Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bible pictures: Cartoon Vs Realism

I would be interested to know your views on the above topic. So I've added a poll for you to vote on, at the bottom of the right hand column. Please spare a minute to vote.
(The poll is now closed. The results are below).

Most of the Bible pictures we produce are in a realistic style, apart from the parables, which I tend to do in a cartoon style.
We have found that those involved in presenting the Bible message to children prefer their pictures to be reasonably realistic. Some people are understandably turned off by cartoon depictions of the crucifixion.

I went into my local christian bookshop last week to browse, and I was amazed to find hardly any new children's Bibles containing realistic illustration. Nearly every new Bible on offer was a cartoon version.
Don't get me wrong, there are some excellent cartoon Bibles out there, and I think that there's room for Bibles illustrated in all styles. What bothers me is the lack of choice on offer. I'm not sure that christian publishers have their finger firmly on the pulse on this one.

When we brought out our '3D books', a few years ago, two were in a cartoon style, and two were realistic. The publisher predicted that the cartoon versions would outsell the others.
In fact, the reverse happened! The realistic style outsold the cartoon style by 2 to 1.

What happened to all the artists like J J Tossot, William Hole, Harold Copping, Henry Coller and of course, Frank Hampson?
Great Bible artists who all travelled to the Holy land to gather visual references and produced some of the best realistic Bible illustrations to date.

Let us know your opinion by voting in the poll!

The poll is now closed:
175 voted for Realistic Bible illustration.
15 voted for Cartoon Bible illustration.
3 voted as having no preference.
Many thanks for your votes and interest in the subject.


Paul Green said...

I much prefer realism in Bible stories. I know an Asterix type approach could work - mainly because that level of cartoon style artwork is of such a high quality it actually blends into an historical framework.
It's just a personal preference.

Bible artist said...

Yes! I would love to see Albert Underzo do some cartoon style biblical stuff. His attention to detail, (especially architectural), in 'Asterix and the Romans' was superb!

The artist that I would most like to have seen produce some biblical work in a realistic style would have to be Norman Rockwell.
I believe that he was asked on many occasions to paint the 'Life of Christ', but turned down the offer flatly! What a shame.

We can only imagine what those pictures would have looked like.

Unknown said...

Have you seen the new Bible being created by Thomas Nelson book publishers?

Keith Neely has illustrated the New Testament in comic book form using realistic illustration and it's really great to read! He used the ICB translation and did comic book layouts for the gospels and used a more magazine-like layout for the rest. You can read the book of John here...

Bible artist said...

Thanks for that. Yes I have seen keith Neely's Bible illustrations before, he has a nice style.
I noticed that you also have done Bible illustrations.
I will add a link to your site when I get a minute!

Maybe Keith would be a 'Guest Bible Artist' on the blog and provide an online interview, or an article about Bible illustration for us?

Jennifer Kathleen Phillips said...

I have been creating digital art based on biblical concepts, passages and themes...super realistic.... what do you think?

Bible artist said...

Great pictures Jennifer!
Some of them remind me of Salvador Dali's work.

Mrs. B said...

I'm aware that the poll for the topic is closed; however, you must consider the audience in which you are trying to reach. The realistic look is great for adults to give them a visual affect; however, the cartoon look grasps the attention of children. Ex. Cartoon network has a way of getting children focused on the TV excepted the message isn't always what we would want our children to learn. Now have you not noticed the realistic images (such as ourselves) they seem to ignore or not truly grasp the message of what we are trying to relay? Like what was stated before, just be sure to know who the audience is going to be when using the Bible picture. Be Blessed & Stayed Blessed! Mrs. B

Bible artist said...

Very good point Mrs B and I agree with you. I think that the point that I was trying to make at the time of posting was that there were no children's Bibles available containing traditional illustrations. I know that Thomas Nelson were looking at one point at re-printing Elsie A. Wood's pictures in a Bible (which would have been a great move) but there's no sign of that as yet.
Thomas Nelson are trying out some new styles in Bible illustration though which should be interesting. Their new Bible with illustrations by our friend Graeme Hewitson should be out soon. Graeme's style is cgi, similar to what you see in popular computer games so this should appeal to older children. It will be interesting to see if this leads to a flood of cg illustrated Bibles!