Thursday, March 01, 2012
Christ and Comics
It’s Tyndale House’s Manga series, available in four books, with another on the way. “Manga Messiah” presents the gospel stories with Jesus referred to as Yeshuah, and Joseph and Mary are Yosef and Miryam. “Manga Metamorphosis” illustrates the book of Acts. “Manga Mutiny” goes back to the Old Testament and retells the stories of Genesis. “Manga Melech” continues the Old Testament stories from the Exodus to the stories of David. “Manga Messengers,” due out in September, will continue the story telling the tales of the kings and prophets of Judah and Israel.It's a bit of a cheat to raise the question and pose nothing int he form of an answer. There is also a real lack of information about manga in the piece, that helps answer the questions.
I wonder if Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” idea is in play here. Is the medium so distracting that it sends a different message than what the content is trying to teach? I’m all for God’s people claiming all things for God and redeeming all things, but are some means of communication too tainted? Whether it’s books, theater, movies, music, animation or television, is there a forum or genre that has too much negative stuff attached to it that makes it unusable for Christians to use to tell the Biblical story? Or is it all good?
First thing to note is the presumption that manga, and comics generally, is an inherently childish style of communication. Some comics are quire sophisticated and wholly unsuitable for children. Manga most especially. Though harder to obtain in the United States, true Japanese manga is often horribly violent and not just sexual, but perversely so.
But that said,this is hardly new - people have been using images to communicate the gospel for pretty much as long as there has been a gospel - Christ used parables for crying out loud! There is nothing inherently wrong with this. Icons and imagery kept the gospel living through periods of great illiteracy.
Manga is; however, a cultural shift. From the stylized art to the story telling to the very conflict at the heart of the stories (at least in genuine manga of Japanese origin) manga is quite a different form than American comics. The rise in the popularity of manga in this country is a marked adaptation of Japanese culture.
So, is this manga gospel a good idea? Well it will shift culture in the church. Personally, church culture is in upheaval already, so....