Ajinbayo Akinsiku wants the world to know Jesus Christ – just not the gentle, blue-eyed Christ of old Hollywood movies and many illustrated Bibles.
Akinsiku says his Son of God is “a samurai stranger who’s come to town, in silhouette,” here to shake things up in a new, much-abridged version of the Bible rooted in manga, the Japanese form of graphic novels.
“We present things in a very brazen way,” said Akinsiku, who hopes to become an Anglican priest and who is the author of “The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation.” “Christ is a hard guy, seeking revolution and revolt, a tough guy.”
Publishers with an eye for evangelism and for markets have long profited by directing Bibles at niche markets: just-married couples, teenage boys, teenage girls, recovering addicts. Often the lure is cosmetic, like a jazzy new cover.
Sales of graphic novels, too, have grown by double digits in recent years. So it makes sense that a convergence is under way, as graphic novels take up stories from the Bible, often in startling ways. In the last year, several major religious and secular publishing houses have announced or released manga religious stories.
The medium shapes the message. Manga often focuses on action and epic. Much of the Bible, as a result, ends up on the cutting room floor, and what remains is darker.