Nate Butler

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Nate Butler (born February 1, 1954) is an American cartoonist and writer/illustrator of comics who is internationally recognized and acknowledged for his long career and contributions to both mainstream and Christian-themed comics.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] His full name is L Nathan Butler, with no period after the "L" (which is not an initial for a name, just as with Harry S Truman), although the name itself is a variation of the Hebrew name Elnathan, which was also the name of a multiple-greats grandfather of Butler.[9]

Personal background

Nate Butler was born in Meriden, Connecticut, and grew up in Cromwell, Connecticut. His early inspirations for writing and drawing were Dick Tracy, Sleeping Beauty (1959 film), and Tom Terrific. Butler made his first sale of a written article to the Middletown Press at the age of 17, in 1971.[10] He moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1975.

Early career

Butler began his full-time professional career at the Albuquerque News/Modern Press organization in 1975, starting in the production department and finishing as Advertising Art Director. He won an E.H. Shaffer award from the New Mexico Press Association (named in honor of a former Albuquerque Journal editor) and was awarded the Master Printers of America Certificate of Craftsmanship for his work during that time. He self-published two tabloid-size Desperate Planet comic books in 1976 and 1977.[11][12] In 1979 Butler opened his own studio and began freelancing.[13]

Butler was Born Again in late 1979. Soon after he met and married his wife Susan, and began to raise two step-daughters with her in 1981.

While operating his business as Captain Renaissance Studios in the early '80s, Butler worked almost exclusively with New Mexico-area clients such as the Albuquerque Dukes baseball team. He also contributed cartoon panels to the New Mexico Business Journal, Viva New Mexico, and New Mexico Stockman magazines. Butler was recruited to teach on cartooning and advertising layout at the Academy of Art & Design in Albuquerque. Around the time that his studio's client list expanded to New York, New York, the company name changed to The Nate Butler Studio. Butler incorporated formally in 1990.

Mainstream comics

The Nate Butler Studio, Inc. operated until 1999 producing artwork for Jim Henson Productions, Weekly Reader, Children's Television Workshop, DC Comics, and King Features Syndicate, as well as script writing for Modern Publishing, Archie Comics, and Marvel Comics. The advent of FedEx and fax machines made it possible for Butler and his art assistants to work long-distance, producing comic books, coloring books, magazines, apparel, and other licensed products utilizing characters such as The Muppets, Jughead, Popeye, Heathcliff, Bugs Bunny, Tiny Toons, Mighty Mouse, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Snuffy Smith, Animated Batman, The Jetsons, Berenstain Bears, and Tom & Jerry,[14] all without leaving Albuquerque.

When Archie Comics relaunched their Jughead title in 1987, Butler was chosen as the pencil artist, an event that was covered by the El Paso Times,[15] (picked up by the Gannett News Service in papers across the country, including the Florida News-Press, as well as by the Comic Buyer’s Guide[16] and the Albuquerque Tribune.[17]

In 1989, Butler was a headline guest along with Steve Engelhart at the 1989 Albuquerque Winter-Con. That same year he and his wife Susan co-created a children's book series about baby barnyard animals for the Honey Bear Books imprint of Modern Publishing, a mass market book publisher in New York City.[18][19] The series sold 400,000 copies but ended due to a trademark dispute with another company over the name.

Butler was also chosen by Archie Comics to launch a new Hot Dog comics title[20] and was named "Artist of the Month" on the cover of Archie Comics titles in January 1990, the month that the first issue was published.[21]

Christian comics

1990 was also the year Butler's studio formed a division called Aida Zee Comics & Magazines and began to produce Christian comics, magazines, and tracts released by the studio or outside publishers such as Parody Press, the Edge Group UK, and Bible Games Company.[22]

The studio's full-color comic Aida-Zee (1990) was the first American Christian comic to feature the talents of multiple writers and artists who were well-known in the industry mainstream including Gaylord DuBois, Nestor Redondo, Kathleen Webb, and Murphy Anderson.[23]. This comic and others by Butler's studio (Paro-Dee in 1993, Behold 3-D in 1996), along with Oboe Jones (1992), Christian Crusader (1992), Kidz of the King (1994), Archangels: The Saga (1995), Pakkins' Land (1996), and Proverbs & Parables (1998), ushered in the current modern era of Christian comics and graphic novel titles.[24]

Aida-Zee was also noted in The Comics Journal as containing "the last comic book work ... in print" by Golden Age comics pro Jay Disbrow, author of The Iger Comics Kingdom.[25] A featured Jewish hero character, Bukki, Warrior of Ancient Israel, co-created by Butler, was cited by the Israel in Comix blog.[26]

