic theory are obsessed with dealing with all aspects of life, not just acts of outrageous machismo or whatever events grant the most “POW!” balloons.Pardon me, but GET OVER IT!
Comics also support a highly unique reading audience, generally made up of society’s marginalized, who find solidarity with losers like Peter Parker and hope in figures like Superman. This is an audience that could find quite a bit of help from a Christ who came for precisely such a group. Increasingly, comic fans have been finding resonance with the nihilistic postmodern voices of Moore and others, and rightly so - there is something deeply wrong with the world. Nonetheless, it is time that Christians enter this discussion explicitly, offering a taste of what Christ offers - not only an end to the world that we see, but also the inauguration of a new world, a world where swords are turned into plowshares rather than turned against a new, cosmic enemy.
At this juncture, we stand in a unique place to produce another Dostoevsky, another St. John, another Isaiah in the world of comics. Frankly, with all of the gods, monsters, aliens, explosions and experimentations already going on there, we are probably responding to an invitation long lost in the mail.
One - I doubt the medium, despite its popularity among the current generation will ever be taken seriously enough to produce another Dostoevsky. There is some very good work going on in comics, but people will never give "picture books" that much credit. Two, "Comics also support a highly unique reading audience, generally made up of society’s marginalized" - not any more. That was true for my generation, but for the current generation they all read comics and have endless debates about which comic is better. True, few "geek out" and have huge collections, etc. But everybody reads them - EVERYBODY.
And now to my third and truly serious point - Christians should be involved so we can rewrite the apocalyptic visions of the comics? That ain't how Dostoevsky did it! Should Christians be doing comics? Oh yeah, Christians should be doing most things in media (porn production, maybe not, but you get the idea.) But trying to do "Christian" media is a mistake, based on eschatology or anything else. They should simply do it will and do it from their hearts as Christians. It is Christians doing comics that would make the somehow "Christian," not explicitly Christian thematic materials. Christians should do comics because they are good.
Christians comics reasons