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Graphic Novel re: Joseph Smith


smac97

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Here:

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Alternative cartoonist Noah Van Sciver is to create a graphic novel, to be published by Abrams ComicArts in May 2o22, about the early history of Mormonism, called Joseph Smith And The Mormons.

Decades in the making, an original graphic novel biography about the life of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. In Joseph Smith and the Mormons, author and illustrator Noah Van Sciver, who was raised a Mormon, covers one of history's most controversial figures, Joseph Smith—who founded a religion which is practiced by millions all over the world. The book discusses all of the monumental moments during Smith's life, including the anti-Mormon threats and violence which caused his followers to move from New York to Ohio, Smith's receiving the divine commandment of plural marriage, his imprisonment, his announcement to run for president of the United States, and his ultimate murder by an angry mob in 1844 at the young age of 38. With a respectful and historical approach, and strikingly illustrated, this graphic novel is the ultimate book for those curious about the origins of the Mormon faith and the man who started it all.

The length is surprising: 464 pages.  Wow.  That's a lot of work.

As soon as I saw this article I thought "Hmm, a graphic novel is, well, 'graphic.'  Van Sciver will need to either depict the Gold Plates, or not."  Here are the panels included in the article:

88.jpg

89.jpg

"Nobody must ever see what I have locked in this chest under any circumstances or they will be destroyed!"

Hmm.  There were witnesses to the plates, but here the novel seems to suggest "nobody" ever saw the plates "under any circumstances." Another:

 

 90.jpg

Again, no plates.  However, per this catalog this is what the cover of the novel will look like:

Sciver-Cover.jpg

The catalog also includes a few additional images from the novel, though the resolution is pretty poor.  Here's one:

Sciver-Witnesses.jpg

Cool.  This seems to jibe with the historical sources:

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Joseph led the three men to the woods, where they knelt together and took turns asking God to show them the plates. But he didn’t. Not the first time they prayed, nor the second. It wasn’t until Martin stood up and confessed that he was the reason the heavens remained closed. He left the others to retreat further into the woods, and then the vision the men sought was opened. Joseph testified that an angel stood before them with the plates in his hands, turning the leaves one by one so they could see the engraved writing.”[4] Oliver and David later declared, “An angel of God came down from Heaven & he brought & laid before our eyes that we beheld & saw the plates & the engravings thereon.”[5]

Afterward, Joseph followed Martin’s path and found him in prayer, contrite, complying with the instructions he had received. When Martin saw Joseph, he asked him to join his earnest prayer that he could have the same experience. Their prayer was only half uttered, Joseph said, when “the same vision was opened to our view” and he heard and saw the same angel with the engraved plates, while Martin began to cry joyfully, “Mine eyes have beheld, mine eyes have beheld.”[6]
...
[4] Joseph’s testimony is in his History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, Church History Library, t http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/history-circa-june-1839-circa-1841-draft-2?p=31&highlight=testimony of three witnesses.
[5] Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, Testimony of Three Witnesses, Palmyra, New York, late June 1829, in Book of Mormon Printer’s Manuscript, 463–64, handwriting of Oliver Cowdery, Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri, http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/testimony-of-three-witnesses-late-june-1829?p=1&highlight=testimony of three witnesses.
[6] JSP, H1:317–21

Per the cartoonist's Wikipedia entry, he used to be a member of the Church. 

Here is another article that includes both an interview of the cartoonist another image from the novel:

24.jpg

An excerpt from the interview:

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You are currently editing your graphic novel on Joseph Smith. What interests you about Smith the man?

The story is fascinating. I was raised in the LDS church. I knew the basics of the church’s history but I hadn’t delved too deeply into the prophet.

I have always wanted to write this graphic novel. I never could figure out how I would tackle it until the last couple of years.

What has changed in the last few years that have allowed you to tackle Smith’s life? I am impressed with the pages that I have seen on your blog. You are not preparing a hagiography that venerates Smith as a prophet. It also seems that you are not creating a “Mormon bashing” text. Instead, you are focusing on Joseph Smith’s life as a man and situating him within his community. What have you learned about him from this project?

That’s true, I have no interest in creating an anti-LDS book, nor the kind of biography that the church could easily publish on their own. What’s changed is that I feel like I have the artistic chops to tackle the story now and I know I can take on a bigger story. I can handle it with maturity. So far I’ve mostly been impressed with the drive he had to accomplish things despite the fact that he really came from nothing with no real education and a bad leg. To establish entire cities and to raise himself up is pretty inspiring stuff. The not-so-charming things I discovered about him you can read about later in the book…

This article describes one of Van Sciver's earlier graphic novels depicting his fairly bleak and unhappy family life while growing up, including the impact of the Church:

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The Mormon ascent into wider cultural awareness has not been under the best circumstances. It’s involved revelations about the fringe of it with the abduction of Elizabeth Smart and reality television shows that mostly focused on polygamy.
...
And so many Americans on the left have developed a certain vision of what Mormons are like, and regardless of what aspect of that vision might be applicable, it always boils down to one aspect: Cult members.

