The Awesome Moments Manifesto

So, here’s an explanation of my thinking, so you can understand what I’m up to. Starting with the storyboards thus far.

Awesome Moments 1 is meant to be the gospel story, but I’m drawing on Revelation rather than, e.g. Matthew: start in Eden, and go all the way to the second coming. Here is Adam’s sin. Here is Christ as second Adam. Adam is the first King. Christ is the last King. The King slew a dragon with the cross. The King is coming back.

There’s the 12 pages of storyboard I have so far. Walking through these and explaining the decisions I’ve made will, I think, serve as a useful way to demonstrate what the Awesome Moments project is really, truly all about. So let’s go!

We open with the trinity. I’ve got the Father as the pillar of smoke and fire, so that when I do books later of the Exodus story, kids go “aha! I’ve seen that pillar of smoke and fire before.” I’ve got the Son as the lamb of God Crucified before all worlds, because Revelation tells us he was slain before the foundation of the world. I’ve got the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the deep in the form of a dove. It’s a bit of a phoenix in it as well. When I do the baptism of Christ, same dove. When I do Noah’s ark… well, the dove is going to look similar. These are echoes already in the Scriptures. I’m just calling them out.

Traditional Christian Art would have the Father awakening Adam from the dust of the earth. But I’m using Super Saiyan Jesus.

Dragon Ball Art - Goku Digital Paintings|The Dao of Dragon ...
This is a Super Saiyan. It’s an ultimate kung-fu demigod from a Japanese comic book.

This imagery is, again, based on Revelation. Jesus, except his hair is white and his skin is molten bronze, and he has stars in his hands. Christ ascendant.

It’s based on the notion from 1st John that without Christ, the Word, nothing was made that was made.

There is this notion that every time you see God walking or talking or doing human stuff in the Old Testament, it’s God the Son. Some sort of pre-incarnate incarnation of Him. I’m not even sure it’s pre-incarnate. God created time. He exists as much beyond time as within it. To my thinking, it’s 100% kosher that it’s the post-incarnate Son of God, who was born within time, grew up, was crucified, and resurrected in time, then took that body outside of time and used it to, e.g. walk with Adam in the garden of Eden, and negotiate with Abraham over the fate of Sodom.

When Genesis tells us God breathed the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils, I think he literally, physically did this. Adam woke to Jesus blowing on him, the same Jesus who gave his apostles the Holy Spirit by blowing on them with his mouth. I think when God said, “let us create Man in our own image”, the Imago Dei was more than just Adam was the spitting image of Jesus… but it was not less than this. Adam woke up to a Super Saiyan version of himself breathing into his nostrils.

I’m hedging my bets. The Scriptures don’t outright say that this is what happened. So I’m not going to explicitly say that this is what happened. But whenever the Scriptures have God interacting with humans in a human way in the Old Testament, it’s gonna be Super Saiyan Jesus in the illustration. I am going to strongly imply it, because I think the Scriptures strongly imply it.

My best customer is a convert to Roman Catholicism who sees this idea of christophany, of Christ walking around before the incarnation, as a Protestant cope. I’m not sure. I didn’t encounter it before converting to Lutheranism.

I want my Bible story books to be as (small-c) catholic as possible… as universally useful to Christians regardless of traditions, and I especially want my books to be useful to Dan and his family, because I love Dan and his family, but I’m unwilling to bend on this point. Christ repeatedly said that the Old Testament was always about Him. And the concept goes at least back to the Church Fathers, so, I’m gonna hold it’s a catholic idea.

This is the page I used to test my process, to see if I could produce illustrations that are final quality for the book. This is not the image I’m going to use in the book (I gotta scrub the clouds from the sky, as the flood hasn’t happened yet), but it does give a good idea of how the concept sketches are going to convert to final images.

Yes that’s a pterosaur in the background. Deal with it.

The serpent of Eden is the dragon of Revelation. He’s going to show up throughout. There’s going to be a page that shouts out the crucifix I drew ages ago:

There are also little hints of things.

You can only see four of them in the picture, but he’s gonna have six wings. (also, legs). Implication is he’s a fallen seraph. The snakes that bite the children of Israel in their desert wanderings, and the bronze serpent Moses made to heal said children, at God’s command, these are also called “seraphim”. If and when I get to that story, I aim to use a similar design aesthetic.

Once again, I’m not claiming anything here. I’m illustrating connections that may or may not exist because they are cool. If Lucifer were a seraph, and seraphim are fiery six-winged dragons, and little venomous dragons bit the Israelites, and Christ claims the bronze dragon image Moses made as a symbol of His own being raised up on the cross, then that implies…

That on the cross He became Sin for us. Which the Scriptures outright say. The implication is in harmony with the Revelation. Again, I’m not going to claim the implication is how things went down. I’m not even going to point it out with the text of the book. I’m just going to draw it that way because it’s the cooler way to draw it.

We’re going to take a break from theological implications in art for a moment and talk about process.

You’ll notice my storyboard has text, but my proof of concept image does not.

Krita, the art program I love and use for illustrating, does not handle text gracefully. The text is just there so I know how much space the text is going to take up, and so I have something to edit. Eventually, the typography will be done in Scribus.

