Comic Books Spread The Word

Christian comic book artist Sherwin Schwartzrock works on a drawing of a character named Timothy for his "ArmorQuest" comic in his Minnetonka, Minn., studio May 9, 2005.
Zap! Pow! Amen!

Whether it's fanciful tales of jewel-colored angels battling demons for a man's soul or retellings of familiar stories from the Bible, Christian comic books are taking wing.

"Christians have the best stories to tell," said Christian comic book artist and graphic designer Sherwin Schwartzrock. "The world is full of hurting people, with drug abuse and with all types of problems that we have as human beings. Jesus Christ is an answer."

Using comics is a delicate balance for artists and writers trying to spread a religious message through a medium sometimes viewed as frivolous or tawdry. But to Schwartzrock, comics are just like movies.

"You can produce `The Passion (of the Christ)' or you can produce porn," he said.

The number of Christian comic books has grown rapidly in the past few years, as creators have teamed up to make distribution easier. There are now dozens of ongoing series, although they're still vastly outnumbered by traditional superhero titles.

Such comics are not new. Spire Christian Comics told inspirational stories of Jesus and Johnny Cash in the 1970s, with cartoonist Al Hartley illustrating such titles as "The Cross and the Switchblade" and a line of Christian-themed Archie comics. Marvel Comics published biographies of Pope John Paul II in 1983 and Mother Teresa in 1984. In 2002, DC Comics' Vertigo line published Kyle Baker's graphic novel about King David.