So it’s nice when you encounter something that presents an LDS character or characters human — neither derogatory or idyllic, just human. Noah Van Sciver’s memoir One Dirty Tree does exactly that as a look back on his family life in New Jersey as Mormon and an examination of how that family life affected his own goals as an adult.
...

The Mormon aspect becomes important in one way. Van Sciver depicts the reactions people have to the discovery of his LDS background as being grounded in the stereotypes and peppered by the ridicule, which creates a bypass that allows them to not look at him as a person or his family’s life as anything other than captive to their preconceived notions. Mormons become caricatures in the popular imagination, but Van Sciver’s troubled home life is revealed as the exact opposite.

Van Sciver’s father was a troubled and abusive man who found Biblical parallels in his own life failures and took strict umbrage in correcting his children’s most minor mistakes. Van Scriver’s mother seems like a person drowning in a situation out of her control, hiding out in her own mind to seize a little bit of happiness. The children were left to their own devices in this situation, leaving them to be both self-sufficient and needy. The Mormonism gave the illusion of structure in the family, but it was a half-hearted devotion, an incomplete shelter from the dark side.

In many ways, One Dirty Tree is Van Sciver working things out, and it’s gracious of him to share this level of introspection. Though he attempts to give the childhood stories some amount of joy, at least in regard to the moments he lived his own life, none of this can escape the saturating sadness of the book, and it’s all peppered with an understandable anger and frustration.

Projects like this can be evocative, if for no other reason than posing a valuable question: were the plates real?  Consider these remarks by Daniel Peterson:

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Daniel C. Peterson said:

A knowledgeable academic friend who does not believe in the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon once asked me, since it seems that the plates were not actually necessary to the translation process and were sometimes not even present in the room, what purpose they served. I responded that I did not know, exactly, except for one thing: They are an indigestible lump in the throats of people like him who contend that there were no Nephites but that Joseph Smith was nonetheless an inspired prophet. If the plates really existed, somebody made them. And if no Nephites existed to make them, then either Joseph Smith, or God, or somebody else seems to have been engaged in simple fraud. The testimony of the witnesses exists, I think, to force a dichotomous choice: true or false? 

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 hour ago, Olmec Donald said:

... and then Sting said:

"Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I'll be watching you"

I gather that it seems there's a likeness there, then, is that what you're telling us? ;) 

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51 minutes ago, Calm said:

The facial features, I don’t want to call them expressions because there isn’t much difference to me, they all look pinched and unhappy to me, as if having a group anxiety attack….or they are dried up apple dolls.  The style just doesn’t work for me.

Yup, I compare this mess with what Andrew Knaupp and Sal Velluto created for a their telling of Joseph's first vision, and I'm left wondering how many, if any, "alternative artists" are employed by Marvel and DC.

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16 minutes ago, Derl Sanderson said:

Yup, I compare this mess with what Andrew Knaupp and Sal Velluto created for a their telling of Joseph's first vision, and I'm left wondering how many, if any, "alternative artists" are employed by Marvel and DC.

The illustration on those isn't bad. The one in the OP, however, is a hot mess.

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The famous comic book artist Michael Allred started a Book of Mormon comic book over ten years ago, but he gave it up because of time and money constraints (it wasn't profitable, and it took all of his and his wife's time). It was critically acclaimed, and well done. We liked that it used the Book of Mormon text for the exposition and dialogue. What he produced is out of print. We liked it better than the little kid version of the Book of Mormon the Church put out (with Nephites who looked like Race Bannon from Johnny Quest). 

https://slate.com/culture/2011/10/book-of-mormon-by-michael-allred-the-golden-plates.html

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2 hours ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

Two Thousand Young Warriors (Two Thousand Stripling Warriors)

 Captain Moroni on his high horse?

The average height of a horse is about 60 inches at the withers.  The tallest horse on record was 82.75 inches at the withers, and if that tall guy next to Moroni is six feet, then Moroni's horse would have been right up there with the tallest.

When he was on his mission my brother used to draw cartoons of Book of Mormon characters with the traditional muscles of magnitude, straining while carrying around their scriptures - metal books like the images of the Golden Plates.  The way Alma figured out his son Alma the Younger hadn't been studying his scriptures was that he still had skinny noodle arms. 

Okay, the cartoons were funnier that my description.

Edited by Olmec Donald
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59 minutes ago, Olmec Donald said:

Captain Moroni on his high horse?

The average height of a horse is about 60 inches at the withers.  The tallest horse on record was 82.75 inches at the withers, and if that tall guy next to Moroni is six feet, then Moroni's horse would have been right up there with the tallest.