Here’s my intended process:

  1. Storyboard the entire book as above.
  2. Using Scribus, create a PDF using the lousy storyboard art. Send this off to Amazon to be printed so I have a paper-mockup to edit.
  3. Get copies to my volunteer proofreader corps. And my pastor. And maybe a professional theologian if the internet will pay me to hire one…
  4. Take a breather.
  5. Run a Kickstarter to fund the production of the final book. Depending on how long it takes me to make the storyboards, this could be as early as December, but I suspect it will be around February. Also, I may do Kickstarter for Hat Trick first, which would push it even later. We’ll see what happens.
  6. If the Hat Trick Kickstarter doesn’t fund, I’ll just put off Hat Trick for a later date. But I will probably produce Awesome Moments when the Kickstarter concludes whether it funds or not. Because I want to get this book in my kids’ hands. It’ll just take longer and be harder.
  7. Taking the feedback from my proofreaders into consideration, edit the text, and create the under-drawings for the final art.
  8. Another round of proofreading. Professional editing if the Kickstarter pays for such.
  9. Produce final art, release as an 8.5×11 inch children’s book on Amazon KDP.

Alright. Let’s get back to the storyboards.

The Tree of Life is shaped like a crucifix. This is on purpose. This book aims to shout out the parallels between Eden, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. The Tree of Life in New Jerusalem, with its 12 branches, will probably appear in this book at the end, and it will definitely look like it grew from the Eden crucifix tree.

This is also the first appearance of Brown Adam instead of Pink Adam in the storyboards. I’ll pick a lane and stick with it for the final book, but I have three ideas of how to play Adam’s (and Christ’s) skin tone.

  1. Historically, realistically, Adam and Eve being the parents of all humanity, they were probably a mid brown. We have less information on how Christ would look — the range of skin tones in the modern Hebrew genome is pretty wide-ranging — but I’m guessing as the second Adam he would also be a mid-brown. Of course, I’m straight up representing the serpent of Eden as a fire dragon, so “sticking to what we know for sure” is not my modus operandi here.
  2. Christians around the world have historically recast Biblical figures as the local ethnos. Africa has Black Jesus, and Korea has Asian Jesus. I approve of this tradition. A Satanic cult dedicated to the destruction of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness likes to go around complaining loudly about “White Jesus” to try and make English Christendom feel ashamed of their history and culture, and I have half a mind to make Jesus (and Adam) white just to fling it in the teeth of this death cult.
  3. The other half my mind wants to put some kind of glow and glory on Adam prior to the fall. Super Saiyan Adam, less shiny than Super Saiyan Jesus, but still clearly radiant. Then, we can contrast this with non-glowing post-fall Adam, stained by sin.

I’m probably going to go with a combination of 1 and 3. I have no hope of making art with lasting value, but I owe it to my audience to try, and taking time out of my day to spit on the Zeitgeist, while a noble cause, does not lend itself to timelessness. But, I have no need to decide now! The book will probably take a week or two to draft, and then it will be a month or three before I do the final art. I have plenty of time to mull it over.

Genesis tells us the as-yet unnamed Eve gave some of the fruit to Adam “who was with her.” Not many Garden of Eden books bring out the fact that Adam was present. Nor do they tell us what Paul told us, that Adam “was not deceived.” Thus, Adam’s sin, not Eve’s sin, damned mankind and doomed the Earth.

Of course, I have sin and death here represented by parasitical tar, like the Venom Symbiote of Marvel fame, or Hexxus from Ferngully. (It’s not plagiarism if you steal from two unrelated sources.)

I suspect we shall see purple tar sin again in future books.

This book is not about Adam and Eve. It is meant to be about Christ from beginning to end. Perhaps one day I shall make a book that will cover Creation or Eden in more depth; this book is meant to be the 5,000 foot overview of salvific history that all the future books hook into, so that we see the context.

I haven’t storyboarded my way out of Eden yet. But we’re not staying long. As soon as we’ve established the mirror of Calvary, we’re racing off to the birth of Christ.

Epilogue

I don’t have much intention to explain every little piece of my plans in this level of detail. But it was necessary to do it once so that you understand why this project exists, why it’s important to me.

My religion is an epic religion. Behind the veil, dragons do battle with winged warriors. Before the veil, men drink the blood of their God. And the Cross of Christ rings like a bell, echoes and harmonies of this sound reflecting from every rock and tree from the dawn of time to its end.

The Resurrection is a real event, where our crippled bodies will be reknit into glories that would terrify us now. We don’t look forward to harps in clouds after death, but to a life of creating treasures on Earth Reborn to parade in New Jerusalem before our King. This is the hope we can fling in death’s teeth — a real hope, not a pious imagining.

This is the faith I would pass on to my children. And most children’s Bible books aren’t trying to pass this faith on. They are trying to encourage little kids to be nice and share your teddy grahams with the other kids because Jesus is a nice cartoon guy with rosy cheeks. They are trying to give trite moral lessons out of narratives that were never meant as morality plays, but as echoes of Christ.

I am not up to the task! But as I see no other man undertaking it, it would seem I needs must do what I can.

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