DC's Bible, Limited Collectors Edition C-36

Limited Collectors’ Edition C-36, July 1975 (click image for full version)

Sheldon Mayer’s pet project, DC’s version of The Bible fell into Joe Kubert’s editorial lap. Mayer and Kubert had known each other for decades, probably since Kubert first worked professionally in comics at the tender age of 11 in 1938. It was around the same time that Mayer was recommending to editor Vin Sullivan that a much-rejected strip called Superman might be a good feature for the new Action Comics magazine. By 1975 Kubert was an editor and Mayer was something of an elder statesman at DC. Although his regular work writing and drawing Sugar and Spike had come to an end, he was kept on staff as an advisor and oversaw special projects, etc.

DC The Bible, Redondo, frontispiece

Mayer had long had the notion of adapting the Bible into comics form and he wrote a script based upon several stories from the Old Testament. During his research he read various translations and consulted learned historical commentaries, shaping his script accordingly. Kubert then did fairly detailed layouts indicating the flow of the story from panel to panel and an indication of what he wanted included in the final drawings. This was a common working method on Kubert’s books, and was especially useful when dealing with the Filipino artists DC was using at the time. The layouts helped avoid problems with translating the scripts: it was more than one editor who discovered to his horror that a foreign artist had completely misunderstood the script.  For The Bible project Nestor Redondo was given the task of realising and finishing Kubert’s layouts.

DC Bible, Redondo, splash page

Redondo did much to embellish the art and, while I’m sure a solo Kubert version would have been great, it’s Redondo’s work that makes the final book so special. Quite rightly it was decided to print at the large-format tabloid size as Limited Collectors’ Edition C-36. Indeed, The Bible was the very first of DC’s tabloids to feature all-new work especially created for the format. At the time it had the reputation of being one of the most expensive comics ever produced. And, boy, it was worth every penny! Beneath the glorious Kubert cover there are over 50 pages of sumptuous Nestor Redondo artwork, each and every one lush in its cross hatched detail. Redondo doesn’t skimp on even the most insignificant panels. In addition, Kubert himself drew several feature pages looking in more depth at aspects of Biblical times.

The Bible stories included are: Genesis and the creation and fall of Adam and Eve; Cain and Abel; Noah and the flood; the Tower of Babel; Abraham; and ends with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

DC Bible, Redondo, Sodom & Gomorrah

The splash page is marvellous—worth the price of admission on its own! In fact, the whole Garden of Eden sequence has some of the most beautiful art work ever done in comics. Redondo was always a class act, but he really seemed to raise his game for this. The book has recently been reprinted in a handsome facsimile version (although I wonder at the decision to credit Kubert alone on the cover), so now is the time to seek it out and treat yourself.

The Bible was intended to be the first of a series, including a volume devoted to stories from the New Testament, but, sadly, this never came to pass.

DC Bible, Redondo, Adam & Eve

Redondo was something of a ubiquitous presence in 1970s DC comics. He did a lot of one-offs for the publisher’s mystery line, but his most sustained work was a 13 issue run on Swamp Thing following Berni Wrightson. And there’s a brilliant little book called Rima that ran 7 issues that’s just gorgeous. Redondo was also the artist on one of comics’ greatest “lost” stories: King Arthur. Advertised several times around 1975, and apparently to consist of at least four tabloid volumes, King Arthur was never published. Although about a dozen pages of King Arthur are known to exist, the book was solicited so often (I’ve seen it listed in several sources) I can’t believe that they were all that was completed.

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