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Comic and Bible: Opening and closing the doors

The 4 centuries of the translation of the Bible into King James′s English have been completed and in spite of the fact that some 450 more translations have been printed, many such as the controversial father of the underground comic Robert Crumb or the famous Siku manga artist, famous for their work for comics with high violent content such as Judge Fredd or Sinister-Dexter, they continue to use and disseminate this ancient translation.

Article by Pablo Fernández from Barcelona on Friday, January 13th 2012 ·.·★ Reading takes 17 minutes or 3308 words.


Publishers with a view for business have taken full advantage of personalizing the Bible - no doubt the best selling book in the world. Recently they have customized it for markets as specific as teenagers, honeymooners or African-American women. Most of the time, as the New York Times pointed out, the differences between some Bibles and others are very superficial and yet the profits can be many.

Thomas Nelson, as they declared themselves, sold in a single month 40,000 copies of Revolve: a Bible with a cover that mimics the cover of a magazine for teenagers with headlines in pink type ′25 tips to get the best out of your relationships.′ To a person who knows the text of the Bible, even if only superficially, the question will arise of how they can be sold in such wrapping usual texts of the Bible such as ′Because of you we are dead all the time′ or ′if don′t regret, you will all perish equally. ′ But this is not something that seems to concern publishers especially.

We must notice that this is not entirely new. In the handmade production of Bibles during the fourteenth century, for example, we often find that the people who paid for the orders also asked to appear in the ostentatious drawings that alternately illustrated the sacred history with the secular and with which they intended to acquire greater notoriety among his contemporaries.


Basil Wolverton and his series published in the United States during the 1960s are a singular precedent in the world of comics. Basil Wolverton, renowned cartoonist of the magazine MAD, was baptized in 1941, with 32 years, in the church that today is called Grace Communion International, where he held the position of elder shortly after. What we know today as ′The Wolverton Bible′ is but a compilation of the more than 500 illustrations that Basil made on behalf of his church from 1953 until the end of his life on the Old Testament and the Apocalypse. Wolverton, whose drawings had been characterized by the grotesque, found a perfect place to develop in parallel his faith and his work in this community so used to talk about the end times. A comic book fan named Jack Chick, deeply influenced by works like Basil′s, would make his own Chick Publications and a series of small comics that Basil Wolverton should not be confused with since 1961. .

The father of the anime Osamu Tezuka, who had no interest in the Bible more than he can have in any other historical book, received in 1984, 10 years after Basil′s death, a unique commission from the radio station. Italian television RAI. His mission was to create an anime version of the Bible and although he spent two years working on the project he died before seeing it finished. Using that first work and the general idea of ​​Tezuca, 26 anime chapters are completed that will appear without grief or glory in 1992 under the name ′In the beginnning: The Bible Stories′.


In 2006 the manga sold 125 million dollars in the West and increased its figures every year, so it is not surprising that on February 15, 2007, Hodder and Stoughton, a British publisher for authors such as Stephen King who also has a specialized subdivision in Christian books, I released ′The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation′ by Siku, and soon sold 30,000 copies only in the United Kingdom.

Then Tyndale, the Bible Society of Japan, NEXT and Mecha Manga Bible Heroes try without much success to repeat the feat with lesser Japanese cartoonists such as Hidenori Kumai, Kozumi Shinozawa or Atsuko Ogawa. That same year also the publishing giant Zondervan did the equivalent with the series ′Son of Samson′ and the drawings of the Brazilian Sergio Cariello. Sergio Cariello was then known especially for his work for Marvel, but he would end up completing his own personal project with a smaller editorial: ′The Action Bible′ (David C. Cook, 2010). At that time the market was already saturated with this type of editions.

The acceptance of Ajibayo -Siku -Akinsiku′s manga in Spain during 2009 was very different from the one he had had two years earlier in the United Kingdom despite the bet of a comic giant like Panini, who took her to The kiosks And, as the spokesmen of the Generation X store rightly said, in Spain the Bible will not have good acceptance among the usual consumers of the comic ′neither in this nor in another format′.

Ajibayo -Siku -Akinsiku was born in the mid-60s in the context of an Anglican family from Leicester (England), studied design and printing at a technology school in Nigeria and from 1992 began working as a cartoonist for important companies such as Marvel, the creative publisher of super heroes like Spider-Man or Captain America. His works for Judge Fredd, Sinister-Dexter, Sláine or Witch World demonstrate a remarkable ability to work on issues related to the darker and more violent side of people. When the time is right, he begins his studies at the London School of Theology and, with the help of his brother Akin′s scripts, he dedicates himself completely not to custom work but exclusively to the elaboration of a personal project: a version Bible manga.

Alejandro Martínez de Panini himself, who finally distributes the book in Spain, had to recognize that: ′From the first page you can tell that it is not an order′. For any attentive observer it is clear that his work distances himself from the tendencies pointed at the beginning of these lines. Probably a work of such quality and with so much respect to the original text has not been easily done or done. We are not facing a new Bible of cartoons for children and although Siku himself confesses in the epilogue that does not fully understand the most violent scenes of the Bible, he does not hide them either: ′We do not have adequate answers no matter how much we racked our brains′ -firm verbatim.

