Mar 012008

--Photo: The Manga Bible--

Earlier this week I listened to an NPR Interview about The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation. The book blurb by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, says, “It will convey the shock and freshness of the Bible in a unique way.” The author and illustrator, Ajinbayo “Siku” Akinsuku, a trained Anglican theologian, says his interpretation is, “a way of making a relevant message contemporary … It was time for us to update the biblical message.”

The New York Times article does make a good point that when Europe was largely illiterate, stained glass windows were used to relate Bible stories. The western world may not be illiterate, but our society is definitely biblically illiterate.

Comics Worth Reading has a very thorough review of the comic. They are not too impressed, either with its graphics or its message.

The artwork doesn’t look very mangaesque. In fact, it is more reminiscent of English independent comics. This makes sense since the artist, Siku, got his start working for 2000 AD. I found the art dissatisfying. It reminds me of the sketches artists do when they are roughing figures into a panel to determine what pose to use and how everything will fit together. There are lots of stray lines that appear to have no purpose and only the foreground figures are drawn in detail. Often midground and far away figures are just outlines. The book needs a good art editor to clean up and smooth out the linework.

and regarding the text

The narrative reads like the scriptwriter is strip-mining scripture. He bulldozes over details and nuances in the Biblical text to move the plot along.

Using the story of Joseph as an example he concludes:

By reducing this part of Joseph’s life (his childhood) to just four panels, the Manga Bible plows under all the subplots and subtly of the original Biblical story. I understand the Manga Bible is meant to be a quick survey of the entire Bible. However, even a summary of the text should include the important details, such as Joseph’s dreams. If you can’t tell the story well, then maybe you shouldn’t tell it at all and simply direct the reader to the source material.

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