Tag Archives: Christian entertainment

Kickstarter reflection (or, part 4)

Did you miss me? I missed me. As I tell my students and writers conference attendees, there’s no real good reason for not writing. And while I don’t really consider this blog my “writing,” it is part of my writing process, something which helps keep my creative juices going.

Well, that…and reading. Reading a lot.

But it seems one thing or another has kept me from writing here. One of those things, I think, was wrapping up the Kickstarter segments. For pure transparency, I was a bit bummed we didn’t make it…and then afterwards, Joe had to move on to other projects, which effectively kills Citizens as is. That said, I DO have good news on other projects fronts, and I hope to be talking about two of them very soon!

But even though I finished the posts, I wanted to actually reflect a little on the campaign.

One of the telling things about running a Kickstarter campaign is that it becomes very clear where the “support” comes from. While you can get anonymous donors (I had a couple), most support and then get on board to help the campaigners get the word out. The supporters of Citizens did just that. There were some who I felt went above and beyond trying to help me and Joe make our goal—I saw multiple posts from them telling people to go check it out. Of course, I’m incredibly thankful for those people!

I think the biggest surprise to me from the entire thing was the overwhelming lack of support from the Christian community. Most of you here know that about me. I don’t blog a lot about my faith…I try to live it more than talk about it—though sometimes I do. Of course, you know too, that I fail a lot on “being” a Christian. I guess that’s just part of my path. But after my “religious conversion,” I tried to immerse myself in the “Christian creative community.” As a new believer, I wanted to be a part of it. I bought books, comics, movies, and music that I didn’t know existed. Most of it really bad, but I wanted to support it so that I could see it improve. Sad to learn it’s a one way street.

Will I do another kickstarter? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I will. In fact, I’m already thinking of them. One KEY factor is that the art is going to have to be mostly done so that the delivery date is closer. That, and I’m going to push harder for earlier pledges. So if you pledged to Citizens, I’ll be coming to you again asking you to support the next one. If the project looks interesting to you, I’ll ask that you pledge early–because it helps generate heat on the KS campaign.

Okay…now back to writing…and grading. Lots of grading.

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Leaper by Geoffrey Wood

When one parent goes out of town, kids can be very sneaky! BJ left to go out of town this morning, and so I—fighting a big sinus headache—hopped back in bed with the intention of sleeping another hour or two and thus getting up around 9-9:30.

I woke up at 11:55 to the sounds of clanking in the kitchen. The bedroom door had been closed by the kids and thus they’d had the run of the house all morning long. Thankfully we don’t have cable/satellite tv OR free access internet. Not that I think my kids would do that, but at least it removes the temptation!

So, the blog entry I planned to write mid-morning is being finished up mid-afternoon! Sneaky kids!

Leaper by Geoffrey Wood

Leaper by Geoffrey Wood

I’m not sure how many more “Christian” books I’m going to review here, very publicly, on my blog. Why, you ask? Well, while I wouldn’t be considered a rookie in the comic book industry, I’m very much a rookie in any Christian publishing industry. If I don’t like something and post it here, I may either make someone mad or hurt feelings…and that just wouldn’t be good. Though a rookie I may be, I don’t want to make rookie mistakes…at least not very many of them. I’ve already read a handful of Christian books that I just couldn’t review here simply because I could find very little nice to say about the work (please note—I said “work” and not author!). I’ve already discovered that some writers search the internet for reviews as the author of one emailed me thanking me for the review. I had to run to the review and see what I’d said before I responded. Made me a little nervous!

That said, I quickly picked up and read Leaper when I learned a “Christian superhero” book existed (thanks, Rene!). It worked its way to the very top of my list and I quickly devoured it. Penned by Memphian (meaning, not far from where “I” live!) Geoffrey Wood, Leaper tells the story of one troubled dude who gets the power to teleport through space, kinda like the X-Men’s Nightcrawler.

