I was just wondering how to deal with controversies and negative reviews when they come. I belong to a writer's critique(I write poetry and film reviews in addition to comics)and a fellow author had her novel about missionaries called "rascist (not-very-nice-word)" just because it was about missionaries. I have read a good portion of the book, and there was nothing racist about it! While she writes regular novels (not comics), I'm still scared of something like that happening to my comics, especially since my main protagonist is mixed-heritage (Caucasian and a made-up ethnic group with a different culture than most others), has superpowers (or a "genetic curse" as she calls them, though there is a completely scientific explanation for them), and is a committed Christian. How should I handle a negative review when it comes? (Either from a Christian with different values than me or an unbeliever). Any help would be great! :)
Hello K.G. Adams,
I suggest you believe that God has given you this project for His Glory and to be a blessing to others. So many Christian and non-Christian creators out there, and oceans of readers. God wants to use you to reach someone. You may know the person, you may not. It could be a project He gave you for your own transformation into the image of God, or it might touch thousands of public readers, or it may be for just one person at the right time when he or she needs what God can do through you. Be confidant in this! Christianity is not about living other people's lives, you are not an 'extra' in the movie of life, your life is -your- story, given by God. Comparisons to others can both help and hinder, you need to be confidant and at peace to see clearly what is useful criticism, and what is untrue when people critique your work.
For me, one of the deadliest errors was feeling I needed to compete with other Christians, many of whom compete artistically for sales with the mainstream and non-Christian independent comics. In time, I remembered, that was not how I started. In the beginning I wanted to give my comics to God and be a blessing to people, not make big sales. Nothing wrong with doing Christian comics for a living! I am not condemning that. I am just trying to say, know why you are doing what you are, and then you will have a center to judge critiques.
You may find that some of your roughest critics are other Christians, many of whom believe there is a 'right way', a 'one size fits all' standard that all Christian comic creators should follow. Some will tell you your art is not good enough and shames all Christian comics and are somehow unworthy. To which I would say, some of the very best Christian experiences I've had reading Christian comics were books that were not on the cutting edge artistically. Remember, God can use even stick figures, or a fish drawn in the sand to communicate his message. Always seek to excel, yes, challenge yourself to improve, but don't let anyone tell you to quit. I have also been at odds with those who proclaim that Christian comics need to be grittier, more realistic, more appealing to the unsaved, and that currently Christian comics are preachy, two dimensional, and written for Christians, not the worlds comic community at large. I think, the choir needs preaching to too. Christians need comics we can enjoy and be blessed by. So don't let anyone tell you your subject matter and approach cannot be used by God. As long as you love God and dedicate yourself to Him, He will use you!
Determine if a negative minded critic is critiquing your story or simply attacking Christianity in general. If the latter, it is no longer a critique, and is of no value as one.
I have received scathing reviews on my story 'The New Sons of Thunder', but also some beautiful ones that blessed me very much. But it is not for the reviews that we toil, but for God. Critiques are only tools to help you improve, they are never for the purpose of judging the author as a person, and if you ever feel that is happening, shut that critic off immediately. In the end, critiques should not be scary. They are just a way to hone your skills to improve on the effectiveness of how you tell the message God gave you to tell. There is no shame at all in learning a new technique to tell your story, a new skill for your storytelling, everyone is learning:)
I pray God gift you with peace and serenity as you participate in your group. I hope it's a good crew of folks, and that God will make the experience a blessing for you!
Robert has some good advice here, and he's earned the right to speak it.
I have several questions: Have you received criticism before? How did you deal with it and were you successful? Do you and the Lord (working as a team) have method(s) which get you to work through your fears?
First, you need to consider whether or not the criticism is valid. While I don't think you write anything racist, people can often see things differently than we intend them. Be it our words, actions or what we write/draw, we all have points of view and may not see things the same way. When we get a negative review, we should take a look at what they are complaining about to see whether or not there is any validity to their claims. We should also be prepared to look to scripture and see if we have crossed the line in any way per its' advice.
If we have offended someone unintentionally, we must then ask ourselves (and the Lord) about the offense. Scripture states that Jesus Christ would be "a rock of offense", but we don't go around offending people for the sake of offending them. If we have offended them with the Word of God or the preaching of the Gospel in our works, then that is one thing. We are not going to back down on that; we just can't. If we are accused of offending someone by "being racist", and through prayer and review by those we trust, we are sure we have not been, then their accusations are just that: accusations. it does not make it true. Satan accuses us day and night before the Lord, but the Lord doesn't act on it; He knows His own and he isn't about to entertain the words of a liar.
If we find we have offended someone and their criticism is true, we should try to make amends and correct the error as best we can. If we ask for forgiveness and are forgiven, great. if not, all we can do is to try to reconcile; scripture doesn't say we're forgiven if we are reconciled, but it does say that we should try to reconcile (unless circumstances prevent such) with those we have offended.
Controversy is not necessarily a bad thing, but we should be careful on what we are being controversial on and why. To do something for "shock value" is not a good reason, and neither is offending someone for the sake of offending them. However, if they are offended by something that is legitimate and not wrong per scripture, then it is their issue and all we can do is to pray for them. We should consider Paul's words about not exercising our rights if it will cause a weaker believer to sin. Keep in mind: while we're not trying to tick people off, at the same time we're also not going to keep re-writing our work to make everyone happy. Folks are offended by scripture, but God isn't going to revise it to suit their standards. While we're not God, at some point, we must stand our ground if it is of the Lord and we know we are doing His will in the matter.
Lastly: people are going to say hurtful things to us, many times to simply strike out at us for their own issues. We would do well to let the shield of faith quench those fiery darts, and have a firm control on our emotions. When we let those get out of control and we get upset easily, the adversary can use those around us to get at us and manipulate us into doing what we normally would not do. We can't get all broken up over every word or disagreement; it just isn't worth it and the roller-coaster ride of emotions can do us a great deal of harm. But we should be ready to reach out, whether it's a brother or sister in Christ we have unintentionally hurt, or an unbeliever who is angry at what we have drawn. Once again, ask the Lord if you are unsure, and don't proceed unless and until He makes His will clear to you.
Discernment is the watchword here: take each case on its' own merits and detractors.