Pastor Art Ayris recalls suddenly feeling a “divine compulsion” to start working in media, and after 40 days of fasting and praying for God’s guidance, he did just that, launching a Christian comic book and graphic novel company back in 2005.
“I had no clue that it would be comics and graphic novels,” Ayris, founder and CEO of Kingstone Comics, told Faithwire of his foray into the media landscape.
But he said his team quickly became convinced and driven by the idea that these products could help biblically engage kids and young adults — cohorts that have been measured as less religiously engaged and affiliated than previous generations.
Ayris is so passionate about the impact he believes Kingstone products have on youths that he’s convinced God has given him and his ministry a “divine hook” for reaching more spiritually disconnected generations.
“There’s such an engagement factor with comics and graphic novels,” he said, explaining that his company’s aim is to feature “ordinary people, extraordinary stories.”
And while Ayris’ company has produced countless comics and graphic novels over the years, the most recent project — “The Kingstone Bible” — is making quite a splash, as the book, which released Oct. 18, is reportedly “the most complete graphic novel adaptation of the Bible.”
The project, which took seven years to complete and culminated in 2,000 pages and 10,000 art panels, is among the largest graphic novels ever published. But beyond that, “The Kingstone Bible” also serves a far greater purpose: conveying scripture to American kids and young adults.
“If you’re out there with a medium that kids understand, your engagement level would go up to 95 to 100 percent,” Ayris told Faithwire, saying he believes comics and graphic novels offer a “communicative power” when they merge powerful images and text. And in the case of “The Kingstone Bible,” he believes his company is offering a moving, life-changing tool.
“With a comic … in a short period of time you can tell a lot of story,” he said. “Somebody who was a novice to religion (and didn’t) read the Bible, didn’t know anything about Jesus … within just a matter of days, they could understand the major Bible stories, big narratives, doctrine.”
Distilling the entire Bible into the three-volume graphic novel was no easy feat, though, as the process took years, with Ayris and his team consulting numerous versions of the Bible to ensure the comic book version of the text was biblically accurate.
Separated into three books, the first volume includes “creation through David,” the second starts with the exile and goes to the intertestamental period — and the third covers Jesus through Revelation.
“I’m an evangelical. I’m very committed to scriptural authority,” he said. “I’m handling the scripture with kid gloves … we consulted numerous versions of the Bible. … We stayed very true to scripture.”
In addition to keeping the text and imagery in line with biblical scripture, Ayris and his team matched illustrators up with the subject matter at hand in each Bible book in an effort to make the best use of their talents.
In the end, he’s hoping “The Kingstone Bible” will have a profound impact on those who read it.
“I want (readers) to be solidified that the Bible’s God’s word … that they have an understanding of the scripture,” he said. “Maybe it stretches their mind and imagination about the scriptures.”
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