Comics, Coming to Christ and Community: Q&A with José Carlos Gutiérrez M.

LittWorld 2024 host chair José Carlos Gutiérrez M. attended LittWorld for the first time in Kenya in 2012. Since then, he has been involved in MAI’s training events. He currently serves on the MAI International Board and is leading efforts to form an MAI Regional Board in Latin America. José Carlos is director of Comix35 Next Gen, a global Christian comics ministry. He shares his publishing journey in this Q&A.

How did you come to know Christ?

My journey to Christ has been like a rollercoaster ride. Growing up Catholic, I struggled to grasp the teachings, especially after losing my mom in a tragic accident when I was only nine. That loss left me questioning the existence of God.

However, at the age of 23, I experienced a pivotal moment when I joined an addictions recovery program. There, I met someone whose life had undergone a remarkable transformation. He invited me to his church, and by the end of the service, something just clicked. I made the decision to repent and invite Jesus into my heart, igniting a personal relationship that has since become the cornerstone of my life.

How has God encouraged you in your non-profit comics ministry?

Ever since encountering Christ, I’ve had a burning desire to use my talents for His glory.

When I stumbled upon Comix35 and their international Christian comics contest back in 2005, I knew I had found my calling. Winning that contest was a significant confidence boost, opening my eyes to the vast potential of using comics to share the gospel.

But what truly drives me is the realization that there’s a dire need for more comics with biblical values, especially in a world saturated with anti-Christian content. Every day, I’m inspired to hone my craft and create stories that draw people closer to Jesus.

Psalm 121 holds a special place in my heart. Having navigated through perilous territories in Mexico City, engaging in art activities, social work, and sharing the gospel with those living on the streets, I bear witness to the truth of this psalm, “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

In what ways have you been impacted by the ministry of MAI?

MAI has been an incredible blessing in my life, both spiritually and professionally. Their workshops, conferences, and monthly webinars have equipped me with invaluable knowledge on a wide range of topics, from digital publishing to storytelling techniques.

Beyond the practical skills, it’s the sense of community within MAI that has truly enriched my experience. The connections I’ve formed have not only expanded my professional network but also deepened my spiritual growth. Serving on the international board with MAI has been a privilege, providing me with mentors and peers who have guided and supported me along the way.

Furthermore, I’m deeply honored to be part of the hosting team for LittWorld in Mexico. Despite the prevalent negative portrayal of Mexico in global media, the profound work of God here is undeniable. While crime and violence often dominate headlines, there is a significant narrative of God’s grace and transformative power at work.

What are some of your cherished LittWorld memories?

Reflecting on my journey, one standout memory from LittWorld goes back to Kenya 2012. That welcome session was something else—everyone from different backgrounds standing together, praising God. It was a real moment of unity.

Then in Singapore 2018, reconnecting with folks from Kenya was a blast, and leading workshops on comics and graphic novels for students from five continents—even though English isn’t my first language—was quite an honor.

Hungary 2022 was another highlight—meeting the MAI Latin America group face-to-face for the first time after a year of virtual collaboration during the pandemic was just awesome. Their resilience and dedication to building community were truly inspiring.

What are your aspirations for LittWorld 2024?

I’m excited to ramp up community engagement, especially in Latin America. Encouraging the global Christian publishing community and fostering a supportive environment for them is key.

With Mexico’s strategic accessibility, I see LittWorld as a hub for inspiration, where writers, editors, publishers from all walks of life can come together and freely share their stories.

Please share with us one person who has been significant to your growth, and how.

I’ve been incredibly blessed to have individuals who have profoundly influenced both my spiritual and professional growth.

In my home country of Mexico, pastors Gilberto and Yanina Gutierrez have been like guiding lights, nurturing my faith through their selfless dedication to serving the church community.

Sally Isáis, the director of Milamex Ediciones, has been a true role model, demonstrating remarkable leadership qualities rooted in the teachings of Jesus.

Nate Butler, my cherished mentor and friend, has been a constant source of encouragement, urging me to break barriers in my comics ministry while staying true to gospel values.

And then there’s the inspiring couple, Tan Soo Inn and Bernice Lee from Singapore, whom I had the pleasure of meeting through MAI. Their unwavering faith and global perspective have been a source of strength and encouragement as I navigate the complexities of ministry.

Lastly, John Maust’s leadership has been nothing short of a blessing in my life. Serving under his guidance and witnessing his commitment to collaboration and community has been truly inspiring.

How can we pray?

Comics ministry: I would deeply appreciate your prayers as we aim to expand our ministry’s involvement in comic projects. Despite having a global network of talented artists, finding publishers committed to this genre on a global scale remains a challenge.

LittWorld organizing committee: Pray for favorable outcomes in the details we’re tackling, especially transportation logistics. Interpretation and translation are also essential to ensure everyone can fully engage with the conference topics.

MAI Latin America Board: Pray for wisdom in solidifying the official board of MAI Latin America, hopefully in the near future, empowering us to expand our reach in editorial training initiatives.

Persecuted Christians: Let’s not forget to pray for the persecuted Christians in our midst who endure hardships across our nations.

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