Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Following the Company Line?

I was forwarded this link to a recent PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY article, about Buzz Dixon's line of graphic novels, (Serenity, Goofy Foot Girl) currently published by Thomas Nelson:
http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6544434.html?nid=2789

Having first met Buzz back in 2004, when he was shopping the concept of Serenity and I was releasing the first Eye Witness graphic novel, (See: http://www.headpress.info/) , we seemed to both be on the same wave-length about bringing more books with a Christian foundation into the market of comics, manga and graphic novels, (from the subtle to the overt). Therefore, it somewhat saddens me to see him basically speaking the Thomas Nelson company line, "that our graphic novels are not necessarily Christian"...in the hopes of gaining wider reconition in the secular book trade, (see my blog from 2/12 on Thomas Nelson, to more fully understand how I view this stategy).

But then again....Buzz has high hopes for his properties, (as adressed in the article), being tranferred to other media and has partnered (ironically) with this "Christian publishing giant" to help make that happen.

It's funny but this very situation is one I've sat and talked about with brother Christian creators (of all of the arts...music, movies, comics etc...), for years and years! What if one of us created a book/movie/song that became widely popular and was offered a deal with a major company/publisher to make some serious dollars with it, would we be willing to tone down its Christian themes to make it more widely accessible? It's a fork in the road anyone wishing to create works with overt Christian themes, or messages, must deal with when working in a pop culturish industry. Do I stay my course and not sacrifice my desire to expand the kingdom through my works, or do I go down the path for more sales, more exposure, more money, in exchange for potentially having to give up some of my editiorial control of my creations to do so?

Is this moral conumstrom unique to Christian creators?...of course not, think of how many tales of creative types "selling out to take the big money" you've heard in your lifetime. It's just that with those who profess a goal larger than earning money or fame, (re: the great commission), it seems like the decision becomes magnified.

Disclaimer: Since I have not talked to Buzz about this yet, don't be mislead that I'm inferring that this is the course Buzz has taken with his books...it's just that this interview, coming on the heals of a similar statement from his publisher a month earlier, has caused me to wonder out loud. Buzz Dixon is a wonderful person, an honorable businessman and to date Serenity has been one of the more pleasant and well received Christian themed american-manga published and my hope is that his core mission for his properties does indeed stay the same.

RJ Luedke
Head Press Publishing

1 comment:

Buzz Dixon said...

Hi, Robert!

Thanx for the nice mention of our published interview. As is often the case, we say something in an interview and the write up comes across in a somewhat different context.

No, we are not abandoning Christian content, but we are doing entertainment firmly grounded in Judeo-Christian teachings. Yes, we want to be popular with mainstream audiences who are looking for entertainment but not specifically seeking branded Christian entertainment. Consider THE SOUND OF MUSIC; content-wise it's an extremely Christian story with several powerful Christian themes intertwined, but I don't think 99% of the people who have seen the play or the movie think of it as specifically "Christian" in content.

Just as any Lutheran who reads any of Garrison Keillor's Lake Woebegone stories will instantly recognize certain attitudes and behaviors marking the characters as Lutheran, so will any Christian reading Realbuzz Studios' graphic novels recognize our characters as Christian. Conversely, just as non-Lutherans can read and delight in the Lake Woebegone stories without realizing they're being exposed to the Lutheran mindset, so can non-Christians (and non-practicing Christians) enjoy our stories.

Indeed, if you look at what we’re currently publishing, you’ll see we run the spectrum from overtly Christian content in SERENITY to entertainment with recognizable Christian themes in GOOFYFOOT GURL to the allegorical themes of COUPLERS, our new sci-fi epic series that takes place in a setting as far removed from the contemporary world as Narnia or Middle-Earth yet at the same time sharing those same core Christian values.

As we've taken pains to explain from the beginning, Realbuzz Studios is producing values reinforcement tools, we are not producing evangelical tools. The evangelical tools are vital, but as Paul wrote, all of the laborers in Christ's fields are equally important, each in their own way. Some sow, some tend, some reap.

We trust you and others will keep reading Realbuzz graphic novels and continue to hold our feet to the fire to make sure we stay on course!

Yours in Christ,
Buzz Dixon, president
Realbuzz Studios