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Pope Francis becomes comic book superhero
Rome, 11 January 2014: At first it was a portrait of Pope Francis that could only be seen from above. Then came a wax statue that drew visitors from around the world. But now comes a comic book with the Pope as its superhero.
Titled “Pope Francis. I Believe in Mercy,” the manga comic book is based on the life of Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, from his background to his preaching style. Manga artist Sean Lam made the illustrations based on the writings of American author Regina Doman.
Doman told the Rome Reports that she was asked to write the comic the same week the Pope was elected in March 2013. “And so I was alone out there, with all the others journalists, you know, trying to find out about this man, Jorge Bergoglio, who had been elected to the Chair of St. Peter. And I found absolutely fascinating that he is our first Pope from the Americas, from Latin America.”
The comic book starts when young Jorge Bergoglio discovers his vocation in Buenos Aires, and goes all the way to the day of his election as Pope and his first words as Pontiff from the balcony St. Peter’s.
“Although Pope Francis just to many people would look like an ordinary man, I think that his short time in the Papacy has shown us that he truly is a superhero. First of all, he is not afraid, he is not afraid of people, no matter how ugly they may seem to other people,” Doman said
It is not the first time she and Sean Lam join forces to illustrate the life of a Pope: they have also produced a story on Benedict XVI called ‘Habemus Papam!’ (We have a Pope).
The term manga is a Japanese word referring both to comics and cartooning. “Manga” as a term used outside Japan refers specifically to comics originally published in Japan, where people of all ages read comics. The manga in Japanese can be translated as “whimsical drawings” or “impromptu sketches.”
Manga are comics created in Japan or by Japanese creators in the Japanese language, conforming to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century. The medium includes works in a broad range of genres: action-adventure, romance, sports and games, historical drama, comedy, science fiction and fantasy, mystery, suspense, detective, horror, sexuality, and business/commerce, among others.
Since the 1950s, manga has steadily become a major part of the Japanese publishing industry, representing a ¥406 billion market in Japan in 2007 (approximately $3.6 billion) and ¥420 billion ($5.5 billion) in 2009.
Manga have also gained a significant worldwide audience. In Europe and the Middle East the market is worth US$250 million. The manga market in the U.S. and Canada was valued at US$175 million In 2008.
Manga-influenced comics, among original works, exist in other parts of the world, particularly in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and South Korea.