Gene Luen Yang on the Catholic Church & Comics

Greg Yang at the Catholic Library Association Meeting on April 16, 2009, Hyatt, Anaheim

Gene Yang at the Catholic Library Association Meeting on April 16, 2009, Hyatt, Anaheim

Talk about an “Ah ha!” moment! Yesterday I attended a workshop at the Catholic Library Assoication’s annual gathering and heard comic genius Gene Luen Yang speak about the Catholic Church and Comics.

Yang gave a fascinating history of comics, the roots of comic book heroes in the Hebrew Bible, the Church’s iffy relationship with and attitude toward comics from the 1930’s on (I know a lot about the Legion of Decency and movies but I had never heard of the “List of Publications Disapproved for Youth” that included comic books – and the pledge that Catholics were urged to take against comic books back in the 1940s. I tried to locate the list online but only found references to a similar list in post-war France.) Even in U.S education, researchers tried to make a link between juvenile delinquency and the reading of comic books.

Gene Yang has an impressive resume and I am very happy to let you know that Pauline Books & Media published a comic book written and illustrated by Greg (we also have a comic book about Padre Pio and John Paul II):

Gene made everyone laugh when he said that it took him so long to finish the 15 mysteries of the Rosary and just when he had finished, Pope John Paul came up with the Luminous mysteries… and it was back to the drawing board – literally.

Check out Gene’s website at Comics in Education. Hearing him speak made me esteem comic books as he defined them: “juxtaposed images in deliberate sequences in order to convey an idea or evoke an aesthetic response”. He made a case for stained glass windows and even the Sistine Chapel as evidence of the Catholic Church’s sacramental understanding of art… and the use of sequential images to tell a story.

Gene makes a solid case for comic books (anime, manga, graphic novels) as … art that can lead to greater literacy and understanding.

In 2007 Yang won the Prinz Award for young adult literature, a first for a graphic novel. (See more on


1 Comment

  1. I, too, was lucky to be there at the Anaheim Hyatt CLA convention to hear the impressive presentation by Gene Luen Yang–Printz winner for American Born Chinese.

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