Holy Scrolls: The Origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls, (November 2007), Lamp Post, Inc, Brett Burner (writer), Diego Candia (artist), B & W, 35 pp. (free download from wowio.com)
Let me tell you a secret. Educational comics don’t have to be boring. The story of the Holy Scrolls starts off with a young boy peering through a museum display case exclaiming, “This is so completely lame! I can’t believe I’m stuck here looking at scraps of old paper!”
He is then confronted by a friendly old man who proceeds to tell him about those “lame” —” scraps of old paper. The elder gentleman weaves a spell binding tale that begins with the conquests of Alexander the Great, the desecration of the Jerusalem Temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the rise of the Maccabees and their successful revolt against foreign rulers. He goes on to describe the Essene sect who established the community of Qumran near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. The Essenes were diligent scribes who kept and copies of numerous scrolls of the Torah (the Hebrew Bible) and other important writings. These paper and leather scrolls were later placed and sealed in clay jars. When the Roman General Titus and his armies conquered Jerusalem in 70 AD crushing the Jewish revolt, the Essenes hid these clay jars with they precious contents in obscure caves near Qumran. There they remained until 1947 when a bedouin boy threw a stone in one of the caves and heard a smashing sound. He later investigated and found the ancient jars. The story then plays out like a modern spy novel with mystery and intrigue as the scrolls finally come to the attention of the international scholarly community.
This story is filled with great action scenes, drama, danger and excitement. This is not a dull talking heads comic book lecture but an dynamic true story that makes dusty history come alive. The mysterious old man suddenly vanishes leaving the stunned boy and the reader wondering who he actually was. As the young boy proclaims at the end while again looking into the glass display case to his parent’s pleasant surprise, “…this is so cool.”
Brett Burner with the help of Biblical scholars Dr David Noel Friedman and Dr. Pam Fox Kuhlken has turned in a script that should be used in coming years as a primer showing how to do educational comic books right. Artist Diego Candia does a very professional job using varied panel layouts, dramatic drawing and historical research to make this a convincing story visually. This comic is a great page turning read for any age but especially for young people who think Biblical history is “lame.”