Posted - 01/22/2010 : 12:58:31 PM
Interview with: Don Smith
Comic Books: Faith Series: Jesus Christ
Publisher: Bluewater Comics
Interviewed by: Allen Klingelhoets
Allen: I want to state clearly that I have interviewed Don Smith twice* in last couple of months. I like to give new people a chance to have interviews posted at Jazma. I felt I needed to change my thoughts when I heard about his new writing project. It is good to have you back at Jazma, Don.
I am really excited about your new project. How did you get involved with writing a story about Jesus Christ?
Don Smith: Hey, Allen, Jazma has been amazing for me personally. I really have appreciated what you guys have done! Thanks so much for this.
Basically, I got involved with writing a story about the life of Jesus Christ through just a random conversation I had with Darren Davis, the publisher of Bluewater Comics.
And when the opportunity came up, how in the world could I say no to it?
Allen: This issue is arriving in stores in April 2010. Was the story planned to come out in time for Easter?
Don Smith: Oh yeah. Frankly, it makes a great "Easter-basket-stuffer" and I thought it was a great idea and it made sense. Waiting for Christmas 2010 would be too long to wait.
Allen: I have seen several different Jesus stories in graphic novel format. Who came up with the idea to do a Bluewater Productions story about Jesus Christ?
Don Smith: It was Darren's idea. As much as Jesus Christ was different from anyone who ever lived in history, the comic is actually an extension of the "Female Force" and "Political Power" series.
There is a market for bio-comics, and it is just a matter picking the right person to write about. And, frankly, Jesus Christ is the best person.
Allen: It must have been very hard to decide what to put into the Jesus Christ story. It seems that it would be limited by the amount of pages in a Bluewater comic book and it seems it would be hard to delve deeply into Jesus Christ’s life.
How many pages do you have to work with in story?
Don Smith: It was hard picking and choosing what to put in. I only had a script of 24-pages to work with, but I believe I was able to tell a compelling story with it.
Allen: Tell me about some of the research that you went through in the writing of the Jesus Christ story. A few examples would be the Bible, movies or possible help from priests. Or did you do research on Internet? Also, touch on some of your religious background.
Don Smith: Actually, I did the research all from memory. One of the other reasons I was asked to write "Faith Series: Jesus Christ" was because I grew up in a Christian home, attended church almost every Sunday, attended a Christian elementary school and high school, attended a Christian college and I still attend church on a weekly basis (sort of).
But most of what I wanted to put into this comic had been aspects of the life of Christ I appreciated and learned about as I grew up.
Allen: What humbled you about writing the Jesus Christ comic?
Don Smith: Simply, the fact I was getting to show the comic book industry the Jesus Christ I knew. To me, Jesus was never some Charlton Heston-like figure pointing his finger at people saying, "You're bad! Not you!"
Instead, the Jesus Christ I know cries at funerals, keeps a party going with better wine, and grieves with people when they grieve and laughs with people when they laugh.
And to be able to show that to the comic book world, and the rest of the world for that matter, is quite, quite humbling.
Allen: Have you ever visited Nazareth or any areas of The Holy Land?
Don Smith: No I have not. One day I'd like too. It would appeal to both the Christian and history-buff in me to see where Jesus walked and to see the geography the Disciples saw, so one day. Who knows?
Allen: When did you start the script for the Jesus Christ comic? How long did it take for you to finish the script? What will be the name of the interior story?
Don Smith: I started the script in November 2009 and I finished sometime after that, I forget, but it took me about a week to get it on paper and another few days to play with it and have some people double check it for spelling and the like.
As for the name of the interior story, basically the comic will be called "Faith Series: Jesus Christ."
Allen: I noticed in Bluewater Productions April 2010 solicitation press release that no artist had yet been chosen. I personally would love to see Sherwin Schwartzrock be the artist for the Jesus Christ story.
Who would you like to see as the artist for the Jesus Christ story?
Don Smith: I don't know if I can say his name, but we do have an artist on it. I will let Darren say who it is.
But let me say this, I have seen this guy's work and he is good. I mean real, real good. I have been impressed with him and I would love to work with this guy again.
As for Sherwin Schwartzrock, I had been unfamiliar with his work before this interview. However, I did a Google search and I found his link: schwartzrock.blogspot.com and I am impressed with it.
But we already have a very good artist already on "Faith Series: Jesus Christ." Though I'd love to see what Mr. Schwartzrock would do in the future.
Allen: Do you know if there will be an influential person doing the forward? Will there be more than one version of the Jesus Christ story? I mean a regular and collector edition.
Don Smith: Regarding the forward, I would say no. I don't know how much room there will be in the comic for it, and I doubt there would be room for it.
As for different versions, I think that would have to up to Darren as to him doing a "regular" and "collector" edition. I'd be up for it, but it all falls on his shoulders.
Allen: Whose eyes will the Jesus Christ story be told through? Will you be the narrator or will another person narrate? I am curious if you will be drawn into the story as the narrator.
Don Smith: Basically, I told the story of Christ from my point-of-view. I had done the "Narrator as a character" concept in my comics "Political Power: Ronald Reagan" and "Political Power: Rush Limbaugh"* so having an omnsicient (no pun intended) narrator was better for the story.