Leaper is a very fast and easy read. Written in First Person (see Monday’s blog), we move through the three days in the life of James, the main character. And, a character who has so many problems it’s comical. In fact, much of the book is really funny. The whole problem with it is—that it has a very depressing ending. I’m not just talking about surprising—it wasn’t a huge, come out of nowhere kind of ending. In fact, it was pretty predictable from about the halfway point in the book (no, I’m not gonna get a page number from where I knew!). I saw it coming, but like a car accident, I couldn’t stop watching. I wanted James to make better decisions…but he never did. Reminds me a lot of the protagonist in Twilight who continually made bad decisions.

I’m not sure if characters making bad decisions is a new trend, or if I’m just picking up those books. But I’ve always thought that the characters we fall in love with are those who make good decisions, yet things go wrong. No matter how hard they try, something messes up. Spider-Man being a prime example.

For those of you who like superhero books but might be put off by religion or religious elements—this book is still very readable for you. The “Christian” elements are presented in the kind of way that I think many Christian writers ought to aspire: they weren’t knock-you-over-the-head-preachy. Instead, there were solid Christian characters living normal lives like most Christians “I” know.

Depressing ending aside, I’d recommend this book for fans of superhero literature.

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Me & You, Us, Forever–Review

I don’t normally review movies and not sure that I want to go there, but this movie struck a chord with me, especially based on some of the recent conversations I’ve had with some folks…more on that in a minute.

Me & You, Us, Forever is a film made by the Christiano brothers. Prior to this movie, I didn’t really know “who” they were. After doing a little research before writing this, I found a website and discovered that they’ve made a whole handful of films, one of which I liked…and I wanted to like this one…

Me & You, Us, Forever is about a divorced man who pines for a long lost high school sweetheart. He chalks her up at the best thing to ever happen to him and is determined to meet her again after 25 years. He meets a divorced lady-friend at a divorcee-recovery class and the two become friends.

meyouusforeverMYUF suffers from what I would call the classic sappy Christian entertainment issue. The technical aspect of the filmmaking is actually pretty good. I’m sure someone with a more highly trained technical eye could point out some things, but it had pretty good camera movement and most of the shots seem pretty good.

The script, however, needed a lot of revision. I think this is part of the problem when one person does the entire shebang…just too close to it. The first 45 minutes could have (and should have) been condensed to about 10-15 minutes. It got to be so sappy I was laughing at it—and that was not what I should have been doing. The main character breaks into flashback every 3-4 minutes and it gets very annoying. In fact, his obsession with his old high school love borders on a little bit scary and creepy.

Then, when the guy finally goes to see her, she doesn’t act surprised in the least little bit. It didn’t come off as realistic. In fact, several of the actors seemed to be reciting lines rather than playing parts. They may be fine actors, and it would be interesting to see what they could do with a better script…alas, they didn’t have it to work with here.

The message behind the film is a good one: divorcees having a difficult time recovering and how they should let God take control. Good message, but poor delivery.

And that brings me to the “conversations” I mentioned above. In general, Christian entertainment has the huge “sappy” hurdle to overcome. In the last 20 years, we’ve seen Christian music grow by leaps and bounds and believers can find just about any flavor song out there—and good ones, too. In the last few years, Christian films like Facing the Giants, One Night With the King, Left Behind and Fireproof, have really stepped up a notch. The Mormons have been getting it right for a few years, too.

Writing and, of course, comic books—obviously my interests—still have a way to go. My primary issue with most Christian comics is either that they are poorly written or poorly illustrated. This is not a slam at the creators—some of whom I’ve met—they have the best of intentions. I’m just not convinced writing or art is where their ministry should be. The problem then becomes, when the work is put side by side with like secular material, it just doesn’t hold up. And then some of the Christian creators I’ve talked to don’t want to do “Christian” work either because they’re afraid of the label or they don’t want to be lumped with the other material. Often, they opt to call it “family friendly” instead.

What I am encouraged about, however, is the fact that all the entertainment fields I mentioned: film, books and comics, actually seem to be working hard to improve not just the quantity, but the quality. This, I think, is a good thing.

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