Designing the cover for The Book of Judges

In the video below, I discuss the cover design of The Book of Judges. 

This book, along with The Book of Judges, launches this month, on September 9th. 

You can buy the book here on the website now. 
https://wordforwordbiblecomic.squarespace.com/

Blog asking for opinions on the Cover Design

https://wordforwordbiblecomic.squarespace.com/blog/have-your-say-judges-cover-too-bloody

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Designing the cover of The Book of Ruth

In the video below, I discuss the cover design of The Book of Ruth. 

This book, along with The Book of Judges, launches this month, on September 9th. 

You can buy the book here on the website now. 
https://wordforwordbiblecomic.squarespace.com/

Blog asking for opinions on the Cover Design
https://wordforwordbiblecomic.squarespace.com/blog/cover-for-ruth

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Tiny but Mighty: How did Samson kill a thousand men?

In Judges chapter 15, Samson uses the jawbone of a donkey to slay a thousand Philistines. In my project of drawing the stories of the Bible unabridged and as accurately as possible, I truly agonised over this and explored many different ways I could depict the actions.

In this article, I'll expound a few of the issues which came up during the research and my decision-making process.

Was Samson a muscle bound hulk?

In every depiction on screen or comics I had ever seen, Samson was always represented as large and greatly muscle bound. Like a body builder or giant strong he bounds into combat. Even in Jewish tradition, he is said to have four foot wide shoulders and be able to jump from one mountain to another in a single bound. In these broadly accepted the implied interpretation is that Samson's blessing from God was an increased natural potential for strength within, or close to, the natural scope.

But as many who've read the story in the scripture may have realised this is not likely to be the case.

Throughout the story, no character makes mention of his robust appearance nor treats him differently which one might think people would if he was a walking mountain.

In fact, in Judges 16:5 the Lords of the Philistines ask Delilah if she can discover the "secret of his great strength" which one would not do if the answer was obvious I.e. "his huge muscles". These lords are also given solutions to defeat Samson which imply his strength is magical in nature and can be mystically undone with seven fresh bow strings , new ropes that have never been used or weaving his hair into a loom, they believe this conjecture enough to act upon it.

Additionally, the feats Samson achieves through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit are not really any more possible for 'the world's strongest man' as they would be for it's weakest. The most well-trained knight or samurai wielding a masterwork blade may be able to defend themselves against even up to a dozen assailants, let's go crazy and say two dozen, but Samson, un-armoured and all but unarmed, takes out a thousand armed warriors in one encounter, and an encounter in which they are not ambushed or unaware but intentionally trying to apprehend or kill him. The point being no mere human, no matter how trained or, could achieve such a feat, and even emerge apparently uninjured.

So, in I believe his appearance was unremarkable in regards to his physique.

Really One thousand men?

Some have wondered whether the translation of the source text is completely correct, the word for one thousand in Hebrew (אָ֫לֶפ) does rarely have other meanings, like family, clan, and division, so some have argued this could be a word which implies a military grouping, like a battalion. The same way Romans used Centurion for an officer who "usually" command one hundred men (cent, or course meaning a hundred), but they didn't always, some had a little less but others, senior Centurions had command of cohorts without taking on a different title.

The point being that, even if this word was a designation of a military group, and the Hebrew root of the word was linked to their word for one thousand, one would not expect the number of men to be so few that a mere man could kill them all. I discuss this argument, but I must point out, it is a very weak standpoint anyway as the use of the word "eleph(אָ֫לֶפ) doesn't really allow for any interpretation but the number one thousand in this context. Personally, I doubt it was one thousand to the dot, as the Bible often uses rounded figure for things as we do in everyday life.

In this diagram that I did to help me visualise the scale you can see the thousand Philistines facing off against Samson.

Samson had already killed a group of thirty and a group of warriors in a town whose number are unknown but from the context seem to be an even greater number. In my own representation of the battle, I have implied that there are at least one thousand men there. In one image around five hundred and fifty can be seen together. (At the top of this page)

Did Samson kill all of them?

