Tag Archives: Bible

Action!

A couple of posts ago I told you I’m having trouble with the dialogue between Job and his comforters. Though I stick pretty closely to the conversation as it unfolds through Chapters 11 – 31 (each chapter gets summarized down to one or two short lines), there doesn’t seem to be a build-up to a punchline. For this to work as a comic, the tension should build to a climax just before the next scene, when a new character enters.

One solution is to add some action, although there is none during this sequence in the Bible. I thought about how Job’s three comforters could literally beat up on Job while they interpret Holy Writ. I’ll have these scholars bring their scripture with them. I drew a quick sketch of Bildad hitting Job over the head with a scroll. I like it a little better than just heads talking for two pages.

If you’ve seen the Broadway musical West Side Story, you’ll remember the Officer Krupke number. The gang members sing about how the system has failed them, from the police to the courts to the social worker to the psychiatrist. Each hits one juvenile delinquent with a rolled up newspaper as they condemn him: “The trouble is he’s lazy (smack!); the trouble is he drinks (smack!); the trouble is he’s crazy (smack!); the trouble is he stinks (smack!)”

Could something like this work for my comic about Job?

Bad Things 4

After letting this sketch sit awhile, I’ve decided I need to rework it. The content of the dialogue is a drastic shorthand of what’s in each chapter of Job—as if I tried to reduce each chapter to a single 140-character Tweet. So it more or less follows along with the book. All four characters say pretty much what they say in the Bible. But…it doesn’t feel right yet. It needs something. The conversation doesn’t lead up to a climax.

I’m not sure what I need to do.

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Zophar, so good!

More from my Book of Job project—a sketch of Job’s pal Zophar who came to comfort Job in his hour of need. Job sits in a dung heap and scrapes at his loathsome boils with a potsherd (a piece of broken pottery), while he wonders where it all went wrong.

Bad Things 3

Yet another sketch from the Book of Job comic I’m working on.

Even after being afflicted with horrible, disgusting, festering boils, Job refuses to curse God. He tears his robe, shaves his head and goes to sit in the ash-heap—taking a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself with.

Bad Things 2

Here’s one of the most surprising things about The Book of Job—the Lord and Satan appear together as if on the stage of a morality play. To top that, Satan makes a bet with the Lord—that deprived of his wealth, Job would curse God.

I’m trying to keep the dialogue here somewhat casual & conversational—after all, one point of this comic is to make Job’s story easier to read. I have God say: “How about that Job?…” The good old King James Version goes: “And the Lord said unto Satan, ‘Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?'” How I love that! Satan’s lines in the KJV are delightfully impertinent: “Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, ‘From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.'” (“Where’ve you been?” “Oh, out.”) This scene has echoes of ancient Near Eastern storytelling, where the gods and demi-gods have their squabbles. Gilgamesh and the gods and goddesses seemed always to have some tiff going on. Likewise in stories from Greek mythology.

As with the previous post, this is a sketch which will get inked in.

Bad Things

Yep, I’ve been working on some more of that Bible stuff I’m into. I was going to reduce the Book of Job (rhymes with ‘robe’) to a single page, as I’d done with the Major Prophets series. I didn’t feel a single page would do Job’s story justice. There’s simply too much story in Job.

So here’s the opener for an 8-page comic. This is merely the sketch, of course. I’ll ink it in like a proper comic. Maybe I’ll figure out how to color it, too.

Ezekiel

ezek72dpiHere it is, the fourth in my series (actually Ezekiel comes 3rd in the Bible) of Major Prophets of the Old Testament. Boiling down Ezekiel to a one-page cartoon took longer than I’d expected. As with all the prophets, he uses lots of visual imagery to make his messages memorable. There was tons of material that I left out, as when God charges Ezekiel to prophesy by commanding him to eat a scroll.

Would you like fries with that?

Would you like fries with that?

The Book of Ezekiel can be divided into three sections: God’s judgment of Israel, God’s judgment of Israel’s neighbor nations, and prophecies of better days ahead for Israel. The Chosen People have surely tried God’s patience—but before we gloat, let’s take a look at our own behavior! The words of Ezekiel and his pals aren’t merely for those long-ago times.

(Side note on vocabulary: PROPHECY/PROPHESY. “Prophecy,” the noun, (pronounced “PROF-a-see”) is a prediction. The verb “to prophesy” (pronounced “PROF-a-sigh”) means to predict something. When a prophet prophesies he or she utters prophecies.)

