2 out of 4 stars
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Whether or not you are a person with a strong religious (Christian or not) background, it is impossible to deny the impact that the gospel has had on human life as we know it over the last 2000+ years. The story of Jesus Christ has permeated Western culture to unprecedented levels and has significant influence on modern literature, film, music, and educational media. Even if you have no religious affiliation, you are likely still familiar, at least peripherally, with this work. That being said, even many of those that are well read into the bible’s teachings will likely admit that portions of these works are not easily approachable to the layman. This is where The Gospel in Zine form carves its niche for this classic tale.
The Gospel in Zine form by Aaron Trudgeon takes all four gospels and pulls them together into one comprehensive graphic novel telling the tale of Jesus Christ from two generations before his birth all the way to his resurrection. This very large work takes this massive tale and attempts to make it even more approachable to the Western layman through a graphic novel style of media. It combines much of the original text with modern colloquial dialogue attributed to the people involved, and enhances it with modern prose which explains the tale in a language the everyday reader will understand.
The graphic novel / zine is an excellent way to bring a very daunting set of texts to the modern generations. Through the use of images, colloquial dialogue, and modern prose, there is no longer any reason to avoid these quintessential Christian texts. Although not a standard format throughout the book, panels are often a combination of a direct quote from one of the gospels, an image, text bubbles coming out of the “character’s” mouths, and a narrator like description. This approach is excellent in that it keeps some of the important texts from throughout the four gospels, but makes it infinitely more approachable to a variety of modern audiences. The text bubbles are often hysterically colloquial allowing for a chuckle here and there without being disrespectful to the text. What I liked the most about this book was that it really isn’t a watered down version that doesn’t add to already existing works. It doesn’t shy away from providing the reader with a large tome (822 pages!!) that tells the tale in its entirety.
There are several things that really irked me about this book, however, and that unfortunately took away from my enjoyment of it. Most of these items deal directly with the images and texts used within the book. First, due to the massive size of this book (822 pages of images) I had difficulty reading this work on many of my devices. The Kindle cloud reader on all of my computers never did load the book and it took several attempts to get it onto my phone/tablet. Once on the phone and Kindle e-reader, some of the issues were difficult to read due to the size of the text and the amount crammed onto the page. Next, the fact that this book is an amalgamation of many different issues of the Ancient Wisdom Comics series means that there is extensive differences between the different issues. The graphic novel drawings of the “characters” in the issues differ from issue to issue (I assume because of different artists) and the fonts/text choices varied as well. Finally, and what I disliked the most about this book, was the variety of styles and types of images used within the book. To me, a successful graphic novel adopts an image style and sticks with it. The Gospel in Zine form uses a combination of well drawn characters, religious art, religious art interpretations, less-well drawn characters (given then impression they were thrown together in paint in a matter of minutes), line drawings (akin to indigenous cave-wall art), and even a photo of someone (that I assume the author knows) pasted into a drawing used more than once in the book. These different types of images were used throughout the book and many different types within individual issues. To me this quickly became distracting and quite frankly bothered me throughout the read.
After some internal reflection, I am forced to give this book 2 out of 4 stars. The difficulty that I had getting started reading the book, the different characters, and the haphazard imagery were distracting enough to me to merit a two star rating. The book didn’t receive a lower rating as I honestly believe in the format / approach that the author has taken for the book. The content and style chosen is a great way to bring the texts to a modern audience and if you can get past the shortfalls mentioned above, you can get a lot out of this book. If are looking for a fun, easy, and relaxed way to approach the archetypal story of the Christian faith, you might enjoy this book. If you have no interest in the story of the gospel, however, this book will not be for you.
The gospel in Zine form
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