Are we twenty-first-century Catholics in the middle of an exciting renaissance of the Christian creative genius? It seems so. Thanks to social media and crowdfunding sites, it is easier than ever for independent artists, musicians, and writers to share their work with audiences who are hungering to be entertained and inspired. Even comic books are experiencing a resurgence in popularity and cultural influence, thanks in large part to the success of big-budget Hollywood franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As Voyage Comics founder Philip Kosloski and I discussed in a recent interview for Word on Fire, the comic book scene is currently dominated by secular voices, but Christian comic creators have never been better poised to evangelize the culture through this dynamic literary and artistic medium.
Very recently, I had the pleasure of reading a new comic book, Chronicles of Faith: David, that, through its gorgeous artwork and dynamic storytelling, retells the familiar story of King David in a way that will especially appeal to younger readers. There seems to be a growing interest among comic book writers in adapting David’s story. For example, Terminus Media’s ongoing series Dominion: Fall of the House of Saul chronicles the epic events of 1 Samuel in a space-fantasy setting sure to please fans of Star Wars and Dune.
This fascination with David shouldn’t be too surprising, as he is one of the most pivotal figures in the Old Testament. David prefigures Jesus in many significant and profound ways. Jesus is Christos, the Messiah, God’s anointed, just as David was anointed as king of Israel by the prophet Samuel under God’s direction. Chronicles of Faith provides an easy route of access to kids (of all ages) into the rich biblical tradition, and the choice to start with David’s story was a masterstroke.
Illustrations are often key to the success of any comic book title. While tastes among comic fans can vary subjectively, I have found that one of the easiest ways to put off potential new readers of an indie comic is with poor or sloppy artwork. Happily, the team behind Chronicles of Faith has delivered an absolutely stunning first issue! The style has a certain Saturday-morning-cartoon vibe and even a few touches reminiscent of Japanese anime. The illustrations and layout are energetic and fluid, propelling the story forward at a brisk pace that is sure to engage children and adults alike. The inks, colors, and lettering are also superb. All of this combines to make a beautiful comic book and an entertaining reading experience.
Most of the action takes place in flashback, as King David relates tales of his youth to his son Solomon. David advises the young prince that if he (and the reader) pay close attention they will also learn more about the nature of God. David’s story, like all of Scripture, is really the epic chronicle of God’s relationship with humanity. Unsurprisingly, Chronicles of Faith is thoroughly steeped in Scripture. Psalm 23 and the parable of the lost sheep are referenced throughout. The theme of absolute confidence and trust in God through the power of prayer is front and center in this story. The issue ends on a bit of a cliffhanger that will leave kids wanting more and those readers already familiar with 1 Samuel eager to see an important moment in salvation history play out.
Comic books may be the perfect medium to introduce the next generation of children to the Bible. Potentially, comic books like Chronicles of Faith: David could replace—or at least provide a sound alternative to—the often generic and bland “picture Bibles” that many of us grew up on. I heartily recommend this comic as an entertaining and engaging all-ages retelling of the David story and am eagerly anticipating future issues.