Why Faith-Based Entertainment Remains Largely Absent From Comic-Con

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Every summer, San Diego Comic-Con brings some of the biggest names in geekdom royalty together to one place — along with countless droves of adoring fans.

And while you’re likely to catch a glimpse of a Jedi knight, a debonair cannibal, a mutant or a crew of zombie apocalypse survivors at this event, there’s one thing you’d be hard-pressed to see at Comic-Con: any representation of faith-based media.

According to a July 12 New York Times article, faith-based entertainment, despite making up an increasing share of mainstream movies and TV, still remains mostly absent from the more cult-like fare of Comic-Con.

Mostly, but not completely absent.

At one Comic-Con panel, writer Mark Russell and cartoonist Shannon Wheeler went through an irreverent, 10-minute slideshow detailing the entire (abridged, of course) history of the Bible. When chronicling the epic flood that would have obliterated humankind if it weren’t for Noah’s Ark, Russell displayed a slide entitled “Sorry for the genocide.”

The panel was promotion for Russell and Wheeler’s graphic novel, “God Is Disappointed in You,” which features similarly sardonic re-tellings of familiar Bible stories. Its sequel, called “Apocrypha Now,” is soon to be released as well.

“It’s basically the Bible written for people in a bar,” Russell said, insisting the graphic novel is intended to make the Bible more accessible, not turn it into a punchline.

Still, Russell and Wheeler’s project remained one of the very few representations of faith or Christian ministries in pop culture at this year’s Comic-Con. And no, people cosplaying as the Weeping Angels from “Doctor Who” don’t count as representations of Christian imagery.

“As a mother of boys, my son grew up playing with Batman and Superman action heroes,” says Kelly Shiley, CEO, Mary Square. “The only similar faith based hero out there was “Bible Man.” In my opinion, it is obvious why Christians shy away from the comic category of media. It is a slippery slope to elevate heroes and action figures when the ULTIMATE hero is the center of your faith. Comics can come off as irrelevant or counter intuitive to the Christian faith. Hollywood is much better poised to make films such as War Room, Fireproof, Courageous, and Against the Giants. These films speak to a much wider audience who is cheering for Hollywood to steer their writers in a positive direction. I hope Hollywood continues to put out movies that I’m proud to take my kids to see.”

Despite the lack of faith at Comic-Con, the overall environment in Hollywood appears to be veering toward more faith-based entertainment. The New York Times reported that last month, some of Hollywood’s biggest studio executives met in Los Angeles to note a resurgence in demand for films and TV shows that reflect religious themes.

“Everywhere I go, people are unhappy with the path we are on,” said Nolan Lebovitz, who attended the recent Los Angeles meeting and said he sees opportunity for more faith in pop culture.

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