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          Front Page




International Christian Comics Competition Puts the Medium in a Serious Light

By Paul Logan
Journal Staff Writer
    Comic books are humongous outside the United States.
    "Shonen Jump," a Japanese comic, sells 3.2 million copies weekly. Each is about the size of Albuquerque's two-inch-thick yellow pages directory.
    To help open doors for upcoming Christian cartoonists, the International Christian Comics Competition was held recently in Albuquerque.
    The winners— among the 80 entrants— didn't receive prizes. Instead, their work will be featured in a book, says Nate Butler of Albuquerque. Butler is president of COMIX35, a nonprofit media ministry and contest sponsor.
    "It's critical for Christians to be involved in the production of this material," Butler says. "I think the show is a really good chance to display the talent out there worldwide."
    The amateur best-of-show winners were José Carlos Gutiérrez and Carlos Eduardo González of Mexico City for their entry, "Special Guest." The comic dealt with the Mexican youth club scene.
    A leading U.S. comic like "Superman" sells about 1.2 million copies, he says.
    "In other countries (comics) may be called manga, bande dessinee, historieta or stripverhalen, but the reason for its popularity is the same— it's a graphic form of literature that is easy to read and understand," Butler says.
    COMIX35 was founded in 1996 to improve Christian use of comics-style literature for evangelization and discipleship. He says COMIX35 has held comics training seminars around the world for hundreds of attendees from more than 40 countries.
    The idea for an international competition came while Butler was in Bulgaria for a training seminar. He brought samples of Christian comics.
    "This competition has generated fresh material for publishers and given new 'voices' an opportunity to speak messages of life, hope and healing to the world," Butler says. "The competition book will act as an international portfolio."
    The contest is the first step in COMIX35's plan to have the International Christian Comics Rights & Resources Center in Albuquerque, says Butler, an artist who worked with Jim Henson Productions, Archie, DC and Marvel comics.
    Hundreds of people viewed the entries displayed at Immanuel Presbyterian Church.
    Butler says the display will be exhibited this fall at the University of New Mexico.
    Amateurs Nathan Watson and Steven Wyatt of California placed first in the people's choice award.
    Clóvis Shimabukuro of Brazil placed first among professional artists.