For sometime, my group of friends and I have been pursuing an avenue to put faith based comic books on the open secular market. It was our desire to create an alternative that is just as fun and exciting as most non-Christian titles, but ultimately to have a message of hope that would influence the heart of the reader. Somewhere down the line, our pursuit became a vision, our vision became a passion, and ultimately, our passion became an obsession. About six months ago we realized this and we had to take a step back and ask ourselves a very important question, "Why are we doing this?" We had no conclusive answer. The obvious answer was to be a witness, but it wasn't completely true. The next thought was, to create an alternative or an option to modern comics. Yet again, not fully true. Fact is, we had lost the very reason for our motivation; which explains why we were feeling lost and unaccomplished.
My best friend and writer made a simple comment that began to pull things back into perspective for us. He simply said, "I enjoy writing." It made sense. We do it because we enjoy it. I enjoy drawing. Others enjoy coloring. It just seemed to add up. But then I felt a little guilty. You see, I had lost my joy in doing what I was doing. When my passion crossed the line into obsession it became a thing I "had" to do, not just something I wanted to do. I can't speak for everyone, but this made a big difference in my productivity and in the degree of my artwork. It became a struggle to draw. It became cumbersome to pick up the pencil and get to work on projects. Many projects were started, none were finished. Years rolled by and I was no closer to my goals than when I started. I made excuses for my short comings. Most were to blame outside events for taking me away from my work. My circumstances kept me from pursuing my passion (or so I claimed). Bottomline is simple, I wasn't happy.
When I realized this, I had a battle ahead of me; restoring my joy. Joy comes from love and without love, you cannot have true joy. I loved to draw, but when drawing became "a mission from God" rather than something I simply enjoyed doing, it overwhelmed me. I felt that because I was a Christian, I had to use my talents to witness and to testify of God's goodnes and teach others how they could be saved. From that point on, everything I did was inadequate. My art wasn't good enough, the story wasn't profound enough, the testimony was either lost or just too direct and strong. How could I possibly do what I was supposed to do and get the comic books to sell on a national secular level. It seemed impossible, and so that's what it became; impossible.
In three years, we have not finished a single comic book. Nothing was right. The studio and the vision became chaotic. What started strong, slipped into vanity and then contempt and finally into apathy. So finally, I began to pray. Imagine that; prayer actually worked. God began to help me realize that it wasn't my job to change people's lives. Its not my calling to create a story so insightful and impacting that people fall on their faces and turn their lives over just after reading my book. It wasn't my place to strive to be better than anyone else. I was not a righteous judge and I was judging myself and my work too harshly. God said simply this, "return to your joy". Four small words that reinvented not only myself but also my vision. I realize now that if I am obediant to Him and use the talents that he has given me to express my own joy, He will use it to reach others. I can't do His job. I am a tool, a vessel. God has given me a gift and the opportunity to use it. My job is to simply allow my joy to build and flow. It doesn't matter if everyone likes it. It doesn't matter if anyone reads it or is changed by it. That's no longer my concern. Drawing comic books ministers to me. It keeps joy in my life and it allows me to express myself and illustrate some really cool stories. It's fun and it's what I love to do. I draw comic books because God uses them to change me. If others are changed by them as well...
Well, that would be a bonus.
Love God, Love life, love what you do. Let God take care of the details.
G. David Cooper