I think he is on a stand with his horse reviewing the troops as they march by myself.  Otherwise the proportions feel off (size of the men compared with the horse’s head and shoulders).

 https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2021/7/big-jake-the-worlds-tallest-horse-dies-666548

https://metro.co.uk/2010/04/29/big-jake-the-worlds-tallest-horse-272867/

The taller the horse, the bigger the head I am guessing…look at Big Jake!

Edited by Calm
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3 hours ago, Olmec Donald said:

 

Sting2.jpg.9d9f3737fa4fce7452d7ffffec40dc4c.jpgSting1.jpg.78d560cdac45bd4138d3096f5080e8dd.jpg

Top?  Sting.

Bottom?  Sting completely strung out on ... something.

:D :rofl::D 

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55 minutes ago, Calm said:

... The taller the horse, the bigger the head I am guessing…look at Big Jake!

Man, "Big Jake" is right!  That horse is huuuuge!  Rest in peace, Big Fella! :( 

P.S.: When my family and I went to Nauvoo many years ago, we took a ride on a wagon that was pulled by two oxen, one of which was named Jake.  The reason I know his name was Jake (and why I can't remember his "partner's" name) is because his partner was the "obedient" one, while Jake was the "disobedient" one: Either Jake geed when he was supposed to haw, or he didn't haw when he was supposed to, because the teamster said, "Haw, Jake." ;) 

Edited by Kenngo1969
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1 hour ago, Olmec Donald said:

... When he was on his mission my brother used to draw cartoons of Book of Mormon characters with the traditional muscles of magnitude, straining while carrying around their scriptures - metal books like the images of the Golden Plates.  The way Alma figured out his son Alma the Younger hadn't been studying his scriptures was that he still had skinny noodle arms.  [Emphasis added by Kenngo1969.]

Okay, the cartoons were funnier that my description.

On the contrary: I think you will be pleased to know that I laughed heartily, even though I had only your description, and not the actual cartoon, to laugh at! ;) :D :rofl::D (And yes, for all of the Grammar Nazis, I'm aware that one using correct English does not end a sentence with a preposition, but "I had only your description at which to laugh" sounds strange and stilted. ;))

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1 hour ago, Olmec Donald said:

The average height of a horse is about 60 inches at the withers.  The tallest horse on record was 82.75 inches at the withers, and if that tall guy next to Moroni is six feet, then Moroni's horse would have been right up there with the tallest.

You know how Genesis people used to live a 1000 years until the average lifespan plummeted? Also how there were races of OT giants?

So why not super dinosaur horses? Also 1000 years old because why not?

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1 hour ago, Olmec Donald said:

 Captain Moroni on his high horse?

The average height of a horse is about 60 inches at the withers.  The tallest horse on record was 82.75 inches at the withers, and if that tall guy next to Moroni is six feet, then Moroni's horse would have been right up there with the tallest.

When he was on his mission my brother used to draw cartoons of Book of Mormon characters with the traditional muscles of magnitude, straining while carrying around their scriptures - metal books like the images of the Golden Plates.  The way Alma figured out his son Alma the Younger hadn't been studying his scriptures was that he still had skinny noodle arms. 

Okay, the cartoons were funnier that my description.

I thought it was Heleman and his “sons”. 
Frieberg loved to draw spiritual leaders with huge muscles to symbolize their spiritual strength. It’s not a look I care for, though I appreciate what he was try to do.

(a six foot person from that era from central  America would probably be considered a giant. From what I’ve read it seems like it was more normal to be smaller (compared to us today). 

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On 12/10/2021 at 11:45 AM, LoudmouthMormon said:

I have a love/hate relationship with artist's depictions of religious stuff.  I was able to salvage this from the church dumpster years ago, and have it hanging in my home office:

Two Thousand Young Warriors (Two Thousand Stripling Warriors)

At the same time, I'm really bummed out right now, trying to come to grips with how the manger probably actually looked.

Once more: Jesus was not born in a stable | Psephizo

The manger was a cave. 

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On 12/10/2021 at 11:45 AM, LoudmouthMormon said:

I have a love/hate relationship with artist's depictions of religious stuff.  I was able to salvage this from the church dumpster years ago, and have it hanging in my home office:

Two Thousand Young Warriors (Two Thousand Stripling Warriors)

At the same time, I'm really bummed out right now, trying to come to grips with how the manger probably actually looked.

Once more: Jesus was not born in a stable | Psephizo

man·ger
/ˈmānjər/
 
noun
  1. a long open box or trough for horses or cattle to eat from.
     
     
    The manger was a straw "crib substitute" , not the structure sheltering it
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8 hours ago, Olmec Donald said:

The French word for "to eat" is spelled the same way, though it's pronounced "MON-zhey". 

Hey thanks never put that together 

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