Comics/Graphic Novels

Authored by: Christine Hoff Kraemer , A. David Lewis

The Routledge Companion to Religion and Popular Culture

Print publication date:  March  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415638661
eBook ISBN: 9781315724478
Adobe ISBN: 9781317531067


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The past seven years have seen a rush of scholarship on the subject of religion and comic books. Comics already had an established place in popular culture studies, partly because of the increasing recognition of comics as a sophisticated artistic medium and partly because of the importance of the superhero genre, which has offered scholars powerful insights into American history and culture (especially regarding the World War II and post-war periods). The recent explosion of religion and comics scholarship, however, seems to recognize that comics do not merely reflect the culture they inhabit. Comics are instead a place where culture is being created: tools in the hands of religious and spiritually-oriented people for spreading their ideologies, educating readers in their practices, and at times, even seeking participants for their rituals or groups. For traditional religious groups, comics have long been used for educational and missionary purposes, in the belief that a medium that combines text with visuals is more accessible than text alone. But contemporary comics have also attracted a number of creators who are passionate about their religion or spirituality, or about their opposition to organized religion. For some creators, concerns about religion are expressed through satire of religious imagery and institutions. For others, however, comics are a vehicle for theologically innovative thought. Particularly for alternative religious groups and for the growing body of individuals who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious,” theologically experimental comics can offer springboards for thought and discussion about religion, and even opportunities for spiritual experiences.

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