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Blog / The Word for WORD Bible Comic: An Interview with Simon Amadeus Pillario

The Word for WORD Bible Comic: An Interview with Simon Amadeus Pillario

Simon Amadeus PillarioNot all comics are funny. The comic genre known as graphic novels emphasizes drama, adventure, character development, and striking visuals. Such is the case with Simon Amadeus Pillario’s (pen name) dream of creating a complete, word-for-word Bible comic.

Bible Gateway interviewed Pillario (@WforWBibleComic) about his ambitious venture.

What is the Word for WORD Bible Comic?

Pillario: The Word for WORD Bible Comic is a hard hitting, unabridged graphic novel of the Bible that’s historically accurate with a high view of Scripture. I’m currently working on the Book of Judges.

The real unique selling point is the unabridged element: unlike other comic renditions of the Bible, this one will be completely unabridged. All the words (even “he said” and descriptive elements) are still included in the comic but subtly in the ‘gutters.’ These generally appear as dark grey on medium grey. The intention is that if you’re reading it as a comic, you could ignore these phrases. However if you want to see what the Bible text includes they’re present and legible.

What unabridged means in the Word for WORD Bible Comic

Unabridged also means no parts of the stories are overlooked or avoided (for example, the Levite’s concubine (Judges 19), Jepthah’s sacrifice (Judges 12), or brides for the Danites (Judges 21). All parts of the story are important (1 Timothy 3:16) and, in my experience, it’s the details that help you understand the full story and characters.

What age level is it for?

Pillario: This graphic novel will not shy away from any issue the Bible addresses. Unfortunately, due to the corruption of mankind, these issues include violence, kidnapping, cold-blooded murder, and even rape and infanticide. This work will not glamorize evil of any kind, nor will it be explicit or dwell on these things, but it will cover all the lessons that the Bible teaches. As a result I’m recommending an age restriction of fifteen.

What need do you see that this comic will meet?

Pillario: When I became a committed Christian at the age of 22, I read the Bible properly for the first time and was amazed at the provocative tales of corrupted man and an uncompromising God. These adult stories of a powerful messiah were not what I remembered from Sunday school. Reading through the Book of Samuel was like reading a Game of Thrones novel and so I became very excited about reading the Bible. There’s a big gap between Bible-based comics and storybooks for kids, and the real harsh texts of the book we read as adults.

One of the needs this comic will meet is to reach the rapidly increasing comic fan base with God’s Word as I believe non-Christians will be happy to read the Bible if it’s in a dramatic comic style.

Another objective is to improve biblical understanding and engage young and new Christians (and old ones too, hopefully). I had a good quote about this in a review of the comic by Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith (author of Understanding the Books of the Bible Study Guides) who says in his review,

“One might argue that W4W is actually a more authentic presentation of the Bible than our bare printed texts, which invite us to fill a visual vacuum by supplying pictures in our own imagination of people and events. We tend to do this as if they happened in our own time and place, or else in a generic “Bible world” where nothing really changes culturally from Abraham to Paul. W4W instead brings the reader very authentically back into the specific cultural world in which each story originated, through careful archaeological research.”

How image elements relate to the Bible and history in the Word for WORD Bible Comic

Why does your Bible comic have the potential of being controversial?

Pillario: Ha, yes, as it seems you can’t do much in Christian circles without inviting controversy. This comic will be violent because it is an accurate portrayal of the Bible. When humans go to war and murder one another it tends to be violent and bloody. If people are uncomfortable with this, there are other age-appropriate Bible comics for children. But we live in a violent and dangerous world and the Bible helps us understand it.

There is a level to which there could be healthy contretemps as I challenge unbiblical Christian tradition or assumptions with accurate biblical exegesis. For example, in the work I’ve already completed, Samson is not a muscle bound giant of a man but an average-sized man with powerful spiritual gifting.

Samson in the Word for WORD Bible Comic

I’m trying to do everything I can to ensure the theology is completely accurate and in line with sound orthodox Christian doctrine and the whole council of Scripture. This includes listening and responding to feedback in future issues, if ever I do accidentally represent something in a way that’s considered dishonoring to God or of poor theology. Please be assured I’m more concerned about the “Author” being displeased with the work I do than any critique or displeasure from the fans.

How do you draw intangible Bible truths in a comic?

Pillario: If you mean angels and God, I’m not planning to depict God the Father in any human form. It may be necessary to show him one day in Isaiah 6 or Revelation 4, but this wil be more likely as a being of pure light rather than a white-bearded old man. The Holy Spirit, gifts of the Spirit, and other unseen things of spirit are represented throughout the comic with a bright turquoise color. For example, when the angel stands in front of Balaam’s donkey for the first time, it’s invisible to Balaam. In this comic series the angel in that case would be a turquoise line image to show his presence but invisibility. Angels that are not manifesting in human form will be portrayed in line with descriptions found in Revelation, Isaiah 6, and Ezekiel visions—not guys with feathery wings!

If however you mean the longer themes, such as God’s faithfulness and long suffering love of a hopeless race, then these will have to be meditated on by the reader as with the unillustrated Bible.

What Bible translation will you use?

Pillario: Whatever translation I use will be of modern language and as true to the original text as possible. I hope I will attain the rights to use the New King James Version (NKJV) or the New International Version (NIV) as they’re trusted and well known. But for the first edition, I’m planning to use the excellent World English Bible (WEB) translation (which I discovered using Bible Gateway, by the way). It’s a good option because it’s the reliable American Standard Version (ASV) with updated language and it’s completely in the public domain.

Explain your Kickstarter campaign.

Pillario: Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website where you present your concept and people pledge to give you money if you hit your full funding goal. Backers get rewards based on their level of contribution. If the goal is not hit within the time scale, the project gets nothing. My goal is £15,000 ($25,416) which is the amount of money (after deductions) that I’ll use to draw the comic full time for the next 12 months. On the panel to the right, you can see the percentage that it’s funded to date and how long there is to go (it ends on Sunday May 25th at 21:00 GMT), so if people want to see this comic become a reality, I really need them to pledge using my Kickstarter page and partner with me in serving the Lord in this way.

Bio: Simon Amadeus Pillario, a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, became a committed Christian through a powerful encounter with God at a local Alpha course in 2005. He’s training to be a small group leader in his local Newfrontiers church. He’s been working on the research and the first part of the comic for the last six years in his own time and he’s now hoping to make it his full time calling. Simon Amadeus Pillario lives with his wife and two children in Bristol, UK.

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