We are told Samson kills one thousand but were there even more there at the "battle" who weren't killed? I would suggest there were more than the number killed in the field that day. The first reason is simply the logical assumption that at some point the warriors would have seen the tide turn against them and flee. With so many men running in all directions I suspect many got away.

From scripture, we can see that the Philistines charge the men of Lehi to bring Samson in, shortly before this fight. But the men of Lehi muster three thousand men for the task. If the Philistines had only one thousand men on this campaign surely there would have been of turning the Judahite forces against their oppressors. I'd infer that this Philistine force was not outnumbered three to one, but likely a more even number.

Whether the men Samson defeated were dead or not is actually not clear from the Hebrew word "nakah" (נָכָה), it can mean killed or slaughtered, but also strike, smite, defeat and other such words. So it is likely that not all the men or even the majority died at his hand but as the NIV puts it they were "struck down". 

How to represent Samson's strength in a comic?

At the start, I had a lot of ideas about how to represent the great strength Samson was bestowed with for a long while. I thought I'd depict it like a Warp Spasm from the Slainé comics, (a little like the Incredible Hulk if you are unfamiliar with Slainé- click here for images). In the end, I doubted this is how it went down in real life so I gave up on that idea. I toyed with the idea of having the normal man surrounded by a of himself that was transparent and showed that it was the Spirit that strengthened him but I couldn't make it look good in my concept sketches.

I reflected on the fact that he managed to kill so many men without them getting away. One would think that even in an army of that after the hundredth man had fallen that you'd want to quit the field. I supposed that this miracle was as much about inhuman speed as it was about strength. This I have implied in the final image of him in the battle as he strikes several men in one moment and the jawbones trail in the colour that represents the Holy Spirit. I also considered the fact that he seems to be uninjured after the battle and wondered how he could possibly have defended himself so well having been surrounded by so many in all directions. I concluded that every movement must have been guided by the omniscience of The Spirit. I represented this by showing that as Samson was fully engaged in this power he shut his eyes and was completely guided by the unseen hand of The Lord.

I was unsure how to represent this empowerment until I watched Sucker Punch in 2011, in which the main character "Baby Doll" is empowered before fighting giant mechanical Samurai! In they use the classic trope of swirling Chi power rising around the hero. I realised this would be a great way to show an empowerment from without if the swirls of power were clearly the Holy Spirit.

(Wow, I found an official clip of the right bit! The part I talk about is 4mins 30secs in. but you should watch the whole thing) 

In summary

It seems likely that physically Samson was no bigger than anyone else. A careful study of the timelines involved in the stories reveals that Samson is near contemporaneous with Goliath himself. Thus I do not believe sheer size would have impressed nor baffled the Philistines so greatly.

If you'd like to read the 15 pages of The Word for Word Bible Comic that lead up to and include this battle, you can view it here...

https://wordforwordbiblecomic.squarespace.com/web-comic/

I hope you enjoyed this essay and found it informative. I'd love you to comment below if you agree or disagree with any of these points.

______________________


If you're interested in a similar type of discussion about Samson's encounter with the lion, go to my other blog -

https://wordforwordbiblecomic.squarespace.com/blog/why-did-the-lion-attack-samson-biblestudy-bgbg2

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Have Your Say: Judges Cover too Bloody?

In September the books will be produced for the official launch of the Word for Word Bible Comic. I am considering whether or not to revise the cover of The Book of Judges. Someone has suggested that having a bloody image on the front cover might not be such a great idea if it is going to be stocked in places where young kids will also be. 

This is the cover as it is now...

1 Judges cover.jpg

The question revolves around Samson at the bottom. He has blood on him and dropping from the jaw bones. 

So basically, the reasons to consider changing it are that smaller kids who see it might find it scary and therefore shops might not want to display it. 

Options...

I don't have time to completely redesign the cover, but here are a few options, with rough examples...

