Tag Archives: The Bible

Review: ‘Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus’ by Chester Brown

Mary Wept Jesus Chester Brown

Chester Brown is one of our treasured cartoonists, right up there with such greats as Seth and Daniel Clowes. Now, do the greats always get it right? No, I won’t say that but, on their worst day, I would prefer them over many another cartoonist. That said, Chester Brown’s latest graphic novel appears to be an ambitious continuation to “Paying For It,” his memoir on his relations with prostitutes. For his new book, he explores, among other things, the morality of prostitution by taking it all the way up to Jesus Christ in “Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus,” published by Drawn & Quarterly.

The narrative follows what seems like a loosely based collection of Bible stories but it turns out to be a carefully grounded argument in favor of the significant place for prostitutes in the Bible. In fact, Chester Brown argues here that the Virgin Mary was a prostitute or engaged in prostitute-like behavior. It can be asking a lot for some readers to accept. However, Brown provides a good deal of scholarship to back him up. And he lays it all out with compelling comics.

The book is really great in its honesty and clarity. I see where it might make an overly sensitive person feel sad with all the depiction of unfairness but that’s not the point at all. Chester Brown paints an authentic picture of the matter-of-fact harsh life of the Biblical era. Morality was a whole other creature in the Bible. We require this world depicted clearly in order to buy into the narrative.

Mary Wept The Bible Chester Brown

Brown is making the case that this is just how things were, this is how these people would have reacted to various behavior, and this is how the God in this Bible would have responded. It all follows a Biblical logic. And this allows Brown to make his argument seem all the less controversial. Sure, it would be well within reason that Mary could have, even would have, been a prostitute or engaged in prostitute-like behavior. It is not beyond the realm of what one would expect in the world of the Bible.

All this begs the question as to just how Brown and/or the Bible defines prostitution. How did people view prostitution in the world of the Bible? All things being relative, according to this graphic novel, residing in another village could inspire just as much, if not more, scorn than just being a prostitute. Ultimately, it was just another part of a harsh world. It was out in the open and, even if it inspired scorn, people were more honest about it than they are today.

Just as interesting as Brown’s observations on prostitution is his evocation of the world of the Bible. In Chester Brown Bible stories, we best see that world for what it is by having Brown turn up the heat a bit more. For instance, Brown includes the story of the prodigal son, the wayward lad who misspent his inheritance on prostitutes. The boy is embraced by his father and provided with a lavish celebration. There is the younger obedient son, the one who stayed home. But when he protests to his father, the father does not only ask for understanding, as commonly depicted in the Bible, he also explicitly chastises his loyal son for not having more initiative. The corrupt son is viewed as the hero. Might makes right. The industrious son is viewed as a fool. What Brown suggests is that this is going on implicitly in this story as well as in other Bible stories. It certainly feels that way.

“Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus” is a 280-page hardcover available now. For more details, visit Drawn & Quarterly right here.

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Filed under Chester Brown, Comics, Daniel Clowes, Drawn and Quarterly, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Seth, Sex

ECCC 2015: Top Shelf Productions and Shannon Wheeler & Mark Russell

IDW Publishing at Emerald City Comicon this year brings a wide variety of comics goodness. I wanted to point out that Top Shelf Productions, now an imprint of IDW Publishing, will be at booth #1225, where you can meet the creative team behind the hit satire “God Is Disappointed in You,” Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler! The book is very funny and informative. Read my review right here.

"God Is Disappointed in You," by Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler

“God Is Disappointed in You,” by Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler

Shannon Wheeler is a cartoonist best known for creating the satirical superhero Too Much Coffee Man, and as a cartoonist for The New Yorker. Find him here. Mark Russell is a writer and a cartoonist. His writing has been featured in McSweeney’s, The Nib, and Funny Times, among other places, and his cartoons are featured regularly at Nailed. Find him here. And, of course, you can definitely purchase “God Is Disappointed in You,” from Top Shelf Productions, right here.

Top Shelf Productions

I have a soft spot in my heart for the ebullient quality of Shannon’s cartoons. I include above a video interview I did with him at last year’s Comic-Con International: San Diego. Seems like the perfect blast from the past to share with all of you. Below are the details on the panel with Shannon Wheeler and Mark Russell:

Saturday, 2:00 – 3:00 Room Hall C (TCC 301)
God is Disappointed in You (The Sequel), with Mark Russell & Shannon Wheeler—Last year’s standing-room-only hot ticket returns — now with even more Biblical bewilderment! God Is Disappointed in You, published by Top Shelf, is the tongue-in-cheek “condensed” version of the Bible you never knew you needed — hilariously modern, but surprisingly authentic — packed with cartoons by Eisner-award-winner Shannon Wheeler (The New Yorker, Too Much Coffee Man). Join him and author Mark Russell (writer of DC Comics’ upcoming Prez) for an hour of unforgettable irreverence, including Q&A, audience sketches, and the hilarious-yet-accurate “ten-minute Bible.” PLUS: a taste of the Audie-nominated audiobook, read by Dr. Venture himself, James Urbaniak (The Venture Bros), and an exclusive announcement about the upcoming sequel!

For more details on the IDW schedule at ECCC, go right here.

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Filed under Cartoonists, Cartoons, Comics, Emerald City Comicon, God, Humor, IDW Publishing, Religion, Satire, Shannon Wheeler, The New Yorker, Top Shelf Productions

Easter Review: ‘God Is Disappointed in You’ by Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler

God-Jesus-Easter-Bible-Shannon-Wheeler

Can you take a joke? That is a good question. Well, what if a few jokes do some good? What if they actually educate you about the Bible?

Anytime is a good time to brush up on The Holy Bible. Today seems like an especially good day. And what better way than through the irreverent, and informative, “God Is Disappointed In You,” the hilarious guide to the holy tome, published by Top Shelf Productions.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Reviews, Shannon Wheeler, Top Shelf Productions