In a recent message on Facebook, I received a question, very respectfully, as to whether the type of work I do, that being creating monsters and various types of fantasy, sci fi, comic and horror art, bore any conflict with my faith as a Christian. After typing up my reply, I decided that I would like to share the body of it here on our site in the event anyone else may have a question along these lines. It’s a subject I have no problem talking about and actually enjoy a healthy discussion on as I feel it opens a beneficial dialogue for folks with and without or of differing faiths. What follows is taken from that reply and is a general statement on the subject.
…As for my faith and what I make possibly having a conflict? It’s an easy answer for me, but complicated and uncomfortable for a lot of others who claim the same faith I do, but I’ll try to break it down as succinctly as possible.
Obviously, since I make what I make, it doesn’t represent any conflict for me personally, and in fact is part and parcel of what I believe. Let me explain. At the heart of my faith is this very simple yet very elegant concept of good and evil, right and wrong, creation and destruction, law and chaos. God, as I understand Him and believe, being the Creator of all, created a reality into which He placed perceptive, imaginative beings who were gifted with free will, i.e. us. He gives us the ability then to choose not only how we’ll behave, but whether or not we’ll even acknowledge Him in some way. Choosing to do so brings with it a whole string of logic regarding how we conduct ourselves toward other people. As someone who deeply believes in God, I find that I must respect and care for others while honoring my Creator. The way the work that I do fits into that is in the form of stories, both that come from my imagination and that others create using the tools I provide for them in the form of often times monstrous content.
See, while I believe that God did create all things to be essentially “good” and, to use a sort of Christian-speak term, fellowship with Him, it stands to reason that thinking beings can only truly be “good” when they have a choice in the matter, otherwise they’re just automatons that really would provide no more “fellowship” than a rock. In that lies the essence, I believe, of the stories human beings have created for as long as we have existed. No matter whether it’s a story where the bad guy wins and everything has a horrible outcome, or one where good triumphs and everyone lives happily ever after, the conflict of good and evil is inherent to the human experience because we were made with the ability to recognize and choose one or the other, and in fact, we exist in a constant struggle between those choices. Yes, I make monsters. In fact, the horror genre is where I’m most satisfied. The reason for this is that more often than not it seems to me that the greatest depiction of good can only come from seemingly insurmountable evil. In my faith, “sin”, i.e. the human tendency to act selfishly thus to whatever degree “evil” is that monster and was defeated through the sacrifice, resurrection and forgiveness of Christ. He is the ultimate hero, defeating the absolute ultimate evil. Still, it’s hard to embody that in a way that people can really wrap our heads around, and I believe that the evil, the villains, the monsters in the stories the human imagination can come up with are our interpretations and reflections of that deeper truth. What this then means for me as an artist is that when I create something dark, menacing, horrific and yes, evil, at it’s heart is that it is there to represent the comparison and contrast that then let’s us see and imagine the hero, i.e. the good which defeats it.
Now, I do have my boundaries. Though sometimes, for a variety of artistic reasons I might have a creation that is anatomically correct, you’ll notice that very, very rarely is that a feature of my monsters. The reason is that I personally am uncomfortable with using my art to depict outright sexual aggression or horror these days. Granted, in my earlier years, before finding faith in God, that was not something that concerned me much, but as I’ve matured and grown in faith, I’ve found that to be an area that I’m just not comfortable with, so in that my faith does present some boundaries. But for the most part, I create what I create because every creature I come up with tends to either have a story of it’s own that is a reflection of the struggle between good and evil as I understand it, or it is meant to inspire others to think and create art and stories of their own that explore good and evil for themselves. In my own life, it was that exploration that helped lead me to a series of questions and studies that eventually resulted in my faith in Jesus Christ. I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes it’s the excitement of a well crafted monster that might spur someone to consider good and evil in a way perhaps they hadn’t before, and it is that exact consideration which I think can help people, in some odd way, find a faith of their own. And for folks who just want to enjoy the crazy critters, well, at least it has that value for them and maybe gives them that little escape for a moment from a very crazy world that I think we all need sometimes. The fact that the person who created them would wish the peace and comfort I find in my faith for each of them is, at least to me, a nice bonus. I know a lot of atheists in the world of art/entertainment which I work in who just don’t get it. That’s ok. They don’t have to. Nothing in my work shoves my faith down their throats, and not only is it never meant to, but doing so would be directly counter to many of the principles I hold dear. But in providing work that may hold value for non-believers and believers alike that still reflects what I believe to be important conflicts and truths of this life, I hope that folks who both believe as I do or those who do not can still appreciate the work itself, it’s intentions and find enjoyment in it.
So there it is, in it’s broad strokes. For the record, I do tend to not say much about my religious or political views overtly in the context of my business out of respect for those I do business with. Part of what I learn from my faith is how to better my interactions with others by honoring the concept that it is God’s place to judge, not mine. Obviously the entire subject is much deeper and more personal than can be fully summed up in the context of one simple post or reply, but I think this gets the point across fairly well. There are a great many stereotypes about Christians which I myself used to buy into until the point when I found myself looking at things from some different perspectives and having to really think through a lot about myself, what I believed and how I wanted to live. One of the things I hope folks who may have never thought about, or thought well of Christians can take from this is that, just like most groups of people, we’re not so easy to fit into a simple box of preconceptions. Sure, there are Christians out there who perpetuate those caricatures of what I believe on their own, doing a massive disservice to the rest of us, but hopefully in being forthright about what I feel and believe, it might invite some folks to put aside those prejudices to one degree or another and perhaps try a little more to be understanding and just plain good to each other. Isn’t that part of the point anyway?
Fun. Who knows where this is going… hmmmm.
Looking back on my career as an artist, I find it incredibly appropriate and satisfying to be up to my eyeballs in comic book and graphic novel work again. Twenty years ago, that’s where I began, doing indy comics and hoping to make a career out of it. Two decades and a really bizarre road of art jobs that began with and have paralleled the whole “digital” revolution caused me to pick up skills in a lot of interesting disciplines, but all those roads consistently lead back to the funny pages. I like that. My friend, Bill Nichols, who helped get a cocky 19yr old me pointed in the right direction is now on board to help write Apocalypse Girl. If you haven’t seen the teaser chapter on our site, go there and read it now. You won’t be disappointed…. I hope. After shelving it for some time, I’m nearly finished with colors and dialogue on the 15 page teaser chapter for our other in-house comic project, “The Sons of Perdition”. Then there’s all the bleeding edge stuff we’re pumping out for the folks with Anomaly Productions, doing augmented reality animations that supplement their gigantic graphic novels. Last but most certainly not least, preliminary work has begun on a wholly new incarnation of Dominator, the brain child of my good friend Tony Luke and legendary comics writer Alan Grant.
Add to that continuing to produce 3D content for our ever expanding online catalogs, supported so graciously by many users of Poser and Daz Studio out there, as well as putting plans together to finally get Sixus1 Media showing in at least a few of my favorite midwest and southeast comic book conventions next year and it’s pretty safe to say we are busy, busy, busy.
Stick around folks. We have some really cool stuff coming together…. will be showing some peaks here and there soon. -Les
10 Poses & 14 Utility Poses
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12 Poses & 6 Utility Poses
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