Scripture writ large! That’s the news today! Like the artists who created stained-glass windows, marble statues and icons to bring the Bible to life down through the centuries, contemporary Christian comic book artists are casting fresh light on scripture.
It’s an incredibly difficult challenge. Many Christian comic book artists can’t afford to seriously pursue their calling. Many try—and fail. A biblical comic series we recommended a couple of years ago, called “Dust,” is still available from a few resellers, but the “Dust” team finally had to close up shop.
Today, we’ve got some good comic book news. And, you can help make it better! One longtime friend of ReadTheSpirit is journalist K.J. Kolka, creator of The Cardinal comics. You can enjoy the ongoing adventures of Kolka’s crime-fighting hero online. In his private life, the fictional Cardinal is a good-hearted young fellow who helps his community in many ways. In his fully costumed crime-fighting role, the Cardinal flies through the skies and tackles larger evils. Recently, Kolka also has produced a beautiful, indie-published comicbook version of the Cardinal.
I’ll admit to some bias here as editor of ReadTheSpirit, since I wrote the preface for Kolka’s book-length Cardinal comic. Efforts to keep religious comic books blossoming take many people spreading word all the time. (Although we’re focusing on Christian comics today, remember that there are more than Christian comics out there. A Muslim comics series focuses on the many different names for God. There are Hindu, Buddhist and even Yoruban comics.)
One reason we strongly support Kolka’s work is that he’s also a big supporter of other comic artists. At the moment, the online version of his Cardinal comic is promoting the 70th annivesary of “Brenda Starr” comics. Through the years, Kolka has tirelessly promoted classic and emerging comics. Kolka spreads the good news. Please, if you care about comics, join us.
Kolka introduced the whole ReadTheSpirit staff to Texas-based comic book artist Robert Luedke, who ranks as the king of independent Christian comics in our view. It’s true that, these days, various commercial publishers have jumped on the bandwagon with comic books, graphic novels and manga aimed at religious readers. Zondervan, for example, has a whole line of inspirational Japanese-style manga on biblical themes, all aimed at evangelical readers.
What Luedke has achieved, though, is a cathedral-class series of graphic novels called “Eyewitness.” The storyline combines Indiana Jones, gripping New Testament stories, time travel, espionage and dramatic scenes that rank among the best in American comic artistry. One example from this new volume is a dramatic sequence in which Paul is a prisoner on a Roman ship, fighting to save lives in the midst of a storm and shipwreck. Be careful not to rip the pages as you keep flipping to learn what happens next!
Want to help with this effort to encourage the resurgence in religious comic books? Then, visit Robert Luedke’s website and order the “Eyewitness” series. If you’ve followed our past recommendations and already own the first three volumes—the news today is that Luedke’s Volume 4 is finished!
To Learn More about the Rebirth of Christian Comic Books:
In 2008, we reported on an important book-length history of comics in American culture, especially focused on the furious campaigns to ban and burn comic books.
Here’s an excerpt of that 2008 article on comic-book paranoia: This was, indeed, a very strange outbreak of paranoia and bigotry… It was partly a flowering of anxiety about emerging youth culture that began as far back as the war years. It was partly an ugly fear of the “sort of people” involved in producing comic books, who were considered socially unsavory—a tragic bias vaguely aimed at “lower-class” and immigrant Americans. Along the way, a great deal of damage was done. (…)
This is a cautionary tale against censorship, which cost the religious community far more than it gained by righteously crusading against pulp. … It’s only now—half a century after the purge—that comics are rebounding in a big way and, finally, there’s growing interest in spiritual circles in drawing young readers into timeless truths with the powerful words and images of comic artistry.
ENJOY OUR ENTIRE GREAT SUMMER READING AND VIEWING SERIES: (Our series so far: “Crown of Aleppo,” “Science Vs. Religion,” “Belief,” “Apparition,” “Burma VJ,” “Facets World Cup,” “Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth” “The Lonely Polygamist,” “Rise and Shine,” “Saints,” “Beaches of Agnes,” “Mystically Wired,” “Creative Aging” and “Twelve by Twelve.”)
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