Seven years in the making, The Kingstone Bible from Florida-based publisher Kingstone Comics is available in a three-volume, full color hardcover comics adaptation that recreates the entire Bible in the form of a graphic novel. A team of 45 comics artists, all with experience at Marvel and DC Comics, produced the Kingstone Bible illustrations.
This is the first time the complete text of the Bible has been made available as a graphic work. “It’s an epic look for an epic book,” said publisher for Kingstone Comics, Art Ayris who stopped by the PW offices along a media tour that included Fox, The Guardian, and more on Nov. 4.
The 2,400-page, three-book set launched Nov. 1 with a 60,000 copy first printing, which Kingstone will distribute to the trade. Ayris said he handled most of the writing to adapt the Biblical text into a comics narrative. His cowriters are Ben Avery and Randy Alcorn.
The Kingstone Bible three-piece set is priced at $75, and individual volumes are $24.99 apiece, though “98% of our sales are for the whole set,” Ayris said. According to Ayris, the new hardcover books have already sold about 15,000 copies, with particularly strong sales via Amazon—likely a result of store attrition in the CBA (Association for Christian Retail) market in recent years.
The Kingstone Bible is the latest example of Ayris’ plans to use contemporary media—like comics and films—to attract younger consumers to the Bible and to the evangelical Christian worldview. “Graphics and text together is exponential in its impact on readers,” Ayris said. The trilogy is being marketed to pre-teens and young adults, as well as men aged 18-29.
The idea for the Kingstone Bible came to Ayris, executive pastor at First Baptist Church in Leesburg, Fl., while ministering to at-risk young adults in 2000. “I needed materials to reach them,” said Ayris. “As everyone who is successful in publishing knows, you have to find an underserved niche, and it's been key for us.”
Kingstone Comics began the adaptation as a series of 12 shorter individual paperback volumes based on different parts of the Bible. Due to customer demand, after completing the 7th print volume, the company switched its focus to producing the full hardcover Bible comics adaptation. The three volume hardcover work is compiled from the 12 trade paperback volumes.
Kingstone initially faced backlash from some members of the CBA who questioned whether the Bible should be turned into a graphic novel in the first place. “We got some criticism that it’s a divine document that shouldn’t get this kind of treatment,” said Ayris. “But these are the same communities that complain that people aren’t reading the Bible.”
Today, the book has been approved by a variety of evangelical theologians, and Ayris sees it as “a strong recruitment tool for the Bible.” The publisher said endorsements have come from Bible societies around the world, including, New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore.
Gerry Breshears, former president of the Evangelical Theological Society in Portland, Ore., called the Kingstone Bible “a powerful new way to get the message of the Bible into the hands, heads, and hearts of people who simply do not read books, much less the Bible.”
Ultimately, Ayris believes the Bible is perfect for comics. “It’s an epic story that’s got intrigue, war, and power,” he said. “And Delilah was hot, there’s no way to circumvent that.”
The Bible Gets a Graphic Makeover
By Emma Koonse and Calvin Reid | Nov 09, 2016