CFP: [Religion] Graven Images Conference: Religion in Comic Books and Graphic Novels

full name / name of organization: 
A. David Lewis
contact email: 


Graven Images: Religion in Comic Books & Graphic Novels
Presented by the Luce Program in Scripture & Literary Arts

Boston University Department of Religion
April 12-14, 2007

“Graven Images” will explore the roles of religion in comic books and
graphic novels. This conference is open to all interpretations of
“religious comics”; in fact, we welcome debate as to what that term might
mean. From the performance of religion in comics, to religious or mythic
traditions among the elements of various works, to the use of comics by
religious practitioners themselves, the relationship between comics and
religion is dynamic and evolving. Given the increasing seriousness with
which the public has come to view comics as an art form as well as
Americans’ fraught but passionate relationship with religion, “Graven
Images” provides an opportunity for discussion of cutting-edge artistic and
social issues.

Examples of religion in comics abound. Preacher is the tale of a lapsed
Texan clergyman armed with the literal Word of God in order to track down
the Creator Himself. The Golem’s Mighty Swing features a group of Jewish
ballplayers in the 1920s who invoke a biblical force amidst competition and
prejudice. Cerebus, the world’s first and only 6,000-page graphic novel,
resolves around the creation of a new religion, its sacred text, the
author’s own account of Genesis, and a final accounting with God. Kingdom
Come presents a “twilight of the superheroes,” set against the backdrops of
both Nordic Ragnarok and Christian Revelation and seen through the eyes of
a faith-weary minister and a divine Spirit of Vengeance. Although there is
no shortage of religious material in comic books and graphic novels, there
is a dearth of formal, academic discussion on the topic. “Graven Images”
aims to begin a conversation that will rectify this lack.

The focus will be primarily English-language works produced over the last
60 years for the American market, though special exceptions will be made
for particularly strong abstracts. We are particularly interested in the
following works and topics, though others will be considered:

Age of Bronze, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary, Blankets, Buddha,
Castle Waiting, Cairo, Contract with God, From Hell, Finder, Hellboy, Hey
Mister: The Trouble with Jesus, Invisibles, Jew of New York, King David,
Lucifer, Marked!, MAUS, Megillat Esther, Persepolis, Promethea, Sandman,
Testament, and the Virgin Comics line.

• Pagan Missionaries: the works of Moore, Gaiman, and Morrison as
mouthpieces for New Religious Movements
• Christian Comic Books and the Evangelicals
• The Market for Religious Comics
• Daniel: Prophet of Dreams, Samson: Judge of Israel, The Lone and Level
Sands, Marked!, and other depictions of the Hebrew Bible or New Testament
• Using Comics to Teach Religion
• Non-Western Religious Traditions in Western Comic Books
• Ritual Wednesdays at the Comic Shop: Comic Book Culture and its Elements
of Faith
• What does a Messiah look like? Chosen, Battle Pope, and The New
Adventures of Jesus
• Binky Brown and other Irreverent Portraits of Religion: The Role of Humor

500-word abstracts should be sent to the attention of A. David Lewis either
through e-mail at or by mail to “Graven Images” Conference,
Department of Religion, Boston University, 145 Bay State Road, Boston MA 02215.


The Luce Program in Scripture and Literary Arts (
was created in 2000, thanks to a generous grant from the Henry Luce
Foundation and strong support from Boston University. It is intended to
raise the profile of the Bible in humanistic studies through courses in the
Jewish and Christian scriptures, as well as in the secular literatures that
grow out of these sacred traditions. The program is also opening an Islamic
version of this inquiry, as well as beginning to explore the place of the
visual arts in interpreting scripture.

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Received on Fri Sep 21 2007 - 22:19:05 EDT