Graven Images: Religion in Comic Books & Graphic Novels
A. David Lewis, Christine Hoff Kraemer
Bloomsbury Academic, Oct 21, 2010 - Social Science - 366 pages
Comic books have increasingly become a vehicle for serious social commentary and, specifically, for innovative religious thought. Practitioners of both traditional religions and new religious movements have begun to employ comics as a missionary tool, while humanists and religious progressives use comics' unique fusion of text and image to criticize traditional theologies and to offer alternatives. Addressing the increasing fervor with which the public has come to view comics as an art form and Americans' fraught but passionate relationship with religion, Graven Images explores with real insight the roles of religion in comic books and graphic novels.
In essays by scholars and comics creators, Graven Images observes the frequency with which religious material in devout, educational, satirical, or critical contexts occurs in both independent and mainstream comics. Contributors identify the unique advantages of the comics medium for religious messages; analyze how comics communicate such messages; place the religious messages contained in comic books in appropriate cultural, social, and historical frameworks; and articulate the significance of the innovative theologies being developed in comics.
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Graven Images: Religion in Comic Books and Graphic NovelsUser Review - Book Verdict
Every art form has told stories of faith, and sequential art embodiments have included Egyptian tomb paintings, the traditional Stations of the Cross, and Bible comics from the last century. With the recent graphic novel boom, religious themes and interpretations abound, mostly summarized in a dozen or so popular books like Stephen Skelton's The Gospel According to Superheroes, Arie Kaplan's From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books, and Jeff Dunn and Adam Palmer's The Soul of Spider-Man: Unexpected Spiritual Insights from the Legendary Superhero. Graven Images appears to be the first to take a broader and more academic approach, collecting 21 essays from a conference of the same name held at Boston University. While most of the contributors have faculty appointments, five are comics creators. Themes range across religions and denominations, from expected topics (animistic and Christian themes in the manga/anime Nausicaä) to surprising ones (connections between religion and underground comics). VERDICT This varied and thoughtful collection invites more serious consideration of the medium thematically and hopefully presages additional conferences and collections. For all academic and larger public libraries.—M.C.
Very helpful introduction for any young (or seasoned) scholar interested in the relationship between religion and comic books.