A Catholic Guide to Bible Comics
This is currently being rewritten May 14 2018.
This is a Catholic guide to Bible comics most of which are done by Protestants. There is not much objectionable in them, I provide warnings when I have found a problem, but I have only read one from cover to cover.
Let me note that comic book Bibles are almost always not Bibles. They are collections of Bible stories. They leave a lot out. This is done to save space but also to make the material more appropriate for their target audience, children. This site also has a page on Comics by and for Catholics and long form sophisticated comics called graphic novels which support the Christian faith I also have an index page on comics for Catholics, a page on how to convince your public library to include religious comics and other media in the collection, and two successful letters which got ten comic book Bibles in public library branches.
The Life of JesusThis maybe the beginning of an actual Catholic Comic book Bible. Let me
The Action BibleThe Action Bible is the most popular of the current Bible Comics. It has sold over a million copies, and is 335 on Amazon's best seller list as of this writing. Of those books that were published over five years ago The Action Bible is forty first as of this writing. I am talking about among all books. Come to think of it Easter is tomorrow, so normally it would not be this high but it is very high.
I have not read all of it yet, but so far I have found little to object too. Like all the other Comic Book Bibles put out by the Protestants it does not include the deuterocanonical books. However, it does suggest that miracles in what the Protestants call the Intertestimental period are authentic.
So far it seems to be a rather Catholic friendly Protestant Bible.
The Action Bible is about 750 pages long and relatively inexpensive at $16.39 for the hard cover on Amazon. The Kindle is $9.20.
You can evaluate The Action Bible through the Amazon Look Inside feature. You can view much of the first 170 pages of the book for free. Surely enough to make an intelligent decision.
Here is the link to The Action Bible on Amazon.
The Picture BibleThe Picture Bible is published by the David C. Cook Publishing, the same company that published The Action Bible. The length, and price are quite similar. The Action Bible was intended to replace The Picture Bible and has done so quite successfully.
Still for what it is worth here is the link to The Picture Bible on Amazon.
As a Catholic I found little to object to in The Picture Bible. It does have one page which deals with what they call the intertestamental period. 1st and 2nd Maccabees, which are part of the Catholic Bible, are in this intertestamental period. So this implies that 1st and 2nd Maccabees are not part of the Bible. The fact that the other deuterocanonical books are not included might imply the same thing. But as this is for children who probably would not notice this. Most Catholic parents would probably see this as only a slight problem.
People have objected because The Picture Bible includes a couple of very short pious tales about Abraham that are not in the scripture. These are a bit aggravating, but the message is usually something uncontroversial like trust God. The Picture Bible originally came out in installments. I suspect they got complaints. In the rest of the book they stuck closely to the actual text of the Bible.
It was also pointed out to me in my guest book that the Picture Bible gives the ten commandments in their Protestant form, combining the two covet commandments. Same commandments just a little different numbering system.
As The Picture Bible has been such a big success it is not surprising that it comes in many different formats which you can find at Amazon, and that are frequently available at Bible bookstores. It is 800 pages long, the pages are in color and a little smaller than a normal comic. The list price for a hardback is about 20 dollars, 14 at Amazon. The list price for paperback is about 18 dollars, 12.60 at Amazon. This is an amazingly cheap price per page. Comics these days are averaging about twenty cents a page the Picture Bible in its cheaper forms is about a cent and a half per page.
Heroes of the BibleThere is also a comic book Bible called Heroes of the Bible. by Carolyn Larsen. It is done in an artistic style that is now popular in superhero comics. The men all look like they have been lifting weights. Even if their muscles are not large, they are well defined. Like some teenagers, everyone is constantly angry, even Jesus is rarely at peace.
Heroes of the Biblewas done by Evangelical Protestants and goes out of its way to say that Mary had other children and interprets the feast of Canna as a conflict between Jesus and Mary. There are two objectionable pages out of about 400. For home and church use you could simply felt tip over a few words.
