Advice For Writers: Religion In Comic Books

The advice for this one is real simple. Avoid it.

Okay, you won’t listen? You say you want to include religion for a bit of “real world” flavor?

Fine. If you refuse to accept my initial sage advice, here you go. You can always use these fine points for writing comics with religion.

1. Keep It Vague: See, you can have a character believe in God. But do not really show them going to Church. And don’t make it clear what denomination they might be. If you do, that might require research and then, you might even have to contemplate how to portray the character’s lifestyle. It’s much simpler to give them jewelry that “indicates” they are religious.  A cross, for instance(If your character is a Christian).  That will tell your audience this person has religious beliefs.  No need to show more, that covers religion.  Do not, however, burden your audience with specific types of iconigraphic jewelry that might explain what denomination of faith they adhere to.  This also applies to a character being Jewish. It’s a little different for Muslims. Still avoid suggestions that they go to Mosque. But you can show them doing things like reading the Koran and praying. It shows you are culturally aware.

2. Villains: Villains are the big exception to # 1. See, your villain can be excessively religious and talk about God all the time. Religion is a great shorthand to tell your readers,”This person is an evil and hate filled bigot!” This is particularly effective if you are writing an X-Book for Marvel.

3. Uptight!: This is important. Portray your religious characters as conservative. And really uptight. Afterall, we all know that, for example, all christians are uptight prudes, terrified of sex and change. A note to artists, a couple options for portraying the religious: Really hot. This primarily pertains to young female characters (especially who might “cast off” their prudishness for the hero). Another choice is to portray them as withered and ugly. We all know religious people hate fun, it should show how repression has made them ugly. And finally, all your religious men, especially preachers/priests, should be lecherous. The should be secretly (or blatantly) after getting into someones-anyones-pants. This all leads to # 4.

4. Satire: Satire is your catch all so that if someone is offended, you can just say, “What-you don’t get satire?” This way, you make them look stupid.

5. Flip Flop: Go for Polemic Gestault. What is that? Basically, it’s the inversion of things traditionally considered good or evil. Say for instance, you want to do a comic book about people who face off against supernatural forces. Now, all our lives we are told God and angels are good. So shake things up. Make God a selfish bastard without any concern for his creation. Make the Angels jerks and cowardly losers. Or make the angels downright evil. Make Satan or other demons sympathetic and just outright “misunderstood”. Not only will you trip your audience out with something they have never seen before in the history of comics…you can make an entire critically acclaimed career off of it!

There you are, the best and most sensical approach to religion in comic books.

13 thoughts on “Advice For Writers: Religion In Comic Books Leave a comment

  1. I’d also add — Keep it one dimensional. Portray people of faith in comics conservative and only give them conservative views. Don’t give them any tolerance or ability to respect other viewpoints and values outside of their own.

    Another great list, Thom!

  2. 🙂

    The last one is something I’m just tired of. It WAS creative the first time, but now everybody thinks that making God evil is somehow rly intelligent and the best idea evar >.>;;;

    Love the list 😀

  3. Oh! Oh, I get it! This entry is satire!

    Phew!

    I was about to experience a common sense explosion!

    I should warn you, though, those folks at Virgin Comics and the people who are publishing Jalila are writing religion like it’s part of everyday life. I’m just sayin.

  4. ”This person is an evil and hate filled bigot!” This is particularly effective if you are writing an X-Book for Marvel.

    What about 616 Nightcrawler?

  5. You’ve left out the most crucial ingredient: jewellery. Religion is primarily about what you wear around your neck, or in your earlobes. How will anyone know your character is Catholic unless they drape themselves in crosses? Don’t feel obligated to understand which denomination uses which cross or what they symbolize, though, that will just confuse things.

  6. I hate the cliched portrayal of Christians as uptight prudes. It’s like, man, isn’t there some new way to depict Christians as uptight prudes?

  7. Holy crap…you are right! I mean, that’s one thing I was trying to allude to with “Vague”…Man…I am a religious person and I dropped the ball on this one like six times (Even got a phone call about one I missed)!

    I will get that corrected.

    Lowland_rider: Ha! 🙂

  8. The research part is really true. Paint Christians with broad brushes, you know we all look alike.

    Seriously, one of the best balances in terms of spiritual story and supenatural comicbook is the Series OUT THERE. It was a great book that looked at faith without getting bogged down by religion.

  9. Not all Christians hate sex or fun. We believe in having sex for pleasure as long as you are married, and I, a Christian, even support masturbation for singles. Only a few Christians hate sex and fun, and it is only those Christians who give Christianity a bad name. Love your idea of a religious comic book, though. Perhaps you can portray Jehovah’s Witnesses in an unfavorable light, since they are a Christian cult who don’t believe in the Cross or the Trinity, and they give Christianity a bad name by refusing to celebrate birthdays and holidays, salute/Pledge Allegiance to the Flag, and support the military. They don’t even accept blood transfusions or register to vote, plus they are extremely legalistic in the way that they bring up their children, impose their beliefs on others, and believe that they must work to earn their salvation. Oh, and did I also mention that these people don’t believe in Heaven or Hell, either, except only for those 144,000 who do/did go to Heaven? So, how about it, guys?

  10. I’m a Christian, and I must say that some Christians can be uptight. I’m working on a story where one of the bad guys believes in the rapture and the Great Tribulation and all that comes with that way of viewing prophecy (known as futurism, which I don’t believe in and which I’m sure is not taught in the Bible). This bad guy believes that a major war in the Middle East will get things rolling along. So, he decides to use his money and power to start one.

  11. Not all Christians are uptight. I’m a Christian myself. I believe giving characters religion will flush out their true characters. Make it vague, don’t go into religious detail. Write what you know. And show the world that they are not perfect—-Like sex, lot of Christians believed in sex in marriage but how many people truly live up to it?
    NONE!!!!

    A short story is a defining moment in a characters life—-a novel is make up of tons of short stories. Give a character a highlight for what s/he truly believes in (JN3:16).
    Make it short. Make it sweet. Don’t take up the whole novel or chapter.

    Charles Xavier once said that not all birds are black—-I’m tired on the X-comics making religion look bad. Everytime I see Church of Humanity, so many times just makes me cringe. Why does every human being hates mutants in every X-comics???
    I don’t think Gandhi or Martin Luther King are mutants—they probably fight for mutant rights too. How come there are no Mutant Sympathizers in the X U?

    They seem to favor Muslims more than Christians. I believe there should be BALANCE.
    Pro. X. and Magneto are fighting for mutant rights, it’s just that they don’t agree on how to get there. That’s a perfect balance. The same thing could be said for any superheroes/villains relationships. It would make perfect sense if DareDevil fought another Catholic for a villian, or a Proteston.

    If I didin’t know any better, comic are making religion (especially Christianity) look evil.

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