Butler's work on Aida-Zee and other Christian comics was also covered by The Ledger,[27] Amazing Heroes magazine,[28] Los Angeles Daily News,[29] Cornerstone magazine,[30] The Kansas City Star,[31] Lincoln Journal,[32] the Comic Buyer's Guide,[33] Breakaway magazine,[34] The Fresno Bee,[35] the Cincinnati Enquirer,[36] the Modesto Bee,[37] Charisma (magazine),[38] and Youthwalk magazine.[39]

Butler organized the first two Christian comics panels ever held at the San Diego Comic-Con in 1992 and 1995, with Nestor Redondo, Stan Lynde, and Kathleen Webb participating. Later Butler took part the Spirituality in Comics panel with Marv Wolfman at Supanova 2007 in Australia,[40] where Butler was a Featured Comic Book Guest along with Stan Lee and others.[41]

Butler's studio also produced the Christian Comics Catalog in 1993 and Christian Comics & Games Magazine (CC&G) in 1995. The latter was noted for containing "the last completed comic-book script of Gaylord DuBois, one of the most prolific comics writers of all time."[42] Butler launched the first Christian comics website, Christian Comics International, in 1996, after the print CC&G magazine failed. The Christian Comics Catalog continues online to this day.

Comics ministry & missions work

These publishing activities led to the founding of COMIX35 (ROX35 Media, Inc.), an international, nonprofit comics training ministry, and the "First International Christian Comics Training Conference" was held in Tagaytay, the Philippines in January 1996. COMIX35 offered additional training courses and consulting,[43] primarily in Asia, from 1996 to 1999.[44] Butler's work in Japan was covered in two articles in the newspaper クリスチャン新聞 (Christian Shinbun or Christian Newspaper).[45][46]

The Nate Butler Studio, Inc. finally ceased operations in January of 1999 so that Butler could work full-time work as a coach, consultant, and instructor for COMIX35. He was interviewed about his decision the next month in the Albuquerque Journal.[47] He was also interviewed on a number of radio and TV programs including the Billy Graham radio show Decision Today, the Morning Drive show on KLYT Christian Radio in Albuquerque, the Time to Rejoice show on KNAT-TV in Albuquerque, and by reporter Michael Harrington on SRN News in Washington DC, all in early 1999.

That same year Butler was an adviser at the start-up of the PowerMark comic book series,[48] illustrated by Steven Butler (no relation). He had also art directed an earlier PowerMark: Creation tract and Jungle Village: The Adventure Begins comic by the same publisher, illustrated by Malaysian artist Loh Sy Huey, which were used by missionaries in Southeast Asia.

In the following years Butler led comics seminars and workshops in Australia,[49][50] Japan,[51] Latin America,[52][53][54] Eastern Europe,[55][56] the USA,[57] Québec,[58] and a number of other countries.[59][60][61][62] Internationally known comics writers and artists who have taken part in COMIX35 events with Butler include Alain Auderset, Paul Castiglia, Alec Stevens, Kerry Gammill, and Ryō Azumi.

Sometime in the mid-2000s, Butler briefly re-opened his own sole proprietorship, The Nate Butler Company, to produce comics for ministries. He co-scripted and art directed a graphic novel about Brother Yun entitled Yun: The Illustrated Story of the Heavenly Man for Lion Hudson with black-and-white tonal artwork supplied by former DC Comics artist Rico Rival and Joel Chua. He also produced The Truth For Youth Bible comics for Revival Fires Ministries and the George South wrestling tracts. Then that company was closed.

Butler organized the first International Christian Comics Competition (ICCC) in 2005.[63] The winner in the professional division was Brazilian Sergio Cariello, which helped propel him to become the artist of The Action Bible graphic novel, an updated version of The Picture Bible by David C. Cook Publishing. The amateur winner was José Carlos Gutiérrez.[64] The ICCC2 was held in 2007[65] and was won by American comics artist Kevin Dzuban.

From around 2004 to 2010, Butler traveled to Japan regularly to assist Shinsei Senkyodan (New Life Ministries) with their Manga Bible series: Manga Messiah (Four Gospels), Manga Metamorphosis (Acts/Letters), Manga Mutiny (Genesis to early Exodus), Manga Melech (Exodus through the reign of David), and Manga Messengers (Solomon through the Prophets).[66] At the end of this period, the magazine 恵みの雨 (Megumi no ame or Blessed Rain) did a two-issue feature on Butler's life and his time in Japan.[67]

In 2006, Butler partnered with Australian cartoonist and filmmaker Graham Wade and animator Phil Watson to hold a second comics seminar in Sydney, Australia.[68] The next year Butler and Watson held the First Christian Animation Conference in Sydney.[69] In addition to Butler and Watson, the instructors included former Disney animators Matt Baker, Rene Pfitzner, and Ian Harrowell, the Supervising Animator for Simba in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. Butler's wife Susan was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that year, and he began to focus on projects that did not require as much international travel.

