Dear Theo is a book I illustrated last year for Biblica¹. A full print run and release is scheduled during 2018. It is a combined volume of the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. The ‘Dear Theo’ title comes from the opening paragraph in each volume where Luke is explicit about wanting the ‘most excellent Theophilus’ to know that just how certain the foundations of the Christian faith are.
Here are some background/process notes:
The Jesus Comic
A few years back, I had the idea of creating a visual version of the story of Jesus to reinforce and supplement material I was delivering in the classroom. I didn’t intend it as a replacement for the Bible text, but as a kind of complement or alternative way of reflecting on the taught material (fancy-pants educational theorists call this ‘dual coding’). I worked through this project and eventually self-published it as ‘The Jesus Comic’. I was so proud to have Dave’s Comics in Brighton support me in selling copies of my first book!
Then, working with a couple of kind friends², we also released an iOS app version. It was very exciting. We didn’t turn the world upside down but it did sell a few hundred copies.
After this I was approached by The Goodbook Company³ and the material was edited into a more streamlined version which was titled ‘Life Changer’. Lots changed⁴, but I was delighted to be published and contribute to a wider audience.
Just after I started selling ‘The Jesus Comic’ there, the manager of Dave’s Comics had made a throwaway comment to me about my ‘next’ project that wormed it’s way deeply into my mind. He suggested doing something about the book of Acts (for those who aren’t clued into the BIble, this is the account of the early adventures of Jesus’ followers after he had died, resurrected and ascended).
Eventually I succumbed to this prompt and spent a number of weeks working my way through the narrative in the Acts of the Apostles . Taking a blank sketchbook, I printed out the entire text and pasted each of the 28 chapters onto double pages with lots of space for scribbling as I went.
I worked through each section intensively for a number of weeks. In the end I had a lot of unrefined imagery and ideas bouncing around. It was provisionally named ‘TAOTA’ (The Acts of the Apostles) and then stored away for a couple of years.
After a few false starts and pauses I was eventually signed up with Biblica⁵ in 2016 to produce a 100+ images to accompany a volume of Luke/Acts combined. I was able to take a lot of my prior thinking and adapt it to something useful.
The process at this stage was typical of my work at the time - working with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, I used Notability to draft quick roughs on a multi-page PDF before completing the finals in Procreate.
In the end I have been delighted with this project - Trevor Wilson and John Dunham were a pleasure to work with. The NIrV translation text works really well alongside the images. Here is a link if you are interested in purchasing a copy.
¹ Formerly known as the Bible Society.
² Tony Waghorn and David Butler no less.
³ Thankyou Tim Thornborough.
⁴ The American market associated ‘Comic’ with something less serious so they changed it. The cover had a different orange - more fluorescent. Production-wise I used a iPad3, a Maglus Stylus and Adobe Ideas to draw the vector images. One other huge change was the impact of being edited - the result is tightly focused and has a greater clarity to it. I learnt loads about working through the editorial process and letting go of those sacred little darlings (thanks, Carl Laferton).
⁵ Thankyou Trevor Wilson.