'Action Bible' Entertains and Moves People to Tears, Artist Says

Some people may remember reading short, illustrated versions of the Bible growing up as kids, but a world-renowned illustrator has put together a novel approach to the Holy Book by creating a 215-narrative-long project called The Action Bible.

The book hit stores in 2010, and some may have received it as a Christmas gift this season – including a Wentzville, Mo., pastor who gave it a favorable review in a recent post on The Wentzvile Patch. “I know that some will label this a gimmick or a joke. I don’t think so. There is purpose and intentionality in the production of this Bible,” writes the Rev. Kemery Baldwin of the book. 

The Action Bible’s website describes it as featuring over 750 full color pages with contemporary illustrations. It calls it the most complete picture Bible ever, and the perfect Bible for today’s visually focused culture. It also hosts a section with samples of the comic book, and two short video interviews with artist Sergio Cariello, who has worked on some of the biggest Marvel and DC comic books.

In an interview last year with The Bible illustration blog, Cariello talked about his upbringing, his artistic career, and the inspiration behind his decision to recreate both the Old and New Testament into comic book format, which took him three years to complete.

Video: YoutubeWatch: Artist Sergio Cariello talks about the impact of The Action Bible

The artist revealed that he was born in Brazil in 1964, and knew that he wanted to be a comic book artist at the young age of five. He shared memories of his parents taking him to church and reading the Picture Bible books by Andre Le Blanc, which was the source of his inspiration. He learned English and moved to America, where George Theis, the former director of Word of Life Bible Institute in upstate New York, gave him a tuition scholarship to attend his school in Schroon Lake, N.Y.

On the topic of how he decided to depict Jesus, Cariello revealed:

“I watched some movies portrayals of him and observed what other artists had done and came up with my own. I did not want to depict a weak Jesus, nor angelic, or delicate – but a tough, manly carpenter Jesus, with expressive eyes and fit body for those long walks.”

Describing the creative process in one of the videos on his website, the artist revealed that he likes to work with the real thing – he collects props, such as statues and swords, that inspire his illustrations, and he draws thumbnails when reading through texts. “When I transfer to the board, I have the main problems solved and thought through,” he said.

“I really love holding the actual physical pencil instead of the virtual pencil, and getting my hands dirty, and smelling the graphite and the inc,” the artist shared, adding that he enjoys drawing “the-old fashioned way.”

In another video Cariello talked about the impact some of his images have had on people: “I remember displaying that original (image of Jesus carrying the cross) at a comic-book convention – and this guy in front of me was looking at it. He got teary eyed, just by the impact of that drawing.”

“But there is definitely something more than the drawing itself. So the importance of doing something like this for me is not only to be entertaining, but to be affecting people’s lives,” he continued, focusing on the purpose behind his work.

Comparing The Action Bible to other comic books, Cariello reflected: “Spiderman, Batman, Tarzan – I love them, they’re great – but they will pass away. The Bible, God’s Word, will never pass away. Superhero comic books are done for escapism – but the Picture Bible (can help you) find yourself, and find your Creator.”