Alternate Universe: Christianity and Comic Books

Easter Story by Marvel Comics
Bible verses open and close this traditional story published by Marvel Comics (1993), told with color graphics and accessible language in speech bubbles.

Comic book readers have long been aware of a shared universe, where characters from different titles interact with each other and storylines mingle (think of the Avengers or the Justice League). The universe of Christian comics is probably less familiar to most readers, though College of Communication’s Blair Davis aims to change that. Dr. Davis has assembled a collection of Christian-themed comic books, funded through a Vincentian Endowment Fund grant, in support of his research and an upcoming book.  He recently donated this collection to Special Collections and Archives, and the reception to mark this occasion and to get a sneak preview of Davis’s research is scheduled for May 17, 2018, at 4:00 pm in John T. Richardson Library room 115.

Alpha and Omega panels
An obvious allusion in this futuristic retelling of the Adam and Eve story (Alpha and Omega) with the temptation of a red planet, which turns out to be a black hole with all the evils (historical and imagined) of the universe. Spire Christian Comics, 1978.

A small display case on the first floor of the Richardson Library features a selection of covers from this collection.  Items in the display case represent subgenres of Christian comic books and include traditional Bible stories illustrated in “a contemporary style,” Bible stories updated and retold with sci-fi futurism, didactic stories aimed at children with well-known or endearing characters, and a dark and dire anti-Catholic tract.  Some are published by religious presses (like Spire, Chick, and the Catechetical Guild) and others by mainstream publishers like Marvel and DC.

Barney Bear Tent Revival
Story geared for children with mishaps and madcap adventures that ends in a tent revival and an explicit call for children to take Jesus as their personal savior.  Published by Spire Comics, 1980, and illustrated by Al Hartley, of Archie Comics fame.

These comic books are a complement to the ongoing 1st floor exhibit, Cheap Thrills or, Selections from DePaul’s Pulps Collection. Like pulps and dime novels, comic books are inexpensive and are designed for pleasure reading.  These featured comic books, along with the dime novels and pulps, many of which are rare and fragile, can be consulted in Special Collections and Archives’s reading room. The library also has a collection of graphic novels that you can check out and read at your leisure.

Please mark your calendars for May 17, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. to learn more about these and other examples of Christian comic books and their place in popular culture. For questions or more information on our book collections, please contact Nora Gabor. To use these materials in an instruction session please contact Morgen MacIntosh Hodgetts or submit a request for instruction.

To learn more about DePaul Special Collections and Archives, visit us in room 314 of the John T. Richardson Library or contact us at

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