A Catholic's Guide to Quality Graphic Novels that are Pro-Christian
The writers and artists of the comic book industry are attempting to produce respectable literature. The comic companies are putting out what are called graphic novels, long form comics, frequently with pretensions of being literature. Stan Lee admitted that his work on Marvel superheroes in the early 60's was not Shakespeare, and the modern graphic novels are not Shakespeare either, but they are a lot closer.
Many of the modern graphic novels are anti-religious, but a few are not. A few writers are attempting to be the graphic novel equivalent of Dostoevsky, or Gramm Green. This is a discussion of some to the best efforts without superheroes so far.
Graphic Novels are a bit expensive as entertainment and dedicated Catholics probably should read the spiritual works of the saints for inspiration, but graphic novels can help us reach out to young people. This is particularly true because librarians are adding graphic novels to their young adult collections.
You might want to suggest or donate religious graphic novels to your library. If you are interested in getting Catholic or Christian comics into public libraries this link covers the topic along with how to get other Catholic books into library collections.
Some parents, grandparents, Godparents, aunts and uncles also might want to use these for hard to reach children. And youth ministers might want to have a collection to be lent out. Parochial school libraries and parish libraries are other possibilities, and even public school libraries are adding graphic novels.
Creature TechCreature Tech. by Doug Temnepel maybe the best of the bunch. This is fantasy and science fiction. Some of the science fiction is pretty silly, giant space eels. But along with the silly adventure story is the conversion story of the scientist hero. The scientist's father was formerly a scientist but now works as a preacher. The scientist began his studies at a seminary but dropped out and became a non-believing scientist. This is a story of his return to faith. The scientist is the type of complex, intelligent, and interesting character that you do not expect in a comic, and by the standards of comics Creature Tech is excellent.
Careful Catholics should be warned that one of the characters makes a couple of cracks about gullible Catholics. He is the proprietor of a small, dishonest, roadside, museum, and he hopes to make money by cheating the type of Catholic who thinks a paint spill looks like the Virgin Mary. But as this character is not admirable it is not clear that the comic is anti-Catholic. If a villain is anti-Catholic that does not usually make a work of fiction anti-Catholic, if the hero is anti-Catholic then that normally means that the fiction is anti-Catholic.
On the other hand, the Shroud of Turin plays a major role in the story and it is assumed that it is authentic and has healing powers. This might be considered pro Catholic.
The heroic father of the scientist is clearly a Protestant preacher. Of course, as Priests normally do not have biological children it would have been difficult to tell the same story with Catholic clergy.
Nevertheless, while the author says he is a Christian, I assume he is not Catholic, so we might want to proceed with caution.
Creature Tech should be of interest only to older teens and adults, it is too sophisticated to be of great use with children. I would be more concerned about the possibly anti-Catholic aspects with children.
You can find Creature Tech on Amazon.com. List price is $18, Amazon price is $13, other sellers on Amazon offer it for $8.72, of course, you have to add shipping. Creature Tech is 208 pages, a paperback in black and white. Unfortunately, our library's copy several years ago tended to lose pages. But they still have a copy, perhaps they got one with better binding, I will have to check this out.
I read my public library's copy, with the rapid spread of graphic novels in public libraries it may be available in your library system soon. Perhaps you should suggest it, especially for the young adult or adult section.
Doug Tennapel has written a number of other graphic novels since Creature Tech. A couple of them are at my public library. I hope to read those. Perhaps, they will add to my list of suggestions.
Pakkin's Land: Paul's AdventureThere is another fantasy graphic novel called Pakkin's Land: Paul's Adventure by Gary and Rhoda Shipman. This has received some very good reviews. Entertainment this Month says, "Pakkin's Land is destined for greatness! Highest possible recommendation". In some ways Pakkin's Land is trying to be sophisticated, sort of like the C.S. Lewis Narnia series. The author is trying to do something quite sophisticated but I do not feel it comes off that well. On the other hand, it has gotten good reviews, and perhaps some awards. So what do I know, while I have read a few issues of the comic I have not read the whole graphic novel. It feels Protestant but nothing I have read was anti-Catholic.
Both the list price and the Amazon price is $15.95 for a paperback 144 pages long, in black and white. It may be available through many public library systems. Once again you might want to suggest it.
VisitationsVisitations by Scott Morris is Catholic. It has a priest and a statue of the Virgin Mary. This is a collection of three stories, sort of bump in the night, twist ending stories. It is not for little children. The writing is quite sophisticated. The are is not very realistic but will appeal to some sophisticated tastes. You can evaluate the art by looking at the cover art on Amazon.com.
Visitations list and Amazon price is $8.95, for 96 pages in black and white.
Astro CityI am not sure Astro City is exactly pro-Christian, but at least it is fairly friendly to Christianity and traditional values. Once again this is a little different because many sophisticated graphic novels can be distinctly unfriendly.
Astro City is a series of graphic novels by Kurk Busiek. The first one has a blurb on it that says it has life affirming values. Perhaps that is a good way to put it. This is a sophisticated superhero series about a city where people with extra powers are fairly commonplace. Of the sophisticated superhero series I have seen it may be the most friendly to Christianity.
Blind ProphetI have recently received the first part of a new Catholic graphic novel Blind Prophet. I have found it powerful. It most certainly does not pull any punches.
It is also a really interesting initiative. What we have is a blind boy with special powers that are generally in line with Catholic/Christian teaching. It is quite a bit different from anything I have read before. The first teen I showed it too said, "This is awsome." I will continue to try it with various people.
The writer is Joseph Cillo and the artist is Gabriel Santiago. You can find Blind Prophet Part 1 on Amazon. It is 112 pages long and costs $13.99.
Catholic Comics pages
I last updated this November 17, 2003.