Keep it the same - vote for this is you don't think it's too scary and there is nothing to worry about. Reasons to keep it as it is are that it looks good, it gives kids the right impression of what is inside, and make it clear to parents that it's not aimed at little kids. Also, that's how the picture was designed and changing it could be a hassle and might be a mistake. 

Keep the same colours but remove the blood - This would be ok, but as his shirt is all ripped and there is already some bodies at his feet it might look strange that there is no blood, but then again a lot of films are violent but bloodless today. However, I think it's a bit boring compared to the others.

Make the blood into brown, like mud, instead - This idea came from a misprint I had of the cover that was dark. The blood was browny and so it would look like mud to a child but most people would realise it must be blood, in context. Two examples, A and B below.

A

A

B

B

Make him a red silhouette- In this option, he is still red but as he's not really coloured so it looks a bit like an effect not that bloody, but again adults will realise it is symbolic of blood. 

What do you think? 

Please add a comment below or on the social media platform you found it on. You are not limited to these choices, of course, please make all the suggestions you can, we love to hear your thoughts. 

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July Progress Report and Newsletter

Welcome to July's newsletter, especially to all our new subscribers! Below we look at the progress of the project, new blogs and videos, things you can give your opinion about and also opportunities.

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Progress

Well, this has been a manic month of creating the comic. In last month's update, we told you that we'd decided to pause creating the Book of Joshua and quickly start and finish the Book of Ruth.

All the team has been working super hard to get it done in time. Today I have just finished inking the last page of Ruth and now I just have to create the cover (see below) and add some finishing touches to several pages.

I'd like to say a big thank you to Ryan (colourist) and Leslie (colourists and print-ready expert) who've done a great job this last month, and especially to my wife who has had the kids a lot more than normal and all the nights alone while I stayed up very late to get more hours in. 

A few more pages of Joshua also got coloured this month too and the plan is to have that complete by Spring.

Note: Kickstarter backers from the Joshua campaign who put in a certain amount will all get a digital copy of Ruth sent to them soon, probably at the start of August.

Progress The Book of Ruth July . The Word for Word Bible Comic


Wanna be a Super Fan?


Do you want to be a super fan of the Word for Word Bible Comic? Are you really keen on the project and want to help it to succeed? If so, just add yourself to the super fans list (link below). 

There will be extra benefits but also a small (non-financial) commitment from you. Uh oh. 

We'll ask you to share things on social media, 'like' and 'comment' on key posts, add reviews on places like Amazon when the book is out, give me your opinions on things like the questions below or maybe even proof-read things for us. As a reward, we'll send you insider previews of characters and stories, little exclusive videos, maybe even physical rewards.

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Have your say: Cover for the Book of Ruth


I'm about to create the cover for the Book of Ruth, and I have created a blog where you can give your opinion on which on you think is the best option or the best elements involved which I should use. I'd love you to look at the blog so you can see the picture more closely and comment there (or you can email me your opinion). The more information the better even if it was all negative. 

https://wordforwordbiblecomic.squarespace.com/blog/cover-for-ruth

Have your say: Bible verse to quote with the Book of Ruth


This one is a bit more of a challenge. In the Book of Judges at the beginning, we inserted a little verse before the story began. In that case, we used the verse "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but God weighs the heart." (Proverbs 21:2), which helps frame and interpret the meaning of the narrative of Judges. We'd like to do this again, if possible. It could be from the new or old testament, but we want it to be a little bit subtle so it provokes thought in non-Christian readers but will not put them off. Also, it shouldn't give away the ending of the tale as for some this will be their first exposure to the story.

Can you suggest a good verse to proceed the book to help to do one or more of these things?: Augment the story of the book, make the reader think philosophically, set the tone, speak of perseverance, loyalty, hope, righteous women, widows, or be a relevant proverb etc. 

Email your suggestions in to us, please. 


