Having just put the Comic Book Of Esther to bed, then woken it up by drawing an all new splash page for the whole thing, then put it back to bed again, I've this week completed the first stage of another project, The Book Of Ruth.
Once more working in my favoured method of laying the entire script out in visual form, as you can see above and below, I've adapted The Book Of Esther as a comic strip, on a nine panel-per-page grid, that comes out as a 12 pager.
I'm not entirely sure whether Bible Society will want it. It was mentioned over a year ago, when Esther was commissioned, but a lot of water has been passed since then. I hope I get the chance to draw it up, as I think I've written another witty and whimsical piece of Biblical adaptation. Fingers crossed.
I've learned so much about these Bible stories by doing these adaptations. In so many ways, the two main stories I've tackled so far, Esther & Ruth, demonstrate so many classic tropes of storytelling that we see in novels and movies to this day. One key thing both of them share is their "marketing."
Both stories are called The Book Of and the name of the female protagonist. Yet in both books it's other characters - Mordecai in Esther, and Naomi and Boaz in Ruth - who drive the story and bring about the biggest twists in the narrative. So why name the books Ruth and Esther? Marketing.
These are stories, passed on by word of mouth over hundreds of years before they ever got written down. So they need to be sold. You need your audience to hear them. And The Book Of Ruth is, essentially, a story that explains how a non-Jew gets to marry in and pass on the family inheritance.
So if you're in a marketplace in 2nd Century BC Judea and you've got the choice between the Rabbi who's going to tell you the story of The Role Of The Go'el Or Kinsman-Redeemer In Inheritance Law or the story of Young Romantic Heroine Ruth, who are you going to listen to? If you've got one Rabbi saying he'll tell you The Loophole In Talmudic Law Called A Levirate Marriage and another saying roll up roll up and hear about Sexy Shenanigans On The Threshing Floor With Ruth & The Rich Older Man, the choice is a no-brainer.
In the ancient Judean marketplace, as in the modern multiplex, women choose which movie we're all going to go see.
UPDATE: My editor "bloody loves it", now we have to hope it'll pass the theological tests.
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here.