Heroes of the Bible is not aimed at children, and Catholic parents who are trying to reach children would have little reason to choose it over The Action Bible or Iva Hoth's The Picture Bible. The style of Heroes of the Bible does appeal to older teenage boys and young adults. In my local public library Heroes of the Bible is very successful in the young adult, read teen, section. The Picture Bible was not so successful in the young adult section, but was very successful in the children's section. It could be argued that Catholic teens are able to understand that other churches believe different things about the Virgin Mary.
We can complain about how other churches treat our theology, but it does bring us back to the point of why we have not produced our own comic book Bible. After all, half the world's Christians are Catholic, but the Protestant minority has produced many comic book Bibles while we have produced none. We prefer to use theirs and produce comics on the Saints and other specifically Catholic topics.
Heroes of the Bible retails new at Amazon for 10 to 11 dollars and is about 400 pages long in full color. The pages are a little smaller than an ordinary comic. It is not quite as cheap per page as The Picture Bible but it is much cheaper than most other comics secular or religious.
The Comic Book BibleThe The Comic Book Bible by Robert Suggs is done in a soft friendly cartoon style. Some teen girls may find this appealing and it might be appealing to young children. There is a very popular children's picture Bible in the same general style. When I polled a group of younger children none liked The Comic Book Bible's style best. All preferred Iva Hoth's The Picture Bible If you are only buying one comic book Bible there is little reason to prefer The Comic Book Bible other than its low price, $7.99 in full color. But as it is much shorter than the others, only 264 pages long, the price per page is not quite as cheap as the two discussed above. On the other hand, if you are putting together a library for kids you might want to add this one in addition to the others. I have not noted anything controversial about it.
Manga MessiahWe have a special word for Japanese comics, they are called Manga, even in America. Manga are done in a special style which is the same as Japanese animation, which we call anime in America. There are a huge number of anime and manga fans in America.
I bought the Manga Messiah. The Manga Messiah is 288 pages long and has a recommended retail price of thirteen dollars.
While Heroes of the Bible may be oriented toward the male teen, this is perhaps slanted toward the female teen. Manga and anime are particularly popular with teenage girls. I polled a number of children at church and they liked this style of drawing.
I have read about 75 pages of the 288 so let me provide a preliminary report. The traditions of Manga at times provide a vibe that is a bit different from what we might normally expect with a Bible story. Mary is shown as a really cute, chipper teen. She is a lot like a typical anime good girl. Joseph is a cute teen also.
Also in line with Manga traditions people have a wide range of emotions. When they get excited a picture is shown that does not look much like the character, just a face screaming.
While some may object to these manga conventions, the more evangelical Catholics will probably accept these things because the Manga style is very popular with many young people and this might well be read where other Bibles, even other comic book Bibles will not.
What follows is some short notes on Comic Bibles I have not bought.
Other Manga BiblesThere seems to be a whole collection of manga Bibles, or at least manga Bible Stories available now. You can check Amazon under Manga Bibles.
The Illustrated BibleThere is a new comic Bible coming out that gives the full text of the Bible but puts the dialogue in word ballons. This is very different. About half way between the other comics listed on this page and the real thing.
The Lion Graphic BibleThe Lion Graphic Bible Illustrated by Jeff Anderson with dialog by Mike Maddox is 256 pages fully painted. This is a fancy form of illustration. The reviews on Amazon say that this is a visually stunning book. The paperback edition lists at $16.95, the Amazon price is $11.87. Sounds interesting, perhaps I should get this one.
Picture Stories from the Bible: The Old Testament in Full-Color Comic-Strip FormThis is part of a two volume set, the other one is obviously the New Testament.This comic book bible does not have word balloons like the first three discussed above. The words are at the bottom of each picture. Other than that it is a comic book type book. There are many pictures on each of the large pages. The Old Testament is $20 for 222 pages and the New Testament is $16 but Amazon does not say how many pages. Both volumes are in hard cover.
There are various other comic books that cover part of the Bible, perhaps I will get to some of them at a future date.
If you want more Christian entertainment for yourself, your family, or even your community, I have a couple of web pages on religious movies: a list of religious movies nominated for major Oscars and tips on getting libraries to include Catholic movies in their video collections.