Ancient Wisdom for the Contemporary Age: A Talk with Aaron Trudgeon
By Mark Turner
The creation of any work of art takes a certain amount of passion and faith to endure the hurdles faced by anyone engaged in anything creative. How much more powerful is the endeavor when one’s faith is the subject given that very same passion? Such is the case with Ancient Wisdom Comics and their current project, The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Armed with an intense interest in the Gospels, and a desire to visually bring them to life, this creative team has stepped out to create what promises to be a moving tribute. These books attempt a broader picture of the familiar Bible tale, bringing the individual players into sharper focus, and thus, hopefully providing a more comprehensive understanding of a story most believe they already know. Taking time out of a busy schedule, writer Aaron Trudgeon shared a bit about the company’s current endeavor and what makes this project so unique.
IM: Currently, you and the team over at Ancient Wisdom Comics are working on adapting the Gospels of the New Testament into a graphic novel. Could you share a bit about this project?
AT: The project is entitled The Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a planned graphic novel of the Gospels that will have 109 chapters, with 16 pages in each chapter. The project will include original art and cut-and-paste images, as well as stock religious images to help tell the story. The images help tell the story, but the strongest point is really writing. I would say it is written culturally from a western mindset, with a very linear approach to the story going from point A to B (early start to the ascension). The team is aiming to create a work that merges all of the Gospels into one continuous story that is 99 per cent accurate in terms of how it relates to the source material.
IM: With a planned extended version of the Gospels clocking in at 109 chapters (at 16 pages for each chapter), how do you manage that work load? It sounds like a massive undertaking. Who is the creative team involved with the project? In terms of creating the look for the book, how did you come about taking this approach?
AT: Yes, it is quite a work load, but it is fun. I’m learning a lot and religious reading interests me. I have a team, but I’m the main producer, I just met with my first proofreader today; we did chapters 52, 53, and 54. My second proofreader is my wife Carol. Working with two proofreaders goes a long way in helping reduce all the small errors; I have others on the team to help check accuracy of content. I’ve been working on this a long time. I finally started to write in January of 2012, back when I still had a decent job working at a hospital. The hospital closed and I soon ran low on money, so we started using stock pictures. I quickly realized it worked quite well. Any scenes that I could not match up with stock images, I had an artist draw. The main artists are Larry Blake and Rachelle Westmoreland. The project also includes art unique to certain issues, including work by Larry Blake, Sean Bieri, George McVey, Dan Hyson, and John Nagridge. At this point, it’s turning out quite well; all chapters are written out and almost all pictures are done. We just have to be patient till the proofreaders are done.
IM: What would you say someone who reads this project will come away with?
AT: I would say with some confidence, that if someone were to read this, they could pass Christianity 101. Also all of Christianity, all denominations, everything out there was considered; only what stood the test made it into this project.
IM: Would you and the team over there at Ancient Wisdom Comics consider yourselves to be fans of the medium? Is there anything that you are reading currently that inspires you?
AT: Yes, we are comic book fans—also zine fans—who have been creating for years. We have a lot of mini-comics we have been doing for years. One comic book which we created in the late 90s is called Christianman (art by Larry Blake). It was a one-shot deal, but since that, and up to this point, we have been creating many mini-comics and zines. As far as my reading goes, I read all the time. Usually, I’m going through a book, but most of my reading has been this gospel comic, lately.
IM: Of all of the books in the Old and New Testaments, what made you decide to tackle the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
AT: I think that we decided to do the Gospel of Jesus Christ because of our interest in Christianity. Since Jesus is the focus of Christianity, the best place to focus our project on would be the Gospels.
IM: When is the project slatted to debut and where will fans be able to find it once it is available?
AT: Hopefully, by the end of this year or early 2016, it will be ready. Once it is, we think putting the book on Amazon would be a good idea; not sure how it would do in comic shops, since it is a hodgepodge of art, as we stated earlier. The writing is the strong part, pictures are just a help.
IM: Where can fans learn more about the project and Ancient Wisdom Comics?
AR: For now, fans can find out more about Ancient Wisdom Comics and our work on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/AncientWisdomComics