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Comic-Con, San Diego’s annual convention, is undoubtedly the Mecca of all Sci/Fi and Fantasy fans. There are upwards of 100,000 people who travel from all over the globe to enjoy this once-a-year event in sunny Southern California.
This is the nation’s largest entertainment and pop culture event, and it means that getting a booth is a must-have for all comic book, toy, and collectibles vendors. As the convention sees its first return to San Diego since 2019 — the in-person event was halted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — having any notable presence could mean business for any company, of any size.
Sitting not all that far from media powerhouse Marvel in what they call the “Small Press Pavilion” is Christian Comic Arts Society and fellow partner-in-crime-fighting God and Country Graphics. No surprise that the former is so popular. [Marvel] has a consistent stream of loyal fans congregating at its massive setup — a well-deserved two-booth arrangement — while the latter two tables struggle to compete for the attention of the expected 135,000 attendees.
They and their peers may be small, but the message they send is greater than life.
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Fox News Digital chatted with Eric Jansen from God and Country Graphics and Ralph Miley from New Creation Comics — the two gentlemen holding down the fort at the former’s table — to learn more about the inspiration behind their chosen subgenre and what it means to them to be at “the Con.”
Jansen and Miley are both members of the Christian Comic Arts Society. They met at San Diego Comic-Con during a meeting with CCAS, which has been a fixture at the convention for over 25 years. Their partnership has been in place for many years, but this is the first time that they share a table at the four day experience.
“We’ve had our table, a Spiritual Themes in Comics panel, and we’ve actually had a Sunday service here for about 20 years,” Miley told Fox News Digital. “We made the decision to request a table at this venue, and God was kind to us and allowed us all to share one.
“We both printed our own books a lot over the pandemic and this is the first time anybody’s seeing a bunch of these, so we wanted more than just to be part of the CCAS table this year,” added Jansen, who self-publishes under God and Country Graphics.
“People have this idea of who Christians are and what they’re all about… well, we’re just like anybody else,” Ralph Miley of the Christian Comic Arts Society
Miley, a pastor, described getting to do the work of God through art as his “calling,” adding that comics like his under New Creation has become a sort of alternative subgenre — underscoring a perversive stigma surrounding Christians throughout a multitude of creative media that has existed for some decades now.
“When you talk about alternative press, what’s more alternative than when you share the Gospel?”
“But because we love comic books, it kinda softens the impact when we start sharing the Gospel, because that’s what we’re about: We’re here to shine the light of Christ, to try to bring people to get curious,” Miley explained.
“People have this idea of who Christians are and what they’re all about, but then when they see us here, and we have such a long track record here, they’re like, ‘Oh, they’re not so bad.’ Well, we’re just like anybody else,” Miley said.
Jansen explained to Jansen that, while the CCAS table gives away Evangelical comics for free in order to attract people, the God and Country Graphics booth is just like any other comic shop: They are hoping for a sale because they are publishing the comics.
“A lot of Christians are self-publishers, because there’s not really a big Christian comic book publishing company. The Christian book stores don’t seem to want comic books, and the comic book stores don’t seem to want Christian material — so on the one hand, we’re just like any small publisher.”
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On being relegated to the Small Press Pavilion, Jansen says it’s actually a blessing — calling it the best location in the convention center.
“It’s less expensive. You don’t have a large overhead. For us, we spend a minimal amount, a few hundred dollars for all four days… ” Miley said.
Jansen stated, “And have the same experience.”
Miley shared that convention organizers were gracious enough to provide them with space for previous occasions, when they couldn’t afford it.
“We’ve had such good experiences here with the convention organizers. There was one time where we weren’t able to afford a table, so we’d told them we couldn’t make it. They called us right back and said, ‘It just doesn’t feel right that you guys aren’t here,’ and they comped us a table.”
Jansen claims that the charity was Miley’s kind and Godly nature. This allowed him to build strong relationships with the Con people over the years.
“And then dialoguing with them, letting them know that they’re not less than,” Miley added. “From a pastoral point of view, we’re all sinners. As a pastor, sin makes all things equal. That’s how I approach people. I can’t come at people with an attitude like, ‘Alright then, I’m better than — ’ I can’t. I’ve only been saved by grace.”
Miley spoke out about what Miley thinks the future holds for these gentlemen and their fight for Christianity to be the superpower.
“To have that type of exposure at our first venture together, we’re just thankful for this kind of opportunity,” Miley concluded.
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San Diego Comic-Con International 2022 attendees can visit https://www.comic-con.org/ to learn more about this weekend’s tables, panels and, of course, comics, associated with the Christian Comic Arts Society.