For my birthday, my wife was twisted enough to buy me “The Action Bible” as she likes to tease my atheist sensibilities.I tend to collect weird and unusual religious paraphernalia and suffice to say I have added The Action Bible to my bookshelf along with the classic The Picture Bible. The comic book art for The Picture Biblewas done by Iva Hoth and for The Action BibleSergio Cariello.
The Picture Bible, if you’re not familiar with it, is a collection of Sunday School tracts drawn in comic book form. Growing up, each week we kids would receive a new Pix, as they were called, which was a moral lesson derived from the Bible or some sort of history lesson from the life of a Biblical figure. They were very brief, but for us kids comics were comics and wanting to be an artist I always studied and drew on them through the painful sermons I had to attend after Sunday School. I’m not sure exactly when The Picture Bible was collected, but the interior publishing date says 1978, 1988. It is by David C. Cook Publishing who, as we will see, specializes in religious comics.
I keep The Picture Bible handy as it is a good artist’s reference for perceptions on what Biblical figures looked like and wore. Samson, for example, has a mullet (ears have to show) while other male figures look very “white.” Female Biblical figures are a throwback to the era of Cecil B. DeMille.
The Picture Bible is far from complete, missing stories like Job and glossing over Revelations. But for kids it is an introduction minus all the good stuff like violence, rape and incest.
The new and improved Action Bible, from the same publisher, looks like something from Marvel Comics. It is a vast improvement on The Picture Bible with better artwork, more coverage of the Bible including Job, Revelations (still too brief) and more characterization. It even includes weird prophetic creatures from Daniel 7 and some stories of the prophets which you might expect to be cut because of the lack of space. A comic book Bible is hindered by the fact that drawing each book would create too many pages to compact into one hardcover edition. Fact is, it may have been better to split this project into volumes and honestly do a thorough exploration of all of the stories and prophecies–that would be one hell of a project. It also would involve some rather R-rated moments, but any bloodletting or sex could be put off panel or shown in such a manner that it wouldn’t offend the targeted Christian buyer.
If you go to Amazon you’ll see more comic book bibles from The Graphic Bible to The Manga Bible. My collection is far from complete. I also have yet to pick up Robert Crumb’s depiction of the Bible for adults.
That’s unfortunately the problem with both The Picture Bible and The Action Bible–they’re for kids or dumbed down adults. If I had to choose though, I would take The Action Bible–larger, better art, and better story exploration. Now if David C. Cook would come out with the Comic Book Bible Commentary…
SIDENOTE: My major, major complaint with both of these editions is that Eve’s hair is still covering her boobs. Oh when shall we see Eve nude in all her innocent and perfect glory? …I guess we could throw in a nice ass on Adam too for the ladies and gay male readers.