06 January 2010
Telling the Story in Different Ways
In perusing the reading list from 2009, anyone with eyes for it will notice that some comic books/graphic novels made the list. I've been reading Neil Gaiman for years now, and finally decided to check out The Sandman rather than wait and see if Gaiman will ever put the story into prose.
On the one hand, you could make the argument that, since I can easily read each of these volumes in a single sitting, they're more illustrated short story than books. But having gone through most of the series now, I'm afraid I'd disagree with you. For one thing, saying you're reading a comic book doesn't really do justice to the act: the words combine with the art to make something more than text, especially something as exquisitely artistic as The Sandman. For another thing, the story's the main point, and Gaiman is, in my opinion, one of the greatest storytellers of the present day, and he seems to be getting better the longer he does it. If you haven't read American Gods, Anansi Boys or Neverwhere, you're missing a lot of really, really good fiction.
It comes down to this: if you can tell the story, tell the story, in whatever medium works best. We in the church could benefit from focusing a bit less on our preferred medium of being and focusing a bit more on telling the story of Jesus in whatever medium works best. Not everyone can be a Neil Gaiman. Not everyone can be a Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Marilynne Robinson. But Stephen King can't preach like Barbara Brown Taylor, either - and who's to say that there isn't an artist out there with the gifts and skills to tell the story of God and God's people with the same beauty, fascination and devotion as the folks who put together the wonderful world of The Sandman?
Some write songs. Some craft sermons. Some build stained glass. Some write icons. Some paint church bathrooms. Some balance budgets. Some teach Sunday School. Some sit by hospital beds. All tell the story of God in one way or another - and all are called to tell the story in whatever medium works best.
Grace & peace,