The Men's Conference I displayed at


Two weeks ago I had a stall at the Christian men's weekend called The Gathering. It went really well, despite the mud and the rain. I made a couple of important contacts, sold many of the pre-release special prints of the Book of Judges. Thank you to all who prayed for a good outcome there. 

Prayer Requests


If you are a praying person I'd love you to look at these areas we are seeking the Lord for, and either give a quick amen or to add them to your list for ongoing prayer support.

Promo - Please pray that the magazines and other media that we contact are keen to report about or review the comic in September so we can get the maximum coverage and that it will miraculously snowball so everyone can here about it.

Events - I have a huge New Wine event this month, as well as a comic con in Shrewsbury. Please pray the book sells well and I make good contacts there.

Financial- Since the start of this project we have been living by faith financially, we've been really blessed with the Kickstarters and gifts we've been given, but please pray God continues to carry us through as this time ahead is critical to the ongoing full-time nature of the project.

Have Your Say: [Now Extended] Choose a Cover for the Book of Ruth

EDIT: If you are reading this for the first time, I am editing it now to include the more advanced developments on the same post. If you are reading for the second time skip down to the coloured versions. Phase 2. 

In this short blog, I have presented three sketched options of the cover art for the Book of Ruth (below). It also gives you a sneaky peak at the characters in the book. 

Phase one: 

Please have a good look at these three options and tell me which you like the best by commenting below. If you like elements of more than one please include this in your comment. 

Please consider the composition, characters, items included, etc. I won't tell you my preference but I'll give you some notes about each 

All three use just the starting elements of the story, not the conclusion so as not to spoil the ending for those who have not read the story before, (grief, death and ears of barley, not love and marriage). Other themes I could include are famine, more death with skulls etc but I think this cover should be ok for younger readers as this title is likely to only be an advised age rating of 12+. I wanted it to be primarily females on the cover as so many other books in the series will have very few female protagonists. 

Click to expand the image.

A: Has Boaz as a silhouette none of the others include him at all, Ruth's not doing much maybe she should be different.

B: Has the most unique composition. It's the only one to have death on the cover.  

C: The only one I got the ancient image into (the figures on the right, will be Moabite carvings). This one is similar to the Judges one, possibly too similar. 

Edit: Thank you to everyone who commented on these three, you are still welcome still do so, but also read on to Phase 2. 

Phase 2: 

I've taken the feedback from the first phase and developed the two options people liked more to include the elements people felt were important. I've added colours so you can see the difference or similarity with the Judges Cover (below) Again please have a look and then comment below. (See bear in mind, they are very rough still. I'm aware of the short arm, manly faces etc). Lastly, I added the logo and titles to both make it look closer to the finished piece, but also so we can see if it is too similar to the previous book with these extra consistent elements. 

Image 1 (on the left) or Image 2 (on the right)

Image 1: 

  • From the feedback people agreed for various reasons that the focal point should not be the death of  Ruth's husband, Naomi's son. But a suggestion was made to have Elimelek and the family starving and setting off on their journey .
  • I wanted to Include the ancient images and decided to put then faintly on the path.
  • The sunrise represents hope and a new beginning
  • The roughly drawn animal skeletons on the middle talk of the famine in the land at the start of the book.  
  • It has a strong composition and due to the colours it has a very different feel to the Judges cover. 
  • This cover still has no Boaz, but he could be on the back cover. 

Image 2: 

  • I changed Naomi to face forward to be a little different to Deborah on the Judges cover. She has her eyes open and her expression is/will be bitterness.
  • Behind Naomi I added a barley field, which could also have the sunrise potentially.
  • I adjusted Ruth to look more 'determined' than angry, with closed eyes and a clenched fist. 
  • The Ancient images appear in a smokey haze the same a Judges.
  • I squeezed Boaz in in the path looking back at Ruth. I might make him a white silhouette. 

Please comment below or on the social media platform you found the post on, even if it's just one letter, but I'll love to hear all your thoughts and opinions about it. 

For Reference here is the cover from Judges

Cover from The Book of Judges : The Word for Word Bible Comic

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