My friend Mark Rodgers is one of the extremely interesting people I know. I got to know him when he worked in the Senate and did interesting things with among others Rick Santorum and Bono (as in together, how’s that for a fascinating duo). He runs the Clapham Group which focuses like a laser on culture and also making for more creative coalitions for the sake of families and thriving civil society (the only way we’re ever going to fix the rest). Anyway, this is short notice, but he has an ask and it’s an action item for today (Jan. 4). He recently became involved in graphic novels (comic books) and a preview of The Light Princess by George MacDonald recently landed in my inbox. It’s beautiful and the idea is to develop more of these. But they need support. Would you call a local comic-book store today and ask them to order The Light Princess, if any of our conversation sounds like something you’d like to support?
Kathryn Jean Lopez: What’s so special about The Light Princess?
Rodgers: George MacDonald was a pioneer in modern fairy tales, and his work ultimately shaped writers such as C. S. Lewis and J. R. Tolkien. In fact, Lewis said that MacDonald’s book Phantastes “baptized his imagination” and considered him his “master.” Chris Mitchell, the former director of the Wade Center at Wheaton College, the depository of Lewis and the other Inklings works, considered The Light Princess the most profound of MacDonald’s works, and the one which parallels the gospel most closely.
Lopez: Why is making a request today to your local comic book store important?
Rodgers: Comic stores need to preorder comics, and they are unable to return ones that aren’t sold, so they are reticent to order comics that someone has not requested. It is our hope that The Light Princess and other titles that are forthcoming will appeal to the mainstream market, but also bring new readers into the stores to request more content like it.
Lopez: Is there some way besides local comic book store where people can order The Light Princess?
Rodgers: The urgency for calling or stopping by your local comic story this week is that it is the only way to get the comic book series in print for now, until it is published in its entirety as a graphic novel in 2020. But we really want comic stores to carry our titles, so don’t wait! Just give your local store a call.
Lopez: Why are such messages of marriage and fidelity and trust in God so important to have on comic book store shelves?
Rodgers: The comic and graphic novel industry is important for three reasons. First, it is a subculture that needs redemptive stories. Second, it is one of the few growth areas of publishing, both in print and online. And third, the industry has an outsized influence on pop culture. Comics are not just superhero stories, the acceptance of graphic novels as a legitimate storytelling medium, the explosion of ComicCons in virtually every major city and the seedbed that comics are for the film and television industries means that the genre will only be reaching more over time, not less.
Lopez: Is your target millennials?
Rodgers: Yes, but more-so Generation Z, which is the first fully digitally native generation. They expect images to accompany words, and for storytelling to be visual. Gen Z is growing up with graphic novels in their school libraries, and they are looking for meaning through modern myths.
Lopez: What is the mission and goals of Cave Pictures Publishing and how do people keep in touch with what you are working on?
Rodgers: Our website is www.cavepicturespublishing.com and we consider ourselves a wall for modern mythmaking. Our mission is to produce content that is excellently crafted, deeply questioning, and spiritually meaningful. We are named after Plato’s allegory of the cave, because we believe in artists and authors who want to tell stories that speak to the soul and invite readers to explore new perspectives on life.
Lopez: What’s the team that brought this particular graphic novel to life? A writer and an artist, for two….? How did you come to work with them?
Rodgers: We were encouraged by several friends in the comic business, both of whom are involved. Rick Rekedel, who was formerly a senior executive at Dreamworks is developing one of our titles to be released later this year. John Nee is currently the publisher of Marvel Comics, and the founder of Cryptozoic, our business partner. We are blessed working with accomplished writers and illustrators. The team who has tackled Light Princess, Meredith Find (writer) and the husband-wife team of Renae De Liz & Ray Dillon (illustrators) are highly regarded in the industry.
Lopez: How did you decide upon doing The Light Princess and what do you hope people get out of it?
Rodgers: We want to bring MacDonald’s work and influence to a new generation. This particular title was recently adapted by Tori Amos as a musical, and it was one of several of MacDonald’s works that Maurice Sendak illustrated as a book. We hope that it will “baptize” people imaginations as MacDonald’s work did for C. S. Lewis.