Superman and Captain America. Moses and Jesus Christ.
What do they have in common?
“Superheroes and biblical figures both have one guy coming in and saving the day,” said Sergio Carriello, illustrator of The Action Bible, a comic book created by Colorado Springs Christian publishing company David C. Cooke.
“But the difference between The Action Bible and Captain America is that Captain America is fiction, but The Action Bible is based on fact,” Carriello told me.
Since its release a few months ago, The Action Bible has sold an impressive 60,000 copies, and Christmas gift buying this month is sure to add at least 20,000 sales.
“We’ve really been impressed by how well it’s done,” said Bob de la Pena, who oversaw The Action Bible project at David C. Cook.
The Action Bible may be the thickest comic book on the market. Its 750 pages covers 215 Bible stories. (Check out samples at my "Pulpit" blog by clicking here.)
Moses, looking like a muscle-bound Charlton Heston, parts the Red Sea. Jesus, with chiseled face, performs miracles before wide-eyed disciples. Hulking Roman soldiers in shiny helmets prod an embattled Jesus to carry his cross to Golgotha.
The Action Bible is the new version of the Picture Bible, published by Cooke some 30 years ago and which has sold 3 million copies worldwide.
The Picture Bible’s illustrations are rendered in a realistic style. But The Action Bible team felt a comic-book style would resonate better with today’s 8- to 12-year-olds.
The balloon texts, written by several clergy members, uses street talk and modern phrases.
“It is very dynamic,” de la Pena said. “It’s the cartoon style that kids respond to today.”
Carriello got the job for the three-year project in 2006.
His resume includes being an illustrator for Marvel Comics and DC Comics, where he draws superheroes like Superman, Iron-Man and The Green Lantern.
David C. Cooke learned of him after seeing his winning submission to the International Christian Comics Competition — Jesus carrying his cross surrounded by an angry mob.
Carriello’s Christian background also helped him land the job. Besides attending the Joe Kubert School of Cartoons and Graphic Arts in Dover, N.J., he attended the Word of Life Bible Institute, a Christian college in upstate New York that teaches Bible history and exegesis.
Cariello says The Action Bible project has been the most rewarding of his career, though he admits he’s a bit burned-out drawing Arab turbans, sandals and Roman head gear.
Carriello’s favorite part of the project was illustrating the Gospels, where he rendered a different kind of Jesus.
“In (traditional) paintings he’s usually shown as delicate,” he told me. “I wanted to picture him as fit, rough and tough.”
Jesus Christ, Son of God, superhero.
The Action Bible sells for $24.95 and is available at most bookstores and Wal-mart. To see samples of The Action Bible, go to my blog, "The Pulpit", at www.thepulpit.freedomblogging.com.