Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I still salivate when I hear a spinner rack. It creates problems at the sunglass section of Walgreens.
I make no secret about my torrid love for the American comic book. It is a wellspring of endless desire that began when I was a mere lad, seeing a pulp fiction novel in the window of the "Five and Dime" in Leland, my senses went into overload and I've been hooked ever since.

Comic-con moment:Wolverine, mutant and funnel-cake eater, poses with Stan Lee,
originator of the X-Men and father of Marvel Comics. See what I miss when I don't go to Comic con?
I've often thought about going to the comic convention that is the mutha-of-all-comic book conventions. The Nerd Mecca known as San Diego Comic Con. It was this past weekend, and even though I didn't attend, I watched it on tv and listened on the radio. Oh, and I heard about the budget hearings and all that blah blah too but...did you know that HAWKEYE IS GONNA BE ON THE AVENGERS AND WHEDON IS DIRECTING? WOOOOOOT!!! ahem. Sorry.

So this item caught my eye today. Seems Pope Benedict is getting his own graphic novel. Officially, it's not a "comic book". It's manga. Manga is the Japanese art form that is like comic book art but the stories and the layouts are totally different. And, well, mostly girls like them. Little girls. Or those teenage girls with blue hair and thick framed glasses and Hello Kitty t-shirts.

Of course, this offering is for the World Youth Day crowd so maybe some boys will like it too. And not just the boys who wear Hello Kitty t-shirts but like boy-boys. Like real comic book loving boys. Who have regular haircuts and normal glasses and wear...umm...Green Lantern t-shirts.

The author, an American named John Lin, says of this book:
“I was born and raised Catholic. However, after high school, I started drifting away from my faith, getting caught up with what the world wants ... and what the world thinks will make me happy — recognition, wealth, career, etc. However, after attending World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia, I realized that while those worldly things are good, focusing my life just on these things didn’t make me any happier. That’s when I started to take my faith more seriously. “My spirituality is based on my ultimate purpose in life — to know, love and serve God. Following Jesus Christ is not meant to be easy, but there is a joy and peace that exists when living a life based on his teachings — to love one another as he loves us, to defend the life and dignity of every human being, to be a person for others.”

Read more:

When I was young, comics were a part of the Catholic experience. There were comics that were aimed at teaching children about the Mass and liturgy. Like this bit from an illustrated catechism.
Kids, you may see good ol' Fr. Paul up there but think of him as a bleeding, heart-burning version of the lead singer from "My Morning Jacket". Or I think that's what the caption said.

 The illustrated comics made the faith and all of its complex mysteries more accessible to children and young people. I paid better attention to big pictures with a few words. Still do. Which may explain a lot.

Not manga but a REAL COMIC BOOK
 There were comics that also were about the Saints. Even comics about St. Francis and John Paul II. By MARVEL comics no less!
And Francis was all "UHHHH" and Jesus was all "Pyew! Pyew! Pyew!" like zapping him.

In this truly visual era, maybe it's not such a bad idea to have a (girly) manga book for kids to read. The layout of manga is fast-paced and a bit technical. It still holds kids to reading something in print, so maybe there's some good to it. A perfect connection to literacy in the iGeneration*! It may be better catechesis than a thousand homilies or even this blog. Who knows? I may even pick up a copy myself. When I get my blue hair dye.

*I just made that term up "iGeneration". It's kinda cute, right?