Artistic interpretation of the Bible and its contents is as old as the stories themselves. From decorations in places of worship, to imaginative storytelling, through to icons, paintings, flannelgraphs(!) and sculpture, artists have sought to bring their interpretation of the stories to life. And recently, there’s been an increased production of related-material in the comic book/graphic novel format – from both religious and secular content creators.
This week I managed to get my hands on the public library’s copy of Marked!, Steve Ross’ contemporary graphic interpretation of the Gospel of Mark. (BTW – Public libraries want you to recommend books for them to get. If they don’t have a book and you can give them the details they’ll normally buy a copy for the library.) I enjoyed it, and thought the reframing of the story within the context of a contemporary occupation by a Western superpower – both physically, ideologically and economically – would allow the book to open doors to discussion with an audience not served by other ways in which the gospels may be communicated.
That said, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The graphic novel genre doesn’t work for many people, and the artistic rendering of the story (and the spin it’s given) might clash, or at least hinder, those who prefer the text to provide a world that they fill in the details of in their own minds. You can read an interview with Steve Ross about Marked! at Emergent UK Media Arts: Interview with Steve Ross.
The other day I saw a copy of The Manga Bible in the front window of one of NZ’s major book chains in town. It’d be interesting to compare the intent of the different authors and their styles. I’ll see if the library can get a copy in. (All graphic novels end up in the young adults section though – in spite of content – which says something about how the library here sees them).
Greenflame · The Lone and Level Sands and Greenflame · Middle Eastern video games and comic books on various recent religion-related stories told using comics.
Greenflame · Society of Biblical Literature and comics on (theological) academic engagement, Greenflame · God, superheroes and the graphic novel genre.
The range of Christian/religious use of comics is huge too. Some other examples include:
- The infamous Chick Tracts and the related comic books relating to salvation, the occult and evolution.
- Comics like those produced by Calvary Comics including Glory to God.
- Greenflame · Serenity (The other one).
- Royden Lepp: Shepherding Comics
- Comic Books Spread The Word, Christian Titles Grow Rapidly As Artists Draw Inspirational Stories – CBS News
- The Lion Graphic Bible (Mike Maddox. Illustrated by Jeff Anderson). Interview here.
The links in the list above are presented ‘as is’ and are given as examples of the genre, not as recommendations per se.