The comic-book industry isn't known for communicating spiritual truth. In fact, mainstream comics have backslidden a ways since the days of Archie and the original Spiderman. Walls in many comic-book stores are lined with covers drawn by illustrators whose sexually provocative creations are intended to tempt young men to hand over their minds and their cash. Comic-book conventions reach a seamier level, as fans line up to meet porn stars.
But now, some Christians are creating comics and graphic novels that communicate God's truth. Comic-book writers like Jim Krueger and the creative team at Metron Press-a division of the American Bible Society in New York-are translating Christianity into language that they hope will be relevant and attractive to today's comic-book readers.
To date, Metron Press has published two graphic novels that retell Bible stories for contemporary audiences-high school to post-college-age readers. Samson was released in 2002, and Testament, based on the stories of the Old Testament, last fall. The books show God at work, even amidst the treachery and violence of the Old Testament. "Metron would like to get the Word out to people who wouldn't normally read the Word,'' says Mario Ruiz, Metron Press's Editorial and Creative Director. "You have people who would never pick up a Bible and here they are reading a Bible story. It's done in a way that's not preachy. We're not trying to shove a Bible down anyone's throat. We're just trying to tell a story and leave it up to the reader to make up his own mind."
Krueger, 37, has written more than 100 comic books, including the Marvel Comics epic trilogy Earth-X, which features Spiderman, the Hulk, and Marvel's other cast of superheroes. In a genre that's known for sex and violence, Krueger's faith inspires thoughtful stories that communicate life-giving truth. Some of his writing, like Testament, is overtly biblical. Other works communicate Christian truths mainly through their themes and metaphors.
Craig Detweiler, an associate professor of mass communication at Biola University and an admirer of Krueger's work, said his stories are an "unlikely and surprising means" that God uses to speak to humanity.
"God has spoken through burning bushes, through donkeys-and now through comics books," Detweiler says. "A new generation of artists, writers, filmmakers and comic-book theologians are communicating eternal truths.''