Name of Book: The Comic Book Bible
Author: Rob Suggs
Illustrator: Rob Suggs and Christopher Gray
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
Audience: Ages 7 – 12
Summary: Many of the great stories from the Bible – creation, Noah, Moses, David and Goliath, Birth of Christ, the Resurrection, Paul’s travels, and more – are re-told in an engaging and fun comic book format.
Literary elements at work in the story : Since this book is the Bible in comic book form, the setting, characters, plot, theme – are we in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, or wandering in the wilderness with Jesus, or perhaps being shipwrecked with Paul – all change according to the story being told. Yet, even though they are different because they are being told in a comic book format, and were written and illustrated by the same people, the stories have a very cohesive feel to them. They flow well in both text and imagery and therefore, in my opinion, give the book a feeling of “wholeness”. The Bible, in my opinion, often feels disjointed, especially for young readers. By putting it in a reader friendly format, like a comic book, I think it helps the reader see how the stories flow into one another and that they are connected. The point of view for the book seems to be a combination of first and third person. The third person narrator uses scripture and interjections to move the reader from panel to panel and page to page, yet within each panel the story is told from the perspective of the characters themselves. The style of the book, in much the same way as the point of view, utilizes many different techniques to tell the story. First and foremost is the use of images and imagery – it is a comic book after all. In terms of the illustrations, they are more “juvenile” or cartoonish in their rendering than say the more realistic (albeit gritty) illustrations in a graphic novel or the unique wide-eyed illustrations of Japanese Manga books. The cartoonish nature of the illustrations may contribute to the book being rated for a much younger audience than we would think. The book also uses voice in a very engaging way. Scripture can be very intimidating for young children and by using the more “folksy” and comfortable language and visuals of the comic book format the child tends to be less apprehensive as they learn the stories of our faith. “You can, after all, “read” them [a comic book] by only occasionally looking at the words.” (Children’s Books in Children’s Hands, p. 7)
(How) does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? While I wouldn’t say this book is close to being culturally diverse, there are a variety of skin tones as the illustrators attempt to portray a more realistic depiction of the people who populate the Bible. Comic books, and traditional literature like the Bible have a lot of villains and heroes, and the “villains” in this book like other comic books, tend to be drawn in a dramatic fashion. I find the idea of presenting the Bible in comic book format very thought provoking. Since many of the stories covered in this version are already very familiar to readers, it challenges us to re-imagine how the scene might look as well as face pre-conceived ideas and stereotypes we may have developed.
Theological conversation partners: The Comic Book Bible is very faithful to scripture and doesn’t favor the easy stories and shy away from the more difficult ones. Earlier I mentioned that the “villains” in the Comic Book Bible are drawn in a dramatic fashion. It would have been very easy for this book to make a subliminal, or perhaps overt, statement to the children about how villains look. While there are a few stereotypes in the book I feel like they do an overall good job showing that “villains”, then and now, can be found in all races and creeds. The book also does an extremely good job of citing the scripture passages that each story comes from so that children, and adults can then read the same story in a traditional Bible. The Comic Book Bible would please John Calvin. Nowhere in the Bible do they attempt to portray God. In every instance where a person encounters God, it is God’s voice that is heard and occasionally (when it is in keeping with scripture) God is portrayed in symbol – the wind, the burning bush, a dove – but nowhere do they attempt to represent God in an image. For those who have difficulty with gender specific language they will find God referred to in masculine terms and pronouns.
Faith Talk Questions:
- What is your favorite story in the Bible?
- Did you like the way the Comic Book Bible told your favorite story? Why or shy not?
- Do you think this is a good way to share the Bible with other children?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Shasta Brown.
Filed under: Bible Storybooks, Book Reviews, Books written for Grades 1 -3 (Ages 6-8), Books written for Grades 5-8 (Ages 10 -13), Middle Schoolers, Older Elementary Tagged: | Bible, comic book, illustrations