I mean Jesus did not need me walking around the comic narrating his story, like the Reagan one did. So I liked how it turned out.
Allen: What kind of reading level will the Jesus Christ story contain?
Don Smith: I wrote the story for anyone at a pretty functional reading level (so anyone who read "Twilight" can read this. Ha!).
Allen: Did you need any special permission to write story about Jesus of Nazareth?
Don Smith: Not really, no. Pretty much you can do a comic on anyone and on any subject matter.
Allen: What is your ultimate hope for the Jesus Christ story?
Don Smith: At the risk of alienating anyone, my hope with this comic is to show people the Jesus Christ I have come to know. Simply, Jesus Christ was the greatest man to walk the planet, but, as I quote John 1:1 regularly, Jesus was God in human form.
Simply, sin separated humanity from a God who loves them so much. And He, more than anything, desired to be reunited with humanity so He sent Jesus, His only Son, to be the bridge between mankind and God and die for the sins of humanity to reunite us with God.
And that is such an amazing love story, I want readers to see that.
At the risk of further alienating people, I wanted to show people another perspective of Jesus Christ, not the perspective of the stupid things people have done in the name of God or Jesus. Such as the recent Catholic priest issues; men in terrible hairstyles asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars and in return the viewer gets a laughable prayer cloth or bottle of "holy water"; or even the neighbor who enjoys just showing how much better of a person they are compared to you.
I wanted people to see that the Jesus I know, is none of that.
Allen: Do you envision your comic book in churches? What is the expected reading audience?
Don Smith: I do hope churches will look at this book and see it, like the "Female Force" and "Political Power" series, that it is a Cliff Notes on the life of Christ. People will read it and want to study the life of Christ further.
As I wrote this, I expected anyone to pick it up. Whether they be Born Again Christians, skeptics, Lesbian wiccans who follow "The Wheel of Time," I wanted to write this for them.
Allen: Will this be a limited edition print run just for Easter?
Don Smith: That I am not sure, it may not be a bad idea, but I think we just want to print up the comic and send it on to as many people who want to read it.
Allen: Bluewater Productions has had some rather interesting subject choices. I have enjoyed doing interviews about “Female Force”, “Political Power”, “Puppy Power” and now a comic about Jesus Christ.
I like seeing this company taking risks with biographical comics. Do you envision yourself writing more religious stories?
Don Smith: Yeah they have taken a lot of risks and Darren has had his tail handed to him in reviews and comments in message boards and Darren just shrugs and goes, "And?" I think that is cool.
But, I would be up for some more religious stories, if Bluewater wanted that. Frankly, I'd love to dig into Joseph, David, Elijah, Elisha or Gideon or heroes like that.
But that is up to Darren. If there is a market for the Jesus comic, who knows?
Allen: What would you do if really positive feelings came from church leaders? What kind of media tour is planned to go with the publication of the Jesus Christ comic?
Don Smith: Of course, I would love it if really positive feelings came from church leaders, but if they do, they do. If they don't, they don't. I will still be writing comic books and I will still be continuing going to church and reaching out to the God who I know loves me.
I just re-read my statement and it sounded cheesey, but it is the truth.
As for a media tour, nothing has been planned as of now, but I will go where I am sent and I will send e-mails to friends who I know with radio shows on the internet and anywhere else people will have me.
Allen: What is best way to get the Jesus Christ comic?
Don Smith: I do believe people will be able to get it through Amazon.com or through your local comic books retailer, but it is not out yet. When it does come out, I will let you know!
Allen: Do feel that Mike S. Miller did a noble job with cover for Jesus Christ comic? Does his cover match feeling that you attempted to tell with story?
Don Smith: Actually, I really liked the cover alot and to have someone like Mike S. Miller who has worked for Marvel and DC Comics is an honor for me.
I am thrilled, because he really does catch the spirit of what it was that I was trying to write.
Allen: What is best way to contact you?
Don Smith: People can contact me through my blog at donsmith74.wordpress.com.
Allen: What are some of your favorite Jesus related movies?
Don Smith: You know that is a tough one. Everytime I see Jesus in a movie I always think it misses something so I do not have many "Jesus" movies I point back too and say, "This is the one."
Even "The Passion of the Christ" was two hours of Jim Caviezel getting the crap kicked out of him.
Allen: I better let you get back to work. I think we covered lots of other personal details in our past two interviews. I expect we will be talking again. What would you like to say to readers? What are your closing thoughts about the Jesus Christ comic?
Don Smith: If you don't buy it, God will punish you.
I am so kidding with that one!
Seriously, as I have said, I want people to see the loving Jesus I know and to understand why God came down in human form and endured humanity, pain and suffering, all out of love.
That to me is the most amazing story ever told.
And for one brief moment, I get to tell the story from my point of view and that is really, really cool.
*Allen: Quick final note. Don Smith is also putting out Political Power: Rush Limbaugh comic. I encourage readers to pick up comic arriving in stores in April. It is also published by Bluewater Productions. I noticed this little after completed interview with Don Smith.
Don's two other interviews with me.
Political Power: Ronald Reagan
He worked with me on S.E. Hinton Signature Series comic called S.E. Hinton Presents: The Puppy Sister
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