VCU Libraries Gallery

Gods and Prophets, Sages and Saints: Religious