Why comics and comic books are important today!

COMICS ARE BOOMING! DC Comics is so confident about the future of super heroes that the publishing house has completely redesigned and relaunched 52 of its comic book series as THE NEW 52. (Click on the image above to visit an Amazon page for a one-volume collection containing all of the New 52 debut issues.)

Comics Are Booming

COMICS are a global sensation these days.
The easiest way to see their popularity is to check the current list of Top 20 U.S. Movies of All Time (a ranking of U.S. feature films based on total boxoffice revenues). Numbers 1 and 2 on the list are the fantasy film Avatar and then Titanic. But 9 of the Top 20 films are comic book or cartoon movies, including Batman, Spider-man, the Lion King and Shrek. The rest of the Top 20 list is dominated by fantasies, including Harry Potter, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings—all of which owe a huge debt to the past century of comics.

In a global media marketplace, comics speak an international language, says independent comic creator Kurt Kolka: “As humans, we need the spark of adventure in our lives. Wherever we live around the world, we share a hope that we can explore and find some meaning in our lives. As we live and grow, we all face challenges we have to conquer, and I’m not talking about physical conquests. We face many kinds of challenges in life. Comic stories from the adventures of Tin Tin to the most powerful super heroes are invitations to explore the world and to conquer both our limitations and our fears. That’s why comics continue to be so popular and why they have crossed over so successfully into movies.”

WHO IS KURT KOLKA? For more than two decades, he has been an independent comic artist and author—and he has been especially important in helping to connect with independent comic artists who highlight spiritual values in their work. Kurt is Christian and has worked with the many other independent producers of Christian comics to raise awareness of their work. More broadly, he is a full-time newspaper journalist at the Gaylord Herald Times in northern Michigan. Like the journalists who founded readthespirit.com six years ago, Kurt’s comics reflects common religious values shared by all major faiths—like compassion for the poor and vulnerable. Kurt also is a nationally known advocate for preserving classic newspaper comics.

Since 1990, Kurt Kolka’s super hero has been The Cardinal, an 18-year-old college student named Rich Benton who has been given the super power of flight and a talent for acrobatic martial arts. Although the Cardinal is a super hero, able to cruise through the air at will—Kurt did not make him super-strong nor is the Cardinal impervious to injury. These are choices Kurt made so that Rich Benton, as the Cardinal, must wrestle with his human fears and spiritual values on a daily basis like the rest of us. Kurt Kolka’s current Cardinal story is a suspenseful tale about a strange serial killer who is attacking poor women and is baffling local police. The first 15 weekly pages already are posted at Go Comics: Here is Part 1 in the tale. In November, as this story unfolded, Kurt used this Cardinal page to highlight national Homelessness Awareness Week. The gripping story continues this month. (If you start at Part 1 of the saga, arrows in the upper-right corner move readers through the parts).


COMING IN 2013: Stay tuned for an unprecedented comic event in 2013 as Kurt Kolka is organizing dozens of the nation’s top comic creators to produce a collection of short stories about overcoming the problem of bullying faced by millions of young people. The book opens with an entire, full-color Cardinal adventure—then showcases many of your comic favorites in short “story starters,” comic strips and comic panels that will get kids talking about the everday challenges they see with bullying.

This new comic book is aimed at young readers, parents, educators and community leaders—everyone who enjoys a great comic tale and who wants to reduce bullying. It follows the success of our 2012 book, produced with the Michigan State University School of Journalism, called The New Bullying. That 2012 book explains the current problem of bullying to adult readers. In spring 2013, the new comic book will be a perfect choice for young readers, classes and small groups. (Want to be on a list of people we alert as soon as the comic is released? Email us at [email protected])

Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

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