DC Comics said it would re-launch the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott) as a gay man in the "Earth 2" series. But DC Comics isn't the first to cause a stir. At the same time President Obama made clear his support of gay marriage in early May, Marvel Comics and Archie Comics caused heated debate as they revealed plans for superhero gay couples to be married in gay weddings.
Whether comic book companies are simply looking to make money on "the whole gay theme" or doing their best to reflect popular culture, remains to be seen, according to Art Ayris, CEO and president of Kingstone Media. What Ayris is certain of is that comic books, graphic novels and other ventures his company produces will not follow suit.
"It is more frontal assault on impressionable kids who are trying to figure it all out," said Ayris, who is also the executive pastor of First Baptist Church in Leesburg, Fla.
Since it began production in 2010, Ayris' company has released more than 20 faith-based comics and 10 graphic novels in digital and print formats. Its "Book of God" just opened in Sam's Club's top 400 stores, and many of its releases are already on shelves in Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and in Christian bookstores.
While the comic book developer said the announcements by Marvel and DC didn't really surprise him, Ayris said the news that Archie Comics had written gay characters into the pages of "good, old wholesome Archie ... rocks me on my heels a little bit."
Kingstone, he said, pledges to be different.
"If Kingstone is the only comic book company in America doing it, we will stand for the things God says are godly and stand against things that clearly fall under the category of sin," Ayris said. "Content will always be biblical worldview. Period."
Different does not mean dull, however. Kingstone comics are glossy, colorful and sometimes even edgy -- without going over the top. They have been featured in Publisher's Weekly and are produced by top-notch artists, and writers and editors of "concrete-solid faith."
As long as his "heart is beating," Ayris said, no such thing will happen to a Kingstone character.
"If our evangelical forebears 50 years ago would have seen the power of media, I think now we could have had a studio and media corporation that would rival any of the major studios," Ayris said. "People of faith have got to come to terms how penetratingly persuasive media is. If we band together we'll be a strong force. If we splinter and argue, we'll lose the war. We feel called to build God's comic company and engage in that arena."
For more information on Kingstone Media, visit www.kingstonecomics.com.
Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, online at www.GoFBW.com.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net