Gene Luen Yang on Comics and Christianity

Cover for American Born Chinese by Gene Luen YangA portion of American Born Chinese author Gene Luen Yang’s mediation on why comics and Christianity don’t — but likely should — mix can be found at the Sojourners blog site. (The full writing requires a membership and login to Sojourners.) In the piece, he’s reminded of how the local comics shop disturbed his mother’s sensibilities yet should have, in his view, been a natural ally to the Christian faith:

She didn’t know it at the time, but my mother had just played out in microcosm the long, antagonistic relationship between Christianity and comics. Since its inception in 1933, the modern comic book has drawn the ire of preachers, priests, and parents. Committees and associations have been formed on both sides of the struggle.

This animosity is curious, especially since Christianity and comic books have a lot in common. Christianity was established by a small band of poor Jewish men who loved stories. Almost 2,000 years ago, Peter, James, John, and their peers in the neighborhoods of Galilee gathered around a wonder-worker who taught by telling stories. From this community grew the largest religion on earth.

Yang recently released his latest graphic novel Level Up about his adolescence and young adulthood as an Asian American, also printed by American Born Chinese publisher First Second. For a separate discussion with Yang about Christian themes in that earlier book (and whether or not they replaced originally Buddhist content), see this interview with the Kartika Review.

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