Gods and monsters: the Bible gets a comic book makeover

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A detail from Genesis 3:1-2, in the Kingstone Bible. Photograph: Courtesy of Kingstone

There may be demons, plagues and the all horrors of the apocalypse, but there’s no room for any spandex superheroes in a graphic novel that its publishers are claiming is the longest ever produced. The only superpowers that feature in the 10,000 panels of the Kingstone Bible are wielded in the good fight, as the greatest story ever told gets a 12-volume comic-book adaptation.

Christian publisher Kingstone has been working on the project for seven years, using more than 45 illustrators to pull together what it is calling “the most complete graphic-novel adaptation of the Bible ever published”, at over 2,000 pages, in either 12 paperback volumes or three larger hardcover volumes.

Volume three of the Kingstone Bible. Photograph: Courtesy of Kingstone

Art Ayris, the founder of Kingstone, says the publisher plumped for the comics format because “the interplay of text and images allows one to convey a large amount of content in an abbreviated form”.

“A novice to religion who had never read the Bible before would be able to read through this graphic novel trilogy and have an understanding of some of the key narratives as well as key doctrines in the different books,” he says, “especially the Epistles. We have never seen this as a substitute for Bible reading but as a complement to help people ‘see’ the scriptures in a new light.”

Some of the books of the Bible were more difficult to adapt than others, Ayris admits, but artists were selected to fit the text. “For the book of Revelation we used a top horror artist who had been with Marvel, and it was a great fit for the powerful imagery in that book. Where we dealt with Bible reporting on major slaughter, rapes, adultery etc, we tried to honestly communicate but not be over the top with the graphic portrayals.”

Ayris says that Kingstone is aiming the Bible at preteen readers and young adults, but that the publisher’s largest social media demographic is males between the ages of 18 and 29.

“To a lot of people, the Bible is a big daunting book full of hard to pronounce names and seemingly unrelated stories. However, we come at it from the understanding that it is a document of divine revelation about the nature and character of God, his dealings with mankind, a chronicle of ancient history as well as a revelation of the future.”

Even though the Bible is constructed from 66 books it is “one unified story”, Ayris continues, a story the publisher has done its best to respect. “The Kingstone Bible may be a very unorthodox approach to scripture but we have tried to be very orthodox in theological constructs.”