Comics for Christ

By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  October 10, 2007

Even better, there are lots of secular, popular (and titillating) trends, such as manga or hot-young-celebrity musicals, that can be adapted to meet the tastes of a sacred audience. Z Graphic Novels, along with the Serenity series and other independent Christian comics, are the latest incarnation of this ability to adapt.

In fact, Christian publishers may be so eager to co-opt the manga genre that they are prematurely labeling themselves as such.

“The Zondervan [FAQ] misrepresents both the form and the content of manga,” Douglas Wolk, a well-known pop-culture critic and the author of Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean (and occasional Phoenix contributor), writes in an e-mail. “ ‘Manga’ is usually used to refer to comics in a specific range of visual styles developed in Japan, which isn’t true of a lot of Z’s stuff, and to say that ‘many manga series also tend to celebrate violence and sexual misbehavior’ is pretty misleading. (Some represent them, but representation and endorsement are not the same thing.)”

Even Butler, of COMIX35, questions Zondervan’s decision to market Z Graphic Novels as manga: “I’m a little surprised that they’re calling it that,” lest manga-loving young readers start to believe that “Christians are a little tone deaf about what [kids] are really looking for.”

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