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Artist uses gift to reach out to comic book readers

   
 


Steven Reece Friesen speaks to youth at Mennonite Church USA convention.

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Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Publishing Joint Release
September 17, 2009
-John Longhurst

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The gospel, we are told, is supposed to be shared with every people group. But does that include comic book readers?

For Canadian Steven Reece Friesen, the answer is yes. “They’re a people group,” he told a packed-out youth seminar titled “Pax Avalon: Can art change the way we think?” at Columbus, 2009, the annual convention for Mennonite Church USA.

But, he stated, if you are going to reach comic book readers, you have to learn how they talk. “Just like with any other people group, you need to learn their language if you are going to reach them,” he said.

That’s why he created Pax Avalon, a new kind of graphic novel that shows how conflict can be resolved peacefully.

Along with speaking their language, comic books have to be good to reach that group. “If the artwork sucks, forget it,” he said, adding that a well-done comic or graphic novel can be a witness. Pax Avalon introduces readers to the idea that the hero “doesn’t always have to punch someone in the face.”

Friesen’s interest in comic books arose out of a childhood passion for the genre. “I loved the idea of powers and myth,” he said, noting that C.S. Lewis and Tolkien were among his favourite authors. But, he added, “I didn’t like the violence or the sexual exploitation of women” in comic books.

At first, he prayed for God to take his interest in comic books away. Later, he grew to believe that if “God gave me this ability and passion,” he should use it.

He went on to encourage the youth in the room to follow their passion, whatever it might be. “Whatever you feel passionate about, God can use it,” he said.

He praised Mennonite Publishing Network for having the “courage” to publish Pax Avalon, noting that the only other Christian comic book series on the market finds the hero blowing up and killing his enemies.

Steven Reece Friesen’s graphic story, “Tales of Avalon City,” was featured in Canadian Mennonite in 2008. (Volume 12, issues 13, 14, and 16.) You can find these issues online under “Past Issues” at canadianmennonite.org.