(PHOTO: Kingstone Facebook)
Kingstone Comics is taking evangelism to a whole other level by producing high-quality God-inspired Christian comic books that can rival the likes of Marvel and DC.
The Christian Post had the opportunity to chat with Kingstone Media CEO Pastor Art Ayris on his ministry's vision for the future and the current state of comic books.
Ayris said the comic book industry in the U.S. is a half a billion dollar industry, while in places like Japan or France, comics have accounted for over five billion dollars in sales.
"Overseas comics are just so much bigger than they really are here," he said.
With a much smaller sampling of sales in the U.S., it is important to stand out among the rest, and with cash cows such as Marvel and DC, the competition is very tough.
Ayris takes pride in Kingstone Comics, as he has assembled some of the best writers and artists in comics to be a part of this ministry.
"One of the key things is quality of content both from an artistic level and both from a theological level. Almost all of our artists have worked with Marvel or DC. Our goal was to put a Kingstone comic next to a Marvel comic and nobody would know the difference," he said.
They also just released a comic by New York Times best selling author and Christian apologist Randy Alcorn called Eternity.
Ayris says Kingstone Comics range from Biblical stories to apologetics and even stories of faith. They have several fictional comics as well.
"We do the Bible comics and apologetics. Apologetics is our strongest seller," he said.
The Book of God explains to people how the process of creating and crafting the Bible to God's specification came to be. 101 Questions About the Bible and Christianity answers the toughest of all inquiries about the scriptures in an easily understood way.
Because Kingstone converts Christianity to something visual and easy to read, Ayris says non-believers and even people of the Muslim faith are fans of the comic. He says comics are a format that everyone knows and trusts. It is straightforward, and people can make their own judgments without feeling like they are tricked into believing something.
"It's a safe format for people. It's a comfortable format. People like to look at pictures because it's aesthetically pleasing," he said. "Comic books are very transcultural. It's a media people may find more comfortable investigating Christianity and the Bible. It might seem a little dominating for someone to pick up a two inch thick Bible and try to begin to understand it. I feel like the comics to me are a portal to the stories of the Bible."
Another group who love reading these Christian comics are people in prison and troubled youth.
Ayris said a prison ministry wanted every issue of the comics to distribute to the incarcerated men. He then shared a story of a ministry worker who told him a young man in a juvenile detention center became saved after reading some one of the graphic novels.
"Comics is a great way to help boys get into reading because they don't like it. Also, for people who can't read, having stories in the Bible like this help them to grasp it better," Ayris said.
Perhaps the best testament Kingstone has going for them is respect in the comic world.
"There's a little more license and tolerance in the artistic world. People respect us because they know who the artist is on the project," he said, explaining that they were even at ComicCon. "We have pretty good acceptance in the comic medium. In the media world they are tolerating us."
"It helps us because there's a legitimacy," Ayris said, referring to his former Marvel and DC artists.
Ayris said he enjoys doing events where he can challenge the churches to set up two tables.
"Have a Bible and literature on one table, comics and graphic novels on the other and see where the kids go," he said. "Making the gospel of Jesus Christ attractive in every way."
Ayris said the biggest news for Kingstone Comics is the Kingstone Bible.
"The big thing we are working on is the Kingstone Bible, which as far as we know is the most complete graphic adaptation of the Bible ever done. It will be the Bible in 12 volumes," he said explaining that it will be over 2,000 pages of scripture, dialogue, and storyline with bigger Bible stories getting more panels. "Everything is in there."
Kingstone Comics are also now available on ComiXology, the largest digital distributor of comics in the world. They are in the faith-based content section as of July and are now getting a ton of exposure as the site always ranks among the top in apps used.
A few of the staff including Ayris were chosen to participate in the American Bible Challenge. They find out in October if they are 100 percent on the show.
Ayris said they also signed a deal to create a graphic novel for Sony's new rapture movie, "The Remaining."
Their biggest sellers are Jonah and The Revelation so far.
Some other titles in their line are: Samson, Moses, King David, Martyrs, Esther, and The Pilgrims Progress, among others.
Kingstone Comics are just as affordable as regular comics. Comics are $3.99 and graphic novels are anywhere from $12.99-$16.99. There is a standing discount to churches at 20 percent. If they order in bulk, or if it is a prison or ministry, they get a 50 percent discount.
"We want to get the word out to people," Ayris said.