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).