One of the questions I get asked most is how Bible stories could ever be told in manga. It is one of the reasons why The Manga Bible created such controversy when it was published in 2007; manga’s press-inspired notoriety. 15 translations later, following on from The Manga Bible, another graphic novel was published, titled, The Manga Jesus. The press, of course, exploited its manga credentials; New York Times’ editorial titled, ‘The Bible as Graphic Novel, With a Samurai Stranger Called Jesus Christ’, Wired and The Times’, ‘Religious superheroes come back fighting in a Manga comic book’. Of course as the author of both TMB and TMJ, I played no small role in accentuating the superhero/samurai elements expected from manga media, but from my point of view, accentuating those aspects was crucial as a means of reminding the public of the bible’s capacity to capture a generation’s imagination. To the most popular question asked of me by journalists, ‘Is the bible compatible with manga... isn’t manga violent?’ I replied, ‘There’s actually more violence in the bible than in any single collection of manga books...’, then I would add, ‘... of course, the bible is the story of when God met humanity. When that happens, the proverbial hits the fan.’
The story of humanity is one long history in violence and no authentic study of human history can do justice to the study of humanity without a journey into the narrative of violence. But this is where I part ways with the press. For me, manga is not about conflict, but about conflict resolution. Manga is a cathartic response to Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s atomic annihilation towards the end of WWII. Manga is the story of survivors of an apocalypse of biblical proportions. As the Jews tried to resolve their apocalypse at the hand of the antichrist, the Japanese try to resolve their new reality after The Bomb, hence the robust narrative style of Revelation, Job, Daniel and Manga; manga’s spectrum spanning every conceivable genre imaginable from Hentai to Shojo (the press promote the monster-raping-school-girls genres while ignoring the fluffy girly genres).
It is exactly that sort of genre expanse that makes manga so appropriate for telling stories from the Bible because the bible’s mission statement is one of identity-definition-after-crisis. Of course, the public are not aware of manga’s breath extending into film, music, theatre and fashion. With anime for example, following directly from manga’s cheap post war production costs (pulp paper and black/white production), anime have in turn developed fast moving economy of animation which inspires new ways of crafting scenes as seen in The Matrix, Sucker Punch, Serenity and dozens of other manga influenced films produced in the West. These narrative trajectories have in many ways demonstrated the possibilities with a project like TMJ. Can you imagine the story of Jesus told with energy, pace, attitude, power, texture, and passion that surpass animation projects seen in recent times? This is what we intend to do with The Manga Jesus anime.
Siku, artist, author, theologian and musician is the creator of The Manga Bible and The Manga Jesus books. A best seller in the UK and the USA, it is Currently sold in 17 countries including Indonesia, Brazil, France, China and South Korea. It has proved a major success. Prior to creating The Manga Bible books, Siku was one of Britain’s leading comic book creator/conceptualists, having worked for2000AD; producing titles such as Judge Dredd, Slaine and a strip he co-created called Pan-African Judges. He has also worked for Marvel UK and COM X and has been credited on a number of computer games such as Evil Genius as Visuals Director. Recently, Siku has been experimenting with narrative preaching (preaching while painting) while producing a Liquid Bible Course based on The Manga Bible and a visual commentary project on Psalm 27. Siku is married to Bell and ‘works’ from his Tardis in Essex with a bronzedcrunchyafrolock-haired 4 year old toddler who thinks daddy actually works.
"The Manga Jesus Complete", and "The Manga Bible". Created by Siku, published by Hodder & Stoughton. You can purchase them on-line at Amazon.co.uk