In 2008 Butler and COMIX35 produced the pilot edition of a comic written and drawn by African Christians for an English-speaking African audience. It was published under two titles, The Good Shepherd and Lifegate Comics Africana.[70] This led to a partnership with ministries operating in Francophone (French-speaking) Africa and to co-publishing the comic magazine Éclats: Bandes Dessinées d’Afrique (Bursts: Comics of Africa)[71] with Publications pour la Jeunesse Africaine (PJA), producers of the magazine Jouv’Afrique. After Butler's wife Susan passed away in 2011,[72] COMIX35 held seminars in Ivory Coast and Cameroon, Africa.[73] [74]

Butler has taught cartooning classes in prisons[75] and has worked to develop inmate-produced comics.[76] He and COMIX35 were members of Operation Starting Line (OSL),[77] which is part of Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship, and the Coalition of Prison Evangelists (COPE).[78]

Butler is considered to be an authority on Christian comics and has been interviewed about them by the Boston Phoenix,[79] Religion News Service,[80][81][82] The Good News Paper,[83] Inside MAI,[84] and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's RN.[85] He has been contacted by the media following the deaths of well-known Christian cartoonists such as Al Hartley,[86] Graham Wade,[87] and Nestor Redondo. Butler has been cited as a "National Source" for information on comics by Religion Link.[88] Butler has written about comics for publications such as Lausanne World Pulse,[89] and he tweets regularly on Christian comics and animation projects around the world.[90]

In 2013, Butler was chosen to be one of the original 44 EvangelVision bloggers selected by The Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College.[91] That same year, Butler began assisting Kingstone Comics, overseeing artists and colorists on various titles. In 2014, he wrote the Story of Ruth script for their Kingstone Bible.

Butler remarried in 2012 and gained a third daughter. He and new wife Renée relocated the COMIX35 operations to Houston, Texas, in 2014. Butler also has two sons-in-law and two grandsons.

