Saturday, May 10, 2008

Restriction or Freedom

As editor of Megazeen I receive a few submissions a week from guys (mostly guys) who want to draw comics. I am not the best writer that I know and certainly not the best artist, so critiquing these submissions can be very awkward for me- I mean, who am I? But the fact is I am the editor of Megazeen, so my call (whether right or wrong) counts for something. I guess.
The hardest part, for me, is taking a look at work that really has no true vision. It may not be that the artist has no vision, but the work is like watered down iced tea. This seems to be a trap that many believers fall into when it comes to Christian comics. The artist, whether consciously or not, finds Christianity to be restrictive with regard to art and possibly in regard to life.

That's so unfortunate. Following Christ should not be viewed as adhering to a long list of rules and expectations. It should be viewed as freedom from the bondage of sin. When you're free, life is good. When you're free, you can have fun and enjoy life. Sure there's rules- but keeping in line with them simply accentuates the good life we've got.

(Side note: I remember the old comic strip Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. Calvin invented this game called Calvinball, and would make up "the rules" as he went along, and conveniently void those rules when the game wasn't going his way. The strips moved at a maniacal pace and were hysterical- but when you read them, you realize Calvin really wasn't enjoying the game at all, and he'd inevitably get into a fight with Hobbes over it. However, usually Hobbes or Calvin's babysitter would start out frustrated with the game but could turn it to their advantage once they caught on.)

That said, I'm still surprised with the number of submissions I get that are tired old versions of the same old stuff, more suited for a church bulletin than a raw indy zine.

I don't want a strip that's going to make some old lady chuckle (the old lady who sits in the third pew every Sunday wearing her purple blazer and a hat, by golly a hat). I want a strip that's going to make a skateboarder spurt milk out of his nose.

I don't want a tired old sermon about Hell and fear of it. I want something that will scare the pants off someone for real and get under their skin. I'm not interested in the third-hand polished-up retelling of someone else's testimony- I want to read a real story story from the heart, warts and all.

I don't want a bunch of inside jokes about Vacation Bible School or the church collection plate, or old cliche's with an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other. I don't want church talk with words like sanctification, consecration, condemnation, salvation, revelation, new creation, glorify, edify... am I making a point here?

I want YOU. And I think God does too. And I don't think God is in the least interested in entertaining Christians with safe little comics that make the old ladies chuckle politely.
This is obviously a lot heavier than a single entry, so expand on some of these points in the weeks to come. The point of this series is NOT to discourage or make anyone feel bad. The point is to encourage you to get in touch with true storytelling vision, true artistic vision. Don't allow tradition to dictate what's acceptable.

Let's play Calvinball.

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