That, which might seem like a contradiction on your part, should actually be considered as a virtue; since the usual thing in another person would have been to hide the parts that he didn′t understand. This custom of changing the content of the Bible, to adapt it to the expectations of it, has greatly impaired the communication of the content of the Bible. Although fortunately that bad habit has not deprived us of having hundreds of thousands of original manuscripts of the Bible, which endorse the original meaning of the words, the truth is that, in the end, the one who is most documented is not believed from the original sources but to the one who makes the most noise.


The provocative American author Robert Crumb, named father of the underground comic, brought to light in October 2009 his most ambitious work: the first book of the Bible, Genesis. At 66, in exile in France, he is still encouraged in his attacks against religion, and yet, from the perspective of his declared agnosticism, he ensures that he has respected the original texts by extracting them, in cocrete, from the Torah translated by Robert Alter and of the Bible translated by King James.

While it is true that, like Siku, Robert Crumb does well not to hide the scenes of sex or violence of the Bible, reading the interviews of the American cartoonist is clear that it differs from the other in its intentionality to argue About the biblical content. As he told the media, he could afford not to ironically explicitly because the original ′is already quite crazy′.

Robert Crumb feels he is the protagonist of a new controversy where he believes he has put a part of society back in trouble. Robert Crumb, however, should not forget that if the American edition can carry today that label that warns about the danger of its content, of which it is so proud, it is precisely because the authors of the original text of the Bible, did not sweeten either those stories.

Most of the scenes of sex and violence that are recorded in Genesis, such as that scene where Lot′s two daughters get their father drunk to have him a son -detailed by Crumb in his work-, do not add no moral judgment or a specific teaching in the Bible. In fact, in the Bible, complete books such as Esther or Judges were written without a conclusion, giving the impression of being mere canvases on which the decline of the human race is represented, thousands of years before the birth of Robert Crumb.


Norma Editorial is today one of the most prestigious international comic book publishers, was founded in 1977 by Rafael Martínez and today has its own stores in the main cities of Spain. The huge store they have in Barcelona received precisely this past month the prize for the best bookstore in the world for the Con Comic de San Diego. In May 2005, Norma Editorial had already put on sale ′The Bible′, an artbook with more or less unfinished works by British cartoonist Simon Bisley, famous for his works for Lobo, ABC Warriors or Sláine. In it he deals with notorious success with specific scenes from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the history of the Church in the powerful line of Frank Frazetta that characterizes him. The result is impeccable and demonstrates with mastery the enormous possibilities that biblical stories have to deal with, for example, topics such as majesty and the fright of supernatural powers.

The decision of this institution to publish in March 2011 a box with two volumes of the Bible - Old Testament and New Testament - and a total of 880 pages in black and white was more than disclosed and commented on the forums of the sector. Annabel Espada, editor of Norma Editorial, made it clear to the press that she was aware of the little interest that these subjects aroused among the usual consumers of the comic. The work, therefore, has tried to sell with a slightly different approach than usual, more like adapting a classic with the added value of fidelity to the original. That distinguishing feature that for other publishers could have been a defect was contributed by two believers such as Noboru Yamaguchi and Masakazu Higuchi, screenwriter and cartoonist respectively of the Japanese edition published by Word of Life Press in December 2006.

The Frenchman Philippe Lechermeier had only been writing for four years when he published his famous book ′Forgotten or Unknown Princesses′ (Edelvives, 2004). Surely many of you will know him more for the beautiful and melancholic illustrations of the princesses that Rèbecca Dautremer made for him. She really came from the world of design and photography but has since had enormous success in the illustration of children′s books such as ′Alice in Wonderland′ or movies such as ′Kerity, the house of stories.′ Philippe Lechermeier had continued to seek more inspiration for ten years in stories such as Pulgarcito′s, when during a dinner, a friend of his asked her: ′What would now be the book that would be a major challenge for you?′.

The question sowed him restlessness, sought again the help of Rèbecca Dautremer and wrote this paraphrase of the Bible - the book he says in the following promotional video, his grandmother discovered him as a child. The result went on sale in a single volume of hardcover as ′A Bible′ (Edelvives, 2014) and more recently, with a binding at a more affordable price, in two volumes separating the New and the Old Testament. As the name implies, the author also insists that it is a paraphrase that is not designed to take to the church or faith grounds but to be used poetically or aesthetically. That is why the first thing that Rèbecca Dautremer does is deconstruct and unlearn all the concepts she already had about the Bible. He also says he has the benefit that nowhere in the Bible is it said that Jesus was blond or had long hair.

Two years later, editor Frédéric Boyer had sought in 2016 the help of many French authors such as Emmanuel Carrère or Jean Echenoz with the aim of telling Bible stories with a markedly poetic language. He had also searched for the prestigious Serge Bloch, illustrator of publications such as The Washington Post or The New Yorker, for the visual part of this magnificent work with 528 color pages in folio size at the ridiculous price of € 33. The newspaper ABC.es made a review and Editorial Sexto Piso, the publisher that distributes its translation into Spanish has published this video for all those who are curious about what is inside this highly recommended work.

Finally I cannot fail to highlight the wonder that despite the abuse the Bible has suffered during so many centuries of friends and enemies, intentionally or involuntarily, the original texts, finally and after all, have been able to reach us. Below the facilities or above the difficulties, with ugly or beautiful drawings and even without them, God - who does not seem to want to hold on to our clumsy and interested ways of doing things, opening and closing doors on which people believed Having full control has allowed us to have the original text.

This is an short translation of the original article published in Spanish by Entrelíneas: Revista de Arte as El cómic y la Biblia abriendo y cerrando puertas

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