References

  1. Nate Butler - Christian Comics Pioneer
  2. Don Markstein's Toonopedia Acknowledgments Don Markstein's Toonopedia
  3. "The Real Superman: How comic books take Jesus to the world", Today's Christian Woman, February 2009
  4. Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928-1999 (The Jerry Bails Project) Jerry Bails
  5. Scoop Fandom Advisory Network: "Superstars Turning Points" by Maggie Thompson]
  6. Christian Comics by Alec Stevens, publisher of Calvary Comics Alec Stevens
  7. DAGEN: Tecknade bilder lättast att ta till sig (Swedish newspaper DAY: "Cartoon images easiest to assimilate")
  8. The Comic Book Database: L Nathan Butler - 'Nate Butler'
  9. Elnathan Butler Family
  10. "Greek Summer 1971", The Middletown Press, 8 September 1971
  11. "Whap! On No! Skud! Zowie! (New Albuquerque comic book hits newsstands)", Albuquerque News, 13 January 1977
  12. "Desperate Planet", Seers Rio Grande Weekly, 28 January 1977
  13. Nate Butler on LinkedIn
  14. [1]
  15. "Artists pencil in Jughead’s Future", El Paso Times, 11 April 1987
  16. "Starting over at Archie", Comic Buyer’s Guide, 6 March 1987
  17. "His mighty pen peoples the land of cartoons", Albuquerque Tribune, 10 November 1988
  18. "Her Farm Inspired Cartoonist", Albuquerque Journal, 3 July 1989
  19. "Nate Butler Studio creates new character properties to license", Licensing Book magazine, February 1989
  20. "Preview: Jughead’s Pal Hot Dog", Comic Buyer’s Guide, 22 September 1989
  21. Jughead's Pal Hot Dog #1
  22. Nate Butler on LinkedIn
  23. Mile High Comics: Aida-Zee #1 - Bibliography
  24. Notable Christian Comics 1990-1999
  25. "Dreams of the Future - Jay Disbrow"
  26. Israel in Comix Blog: Israel & Israelis in Comix
  27. "Christian comics 'candle' in world of Dark Knight", The (Lakeland, FL) Ledger, 20 October 1990
  28. "Comics in Review", Amazing Heroes p 70, October 1990
  29. "Hot Tips", Daily News/L.A. Life, 11 October 1990
  30. "Kudos all the way around to Butler and staff", Cornerstone, Volume 19, Issue 93, p 35
  31. "Comic Book's heroes present Christian message", Kansas City Star, 17 November 1990
  32. "Comic books go religious", Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal, 3 December 1990
  33. "Comics Reviews, Comics Buyer's Guide p 59, 25 January, 1991
  34. “Comic Books: The Good, The Bad, The ???”, Breakaway magazine, October 1992
  35. "Alternatives to vulgar comic books available", The Fresno (California) Bee, 17 September 1994
  36. “God’s Squads”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 8 November 1994
  37. "Christians capture a corner of the cards and comics craze", Modesto (California) Bee, 5 November 1994
  38. "Christian Comic-Book Artists Battle Perception That Their Work Is 'Evil'", Charisma, November 1995
  39. "Up Close & Personal: Nate Butler, Artist/Editor of Christian Comics", Youthwalk, February 1996
  40. Supanova 2007
  41. The Fanzone: Madman Around the Web: "Supanova Expo - Sydney 2007"
  42. "Tony's Tips!", Comic Buyer's Guide, 13 October 1995
  43. Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels
  44. Past COMIX35 Events, Part I : 1996 to 2001
  45. `セサミストリートのイラストレーター‘ナット・バトラー氏来日“一流のまんがで” ("Sesame Street no illustrator' Nate Butler shi rainichi 'Ichi ryuu mannga de'" or "'Using top class Manga': 'Sesame Street Illustrator' Nate Butler visits Japan"), Christian Shinbun, 23 June 1996
  46. 伝道まんがを描いてみよう ("Dendou Manga wo egaitemiyou" or "Let’s try to draw outreach manga"), Christian Shinbun, 2 August 1998
  47. "N.M. Comic Book Artist Devotes His Gift to God", Albuquerque (New, Mexico) Journal, 8 February 1999
  48. Grand Comics Database - Powermark #1
  49. "New life for aging art form"
  50. SIGHT: "A Comic Perspective: How Christian Artists are Using Cartoons to Spread God's Word"
  51. "Comic Seminars prove popular in Japan", Catalyst, 1998, No.2
  52. Letra Viva: "Concurso de Historietas Cristianas en Español"
  53. "Comics Con Poder"
  54. Noticiero Milamex: "Curso sobre Cómo crear cómics efectivos de alcance"
  55. Magazine Training International: "Croatia 2005 Conference Report"
  56. Ukraine Comic Seminar
  57. "Your Testimony in Manga" by Nate Butler and Kathleen Webb
  58. "Seminar in Quebec 2011"
  59. "KAPOW! Christian Comics Impact Evangelism", The Banner (Christian Reformed Church magazine) p 14, 8 October 2001
  60. "Is it a Butler, is it a plane?", Christian (UK) Herald, 13 April 2002
  61. Past COMIX35 Events, Part II: 2002 to 2011
  62. Past COMIX35 Events, Part III: 2012 to present
  63. "No funny business: International Christian Comics Competition Puts the Medium in a Serious Light"
  64. "En concurso de caricaturas: ganan tres Mexicanos", Noticiero Milamex, 1 June 2005
  65. Christian Retailing: Online contest showcases comic creators
  66. NEXTManga
  67. [クリスチャン物語(十人十色のものがたり)第32回 ("Kurisuchyan no monogatari (jyuunin toiro no monogatari)dai" sanjyuuni kai or "Christian Tales (stories of 'several people, several minds')" 32nd article) and クリスチャン物語(十人十色のものがたり)第33回 ("Kurisuchyan no monogatari (jyuunin toiro no monogatari)dai" sanjyuusan kai or "Christian Tales (stories of ‘several people, several minds')" 33rd article)
  68. "Using Humor to reach people for Christ", New Life news magazine, 29 June 2006
  69. The 1st ANIMAX35 Christian Animation Conference
  70. History of CAIB Festival
  71. Éclats d'Afrique
  72. "Christian Educator Had Endless Optimism"
  73. Encompass World Partners: "Groundbreaking writing-illustrating conference in Cameroon"
  74. "La Côte d'Ivoire regorge d'auteurs talentueux..." entretien de Christophe Cassiau-Haurie avec Benjamin Kouadio
  75. Norwich (CT) Bulletin "Workshop Helps Inmates Draw on Forgotten Talents"
  76. "Comics Tell Inmate Stories: a Q&A with Nate Butler"
  77. OSL Collaborating Ministries
  78. COPE Membership List
  79. "Comics for Christ: Evangelicals are speaking in bubbles — and fighting God’s war on pop culture"
  80. "New manga version of Bible turns Jesus into superhero"
  81. "Jesus the ultimate superhero", TCPalm (Florida), 9 February 2008
  82. "New 'Manga' Bible Casts Jesus as Ultimate Superhero"
  83. "Every picture tells a story", The Good News Paper (UK), March 2003
  84. Inside MAI: "Reaching the Masses with Comics"
  85. ENCOUNTER radio broadcast: "Comic Book Superheroes"
  86. Obituary: Al Hartley, 1922-2003
  87. Graham Wade Obituary
  88. "Superheroes and spirituality: The religion of the comic book", 4 May 2013
  89. "Christian Comics? It’s No Laughing Matter!", Lausanne World Pulse, Issue 07-2006
  90. Comic Book Resources: Comics Twitter Directory
  91. EvangelVision: Nate Butler Archive

External links