Bibles created in comic book form have not been anything new. There have been multiple variations and styles appeasing all sorts of audiences and demographics from children to adults. In November of 2016, to my own surprise, I came across The Kingstone Comics website and I was surprised by their incredible selection of comics that were offered.
While Art Ayris is the initial writer and general editor, as always with comic book Bibles, it is not a one man effort. A massive team put together this 700+ page offering; And to think this is just the first volume of three that will be explored. What is incredible about Kingstone's rise to becoming the largest Christian comics publisher in the world, was their incredibly difficult journey to get there. The trials and tribulations, particularly of Ayris took several forms. From near death experiences, financial issues, and publishing errors; to key staff members quitting, and serious health issues of Ayris. Kingstone's journey as they would say, "escalated to an epic voyage through torpedo filled waters." Despite all these torpedos of challenges, God guided them through it all as they were able to successfully publish The Kingstone Bible in three volumes. You can read their full story HERE
The Kingstone Bible claims to be the most complete graphic adaptation of the Bible ever done; and I would agree with that. This thing is a beast! This is not a comic that can easily be held. It honestly needs to be laid on your lap or on a table. The only other comic that even dares come close in content would be the Action Bible, but that barely equates to just one of Kingstone's three volumes. This basically means The Kingstone Bible has three times the content of The Action Bible.
The cover is a stunning collage consisting of the Bible's widely known characters and historical events of Moses, Job, Samson, Joseph, etc. While all three volumes chronologically explain Genesis to Revelation, I need to stress that this is not an actual Bible; nor is it meant to be a substitute for any Bible for that matter. However, The Kingstone Bible encourages readers to compare its work against the actual words of scripture, and hopes that it will draw readers to a deeper understanding of the Holy Scriptures.
Aside from its stunning illustrations to help readers understand the Bible more easily, I appreciated how The Kingstone Bible brought up details that I often overlooked when reading an actual Bible. For example I did not know Abraham had another wife after Sarah. I did not know that Job had 10 more children after he lost his initial 10. I knew that Abraham lied once about Sarah being his sister rather than his wife, but I did not know he lied twice. To further that, I also did not realize that Abraham's son Isaac commits the same lie with his own wife Rebekah. I knew that Moses split the Red Sea, but I did not know that the Israelites crossed the Jordan River with the ark of the covenant by halting the water. I had no idea that David pretended to act crazy to help him escape death. These are the little things I appreciated from reading this first volume. The Kingstone Bible also deserves credit for not shying away or hiding the gore and violence that was part of the Old Testament. However, it handles it all in a respectful way that should not be disturbing or uncomfortable for the reader. One last thing I appreciated was the timeline they offer to help the reader understand when these events took place in relation to other historic events.
It is clear that as readers progress, the artistic style changes. This makes sense as it would be way too much work for one artist to do alone. However, the styles are sometimes so drastically different, I honestly thought I was reading a different comic book which is not something a reader should feel. This also applied with how God's voice was portrayed which I found to be odd as well. The text for God's voice would be displayed in different ways which is something that could have remained consistent despite having different artists. I also felt that some more extra detailed boxes could have been used in more areas to help provide context to the reader of the timeframe, the many characters, the relation they have, their actions, and the culture and traditions of the time. There was moments where I felt lost and I didn't know what was going on and why certain events were happening.
The Kingstone Bible has so far been fairly accurate in its first volume with its scriptural references. While it struggles at times with explaining events in greater detail, I didn't find any major inaccuracies when I crossed referenced some of its illustrations. It is certainly worth buying for its beautiful drawings, but it comes with its trade-offs. Its massive textbook size and weight may not be appealing or create an enjoyable reading experience. Kingstone does offer their comic book app to solve this problem, but of course, the reader misses out on the true comic book experience of being able to enjoy and appreciate the physical printed artwork. No matter which format the reader chooses, it is easily the most comprehensive graphic adaptation of the Bible that can be enjoyed by children and even adults.
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