Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, Vol 7, No 2 (2011)

Jesus in the Gutter: Comics and Graphic Novels Reimagining the Gospels

Scott S. Elliott
Issued Date: 20 Aug 2014

Abstract


Graphic novels and comics have long provided a venue for visually portraying biblical narratives. While some provide a clever hook for devotees to capture the imagination in order to safely entertain the existing flock or to entice would-be converts into the fold, others are not concerned primarily with any “faithful” visual rendering of biblical narrative. These productions interrogate and/or appropriate biblical narrative in a variety of ways while maintaining a high degree of fidelity to the requirements of the art form and to the expectations of its readers. This article investigates two works focused on the figure of Jesus, both of which share and exploit the iconoclastic nature and marginal status of the genre, and find in the figure of Jesus a narrative and character uniquely befitting of the form. While neither aims to render Jesus directly, each manages to capture something of both the discursive aspects of the gospel literature, and perhaps something of whatever counter-cultural message and disposition the historical Jesus may have had. Moreover, each manipulates the closure that readers provide through recourse to the familiar biblical text. I contend that these productions faithfully, if ironically, refract the subversive potential of both the biblical narrative and the figure of Jesus precisely by their infidelity to what might be loosely described as a more orthodox Christ.

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DOI: 10.1558/post.v7i2.123

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