Of course, the big show-stopping image is Ezekiel’s vision of the wheel. This was the most fun to draw and I hope I stuck pretty closely to the biblical description. It is definitely the weirdest image in the Bible. I was tempted at first to make it a UFO but decided that would be too cheap a gag. I gave the human form enthroned atop the whole contraption a touch of John Steuart Curry’s John Brown.

A passage worth mentioning is Chapter 17, where the eagle plants a seed. It deals with God’s anger that a king of Israel broke his word to a Babylonian king—an enemy of Israel. How about that? Even though this Babylonian king is an enemy of God’s people, he must be dealt with honestly. The Jewish king’s covenant is an extension of God’s covenant. Each of us has a responsibility to behave with integrity no matter whom we deal with.

The last image I drew promises that David will be set up as the shepherd over God’s sheep. It’s possibly another foretelling from the prophets of Jesus’ coming. The evangelist Matthew begins his gospel with Jesus’ family tree showing that He descended from King David.

What did I forget? Oh, yeah—The Valley of Dry Bones! It’s the other big visual that Ezekiel is most remembered for. An entire valley of dried-up old bones brought back to life. How about some music? Here are the Delta Rhythm Boys singing Dem Bones. You want some more? Here are The Charioteers singing Ezekiel Saw The Wheel. Satan wears number 11 shoes. Yessir, I do love that old-time gospel music.

Now you know everything you need to about the Major Prophets. With your fund of Major Prophet info, you certainly will be the life of every party.

UPDATE—I’ve mentioned old-time gospel groups elsewhere on this blog. I should point out I first heard them and jazz groups from the same era on Rich Conaty’s radio show The Big Broadcast. Swing over and listen—and if you have a couple of extra samolians, drop something in the tip jar. Thanks!

Daniel

Continuing our everything-you-need-to-know-about-the Major-Prophets series, here’s Daniel.

Daniel lived to see the end of the Babylonian empire and the rise of the Persian empire—directly serving Emperors Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Darius. From Daniel we get expressions like ‘feet of clay’ and ‘the handwriting on the wall’ (do people still say that?) As a girl my mom learned to remember Daniel’s pals Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego by memorizing ‘Shake a bed, make a bed, and to bed we go’, so I pass it along. The Larks have a pretty snappy take on the story. Here’s Satchmo’s version. ‘Seven times hotter, hotter than it oughta be!’

 

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Jeremiah

Sunday school tomorrow—here’s the second of our Major Prophets of the Old Testament, Jeremiah. Of the four, Jeremiah is probably the gloomiest. Although God promises sunnier days ahead once He’s finished punishing Israel & Judah for their sins, large chunks of this 52-chapter book + Lamentations is about how the Chosen People have gotten seriously off the rails.

Don’t gloat—how well-behaved have we been lately?

Jeremiah has been called the ‘weeping prophet’. So much that his own people could hardly stand him and were forever throwing Jeremiah in cisterns and jails. Who can blame him? He witnessed everything he loved and took for granted be swept away.

Most of the things Jeremiah foretold came true in his lifetime. Last week we met Isaiah, whose prophesies about the virgin birth and Messiah wouldn’t come true for 600 years. So far as I can tell, only one bit of Jeremiah foretells New Testament events—31:15 is thought to predict the slaughter of the innocents found in Matthew. Jeremiah is believed to be the author of 1 and 2 Kings, where you can read about how—starting with Solomon—things unraveled.

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Isaiah

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of 2016! I’ll begin a month of teaching Sunday school to the junior high gang at my church. We’ve been covering the Babylonian Captivity lately and spent a few weeks on the Book of Esther.

This month we’ll be learning about the major prophets of the Hebrew Bible. Isaiah is not a quick read, but I want to give my students some of the highlights. Isaiah was influential on the 4 Evangelists and on Western culture. His words can be found echoed in the Gospels and in Handel’s Messiah. In Brit Lit classics like Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Milton’s Paradise Lost you’ll find the character Lucifer and the idea that devils were once over-proud angels who were cast out of heaven. That’s because one of Isaiah’s passages compares the career of a haughty Babylonian king to the short-lived brightness of Venus—the Hebrew for ‘day star’ was translated as ‘Lucifer’ in the King James version.

Isaiah cheat sheet