A comic book which narrated the life of St John XXIII has been re-issued 50 years after its initial release.
The Story of Pope John XXIII (MSJT Publishing) is a re-issue of a profile written and drawn by Joe Sinnott, an artist known for inking memorable Marvel titles – such as Thor and the Avengers – from the golden age of comics.
In the early 1960s Sinnott, a Catholic, was busy with a Marvel series called The Fantastic Four when he got a call from George Pflaum, the head of Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact, a publisher of faith-themed comics. He had seen Mr Sinnott’s work and wanted him to create a biography of the pope.
Mr Sinnott decided then to take leave of absence to devote his attention to the Treasure Chest project.
More than 50 years later, the resulting narrative has been lavishly republished as a handsome oversized red hardback. This was made possible by a Kickstarter campaign that succeeded in raising more than $10,000.
The volume’s colour restoration, which was done by artist Leonardo Ito, is regarded as an improvement on the original comic. The paper is now a high-grade glossy stock that gives the colours a richness that the first version, printed on less expensive paper, could not match.
The book is a straightforward account of the pontiff’s life.
The fourth of 13 siblings, Roncalli was born into a family of Italian sharecroppers November 25, 1881. Ordained a priest in 1904, he rose through the ranks of the papal diplomatic corps, serving as apostolic visitor to Bulgaria, apostolic delegate to Turkey and Greece as well as nuncio to France before becoming a cardinal, and the patriarch of Venice, in 1953. He was elected pope five years later.
As John XXIII, Roncalli foreshadowed the current pontificate by bringing a more freewheeling style to his office. As Sinnott’s work shows, this was a pope who wandered the Vatican gardens alone, sometimes startling workers there. He renewed an ancient Lenten rite by washing the feet of a group of young priests on Holy Thursday.
John was known to be witty: when asked how many people worked in the Vatican, he famously replied, “About half.”
Suitable for readers of all ages, Sinnott’s biography was originally published in 1962, the year its subject convened the Second Vatican Council. Pope John died the following June, and was canonised April 27, 2014.
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