Kingstone Media is a comic studio that has set their goal exceptionally high. Their website states: “Kingstone’s goal is to become the ‘Marvel’ of the faith market, the leading publisher of Christian comic books and Biblical worldview graphic novels worldwide.” Christian comics with Marvel quality? Now that’s aiming high.
I’ve already done a couple of individual reviews of their work but for this one I’ll be doing an overview with four of their graphic novels in consideration at once. And I thought it makes sense to examine their work by the bar they’ve set for themselves: Are they the Marvel of Christian comics?
For this overview I read 4 very different graphic novels from Kingstone: The Remaining (an End Times story with a horror twist to it), The Book of God (a visually interesting explanation of how the Bible was written and came to us), The Lamb and the Fuhrer (written by a well known theologian, it’s a theoretical conversation between Jesus and Hitler in the afterlife) and last but not least, The Bible Volume 1: The Beginning (a graphic novel version of the first part of the Bible).
I’ve reviewed a number of Christian comics over the years and the best I’ve read come from Kingstone. Speaking as a pastor the content of these books was exciting in that they are accurate to the Bible while presenting them in a way that many people can enjoy. Speaking as a huge comic fan I enjoyed these books based on the high quality alone.
And that is the most important question: how good are Kingstone’s books as comics? Answer: Very good. These 4 books and others I’ve read from them each have different artists and writers but the styles, while all different in their own ways, are all consistently high quality. Despite the variety of creators spread out throughout these 4 books nowhere did I find a really weak link. Obviously some are stronger than others but I’d recommend any one of them.
The art is one area where Kingstone comics does, at least part of the time, definitely reach Marvel levels. And that only makes sense since, for example, artist Javier Saltares has actually worked for Marvel. He’s done multiple books for Kingstone and his work is consistently excellent. His characters, layouts, and overall style, which would work just fine drawing Spider-Man, serve in these books to bring biblical stories to dynamic life. The other artists are certainly no slouches either. Jeff Slemons is another artist that in my opinion is incredible. His handling of the Job story in the Bible Volume 1 really brought it to life. You could feel the emotions of the characters, and see beauty in the landscapes. His work in The Lamb and The Fuhrer is also very good, bringing the same deep emotions as well as very realistic depictions of Hitler and others. I could easily see his work on a Marvel comic.
Not all of Kingstone’s artists reach the Marvel level of course, but for an independent studio they’re all very good. And when it comes to both colouring and paper quality Kingstone’s books are absolutely top notch. In fact the consistently excellent colouring work is something that I found gave a unifying feel to the visuals of their books even when artists switched.
Kingstone has used a variety of people for their writing, a number of which have never written Comics before.
A pastor who is also Kingstone’s founder. A theologian and author. As you would expect, a variety of writers means a variety of quality in the writing. For example, having Dr Ravi Zacharias as one of their writers was quite cool to me since he is a well known theologian. However the result is that, whether it’s because of his theological focus or his lack of comic writing experience, the book comes across a little dry. While I still found it interesting I imagine a casual comic reader might not. On the other hand writers Ayris and Avery do an excellent job throughout The Bible Volume 1: The Beginning. They make the characters and stories pop while staying true to the Bible.
So, is Kingstone the Marvel of Christian comics? It depends what you mean by that. If you mean, are they the best Christian comics on the market? Absolutely. If you mean, are they as good as Marvel Comics? For such a small, unheard of studio they have shockingly great material. But let’s be honest, there’s only one Marvel Comics and Kingstone still ain’t them. Nonetheless they are worth a purchase and I think you’ll find a lot to enjoy.