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Faith-Based Comic Book Market Continues To Grow Print Email
Written by Staff   
Monday, 15 August 2011 11:23 AM America/New_York

Digital options fuel interest in pictured-based editions and let Christian artists bypass 'publishing gatekeepers'

Fueled by the latest big-budget Hollywood release based on a comic book hero, interest is growing in Christian graphic novels.Kingstone-Media-booth

As Captain America debuted at No. 1 in the box office in July, creators of faith-based comic books were reporting heightened openness to titles with spiritual themes and topics.

Among those seeing business growth is Kingstone Media Group (KMG), whose titles are now being distributed to secular stores by Diamond Comic Distributors, the biggest provider to comic book retailers.

Kingstone Comics titles are also increasingly popular with church and other Christian stores, said the company’s publisher and CEO, Art Ayris. Kingstone has even opened its own 600-square-foot bookstore at its Leesburg, Fla., church campus-based headquarters.

With new imprints coming in early 2012—Chronicles Media for historical and educational titles, Valor for military themes and Classix for adaptations of classic literature—Kingstone has exhibited at several recent major publishing events, including a heightened presence at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in July.

“We want to become the Marvel (Comics) of the faith market, and so we really just wanted to make a statement that we are here,” Ayris said of the ICRS booth. “We have grown to the point where we are really serious about the market. Adding to Kingstone’s current 25 titles will be a series that will build towards a complete graphic Bible.”

Meanwhile, the company has also seen success with its Bay Forest Books imprint of novels. Recent release The Disappearing Man by Doug Peterson—based on the true story of a slave who mailed himself to freedom in a large box—has been optioned for a movie. Another new title promoted at ICRS was 1 Step Away, a modern-day retelling of the story of Job by Eric Wilson, author of the best-sellingFireproof novelization (Thomas Nelson).

KMG also had a presence at Book Expo America in May and Comic-Con International in July in San Diego, which drew more than 100,000 comic book and movie fans. Kingstone President and COO Steve Blount was among the panelists for a discussion on “Christian Comics: The Calling of the Artist” at Comic-Con.

Also taking part in the presentation was Sergio Cariello, the former DC Comics and Marvel Comics artist who illustrated The Action Bible, an updating of David C. Cook’s successful The Picture Bible, released last year.

The discussion was part of a series of events organized at Comic-Con by the Christian Comic Arts Society (CCAS), in partnership with Chalice Press. The publisher’s Marvelous Myths: Marvel Superheroes and Everyday Faith by Russell W. Dalton, was handed out to attendees by CCAS representatives.

Another Comic-Con exhibitor was Robert James Luedke, with a limited edition of his The Collected Eye Witness Slipcase Set, bringing together his Christian-themed graphic novels that have won five independent book awards.

Luedke attributed the growing openness to faith-based comic books in part to digital publishing developments. 

“I’d been approached by several well-known comic pros over the years who expressed their admiration for what I was doing and who confessed they’d always wanted to tell a faith-based story, but there just wasn’t a vehicle or publisher to whom they could bring the idea,” he said. “That’s where the digital age comes in. 

“Even more creators can bypass the publishing gatekeepers—many of which who are not friendly to anything with an 
evangelical slant to it—and self-publish their projects with distribution directly to the end users through digital platforms,” Luedke added. 

“This allows them to publish their works digitally or as a Web comic and build a fan base, where eventually they can then publish graphic novels or collections of their works in the traditional sense.”