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Adventures in Bookland: The Lion Comic Book Hero Bible

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While the beginning was a Word, spoken by God to and of himself, what are we to do in an age when words – the packets of meaning that carry the dim, refracted reflection of the original Word of creation – are being systematically devalued and drained of meaning? Think on it: from the inversion of meanings in slang and street talk to the complete draining of sense and colour and, sometimes, even logic that occurs in business speak, our language is having the sense drained from it, so that the awareness of power that once existed in speaking and reading, the belief, sometimes inchoate sometimes explicit, that words carry power and that that power might be made concrete in arenas as different as the working of a spell or the raising of a crowd, that sense of the power of words has diminished and in places disappeared. After all, look around you. Everywhere, people looking at screens but, for the most part, they’re watching cat videos or, thumbs blurring, they’re playing some graphics heavy game.

Our words have grown old and tired. Maybe it’s the penalty of centuries of civilisation. Maybe it’s a consequence of hearing ourselves speak so much that we have grown sick of the sound of our own voices. Or, more likely, it’s the response to the flashy new toys of the video kid. After all, movies are only a century old, TV just over half a century, and the new era of instant visuals is barely a decade old. No wonder people are dazzled by them – they still carry the flash and dazzle of movement, the deeply laid instinct to look towards something that catches our eye. Words, in comparison, are static: you have to seek them out. So no wonder then the Bible, the source of so many of the words, and most of the ideas, that underpin our creaking civilisation is passed over: it’s all just words on a page.

One way of facing this visual deficit is exactly what Lion have done with this brilliantly produced and richly conceived book: turn words into pictures – to be precise, the sorts of pictures that were the precursors of much of the film and gaming entertainment of today: comic-book art.

Siku (Old Testament) and Jeff Anderson (New Testament) draw the Word, and do so with a richness, immediacy and strangeness that kindles the Secret Fire of life back into words and stories grown old with repetition. I particularly liked Siku’s take on the Old Testament – the stylisation of his work marrying perfectly with the mythological strands of the Pentateuch.

I can think of few better ways to gain a new and fresh take on the Bible – or to have a crash course in the major aspects of biblical history. The Bible has a lot of words – the Lion Comic Book Hero Bible has a lot less!

In a culture that is rapidly losing its cultural roots, I’d also hugely recommend this book to any RE teachers looking for a quick and accessible and engaging way to introduce the Bible to a class of de-facto heathens.

 

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