Friday, August 1, 2014

Book Review and Author Interview: Genesis, a Graphic Novel by Jason Quinn

The greatest story ever told begins with Genesis. Witness the Biblical creation of the world, the tempting of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the tragic story of Cain and Abel, before joining Noah and the animals on the voyage of a lifetime. Told in a vivid graphic format,Genesis: From Creation to the Flood, is the perfect introduction to the Old Testament. Experience life in the Garden of Eden and life on board the Arc as Noah, his family, and the animals embark on a voyage that will end in a new beginning for life on Earth.

Jason Quinn is the award winning author of Campfire's Steve Jobs: Genius by Design and Gandhi: My Life is My Message. He learned to read with Marvel Comics and was devastated when his teacher told him Spider-Man did not exist. He has worked in publishing for the last twenty years as an editor and writer, working on everything from Spider-Man to Barbie. He moved to India in 2012 and currently works as Campfire's Creative Content Head.

Naresh Kumar is a resident of New Delhi, India. He describes himself as a seeker who is continuously trying to learn as much as he can. He views his art as an expression of his curiosity about the world. In Genesis: From Creation to the Flood, Naresh has produced a work that reads like a great animated movie, exciting, child-friendly and full of wonder and imagination. His past work for Campfire includes Julius Caesar, They Changed the World: Edison, Tesla & Bell, Frankenstein, and Robinson Crusoe.

My Review:
In the age of turning classic books into graphic novels, it was only a matter of time until someone looked at the Bible to do the same.
That's not a bad thing. The Bible is confusing. Among Christian communities it's prescribed as required reading for children, but who can really keep up?
I remember trying to read the Bible as a kid and getting lost in all the footnotes and bloodlines to really appreciate and think about what the stories were about. Things became clearer with the creation of Veggie Tales, a cartoon series that simplified the Bible and left you with the morals of the stories.

Graphic novels do about the same thing. Things that were a bonus in this book:
-Family Trees
-acknowledgement of other cultures and religions with similar stories
-The fact that the serpent had legs in Eden.

Of course there are other factors that are debated and controversial that weren't included in this novel (perhaps for good reason). The two biggest being Dragons and Giants.

We've established that the serpent has legs in Eden. Every culture has some rendering of Dragons. Who's to say the serpent wasn't a dragon instead of an odd sort of lizard man?

Also, Giants. The children of Fallen Angel and Man. Did they help Noah and his family build the Ark? We may never know.

Star rating: Five of Five. I hope for more in the future.

Author Interview:
What prompted you to create a graphic novel of the Bible?
 I’ve always found the Bible fascinating. They call it the Greatest Story Ever Told for a reason, actually, it’s more like the greatest stories ever told, there are so many cool stories and great characters and some brilliant visuals. I used to have an illustrated bible as a kid with some great pictures in it and really the book was made for the graphic novel medium.

You mentioned similar stories to Noah from other cultures. Do you think this is a coincidence or did they all stem from one story and get lost in a game of telephone?
 Actually, I could have mentioned similar creation stories too and even similar stories to Cain and Abel. The indigenous Australian people have a very similar story to Cain and Abel with two brothers one of whom gets whacked on the head with a stone axe. It’s strange but there are many similarities between stories in the Old Testament and stories in other cultures, which yes, they could well have become distorted through a mammoth game of telephone. Mind you, I’ve always believed that there is a finite number of plotlines and the infinite is the personal stamp we put on the story as story-tellers. So one guy telling the story of a flood in Mexico will tell it quite differently to another guy telling the same story in say India. Culture and surroundings play a big part too because you want your audience to relate.

Do you think the Serpent started out as a dragon?
 It’s more than possible, or maybe dragons started out as serpents. You know how lots of people have an innate fear of snakes, unless it’s a massive horror movie boa constrictor a snake doesn’t look that terrifyingly impressive and so for a big strong hulking brute of a man like say Saint George to be scared of a little adder seems a little bit wussy, so we transform this snake into a great big fire breathing dinosaur who can fly rather than slither around on the ground. That said, if you live in an area where there are lots of venomous snakes you don’t have to dramatise them, they are something that will have injured at least someone that you know and so you’ll be raised with a healthy fear and mistrust of them. I think if the serpent was a dragon, Eve would have been too freaked out to listen to him, but a snake, a serpent, at that time, before all the bad stuff came into the world, she would have found harmless enough to listen to. Having said that, I always enjoy hearing other theories too.

You didn't mention the nephilim at all; is there a reason for that?
 There were several reason behind not including the nephilim. One was that in the bible itself they are only mentioned in passing and I felt to include that passage would simply confuse the reader without really adding anything. If however, we had been doing a book simply on the Flood itself then yes, we could have developed the Nephilim into more significant characters. In Genesis itself you almost get the feeling the writer was about to say more about them but then events took over and they were cast to one side.

While we're on the subject, do you think the nephilim or their offspring ("mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.") might have been helping Noah and his family out?
 It is certainly possible that they either helped or hindered Noah in some way, otherwise, you wonder why they were mentioned here at all. However, with popular opinion divided on the actual identity of the Nephilim themselves, I left them out, possibly filing them away to use in another book at some stage.

I understand I reviewed an ARC, but I couldn't help but notice every character had light skin, when (If they were from the East) at least some should have been darker. Is there a reason for this?
The book is set in and around the Middle East where, skin is fairer than say further East. True most of the people aren’t blonde and blue eyed (although you will get a few) but also they aren’t particularly dark. The general look is fairly Mediterranean, where some people are olive skinned and others a little paler. Bearing in mind that we are dealing with the early years of the human race when people didn’t get around as much as they did later and so skin tones would be pretty uniform as there would not be so many outsiders mixing with the characters.
Finally: Will there be more?
I certainly hope so. Obviously Genesis is a great place to start but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other great stories in both Old and New Testaments. As a child I always enjoyed the Bible stories and Bible movies, not from a religious point of view but because they are great stories where anything can happen. I also love the stories in the Indian epic the Mahabharata and in the same way I don’t feel these stories are only for Christians or Jewish readers but for anyone who loves a great story, regardless of their religious beliefs. I remember seeing the movie Samson and Delilah as a kid and for me I didn’t equate it with the Bible at the time, it was just a great adventure about this guy who was a bit like Superman but instead of Kryptonite being his weakness it was having a haircut.  The Samson story is great for a graphic novel as is Moses and David and Goliath and well, so many others.

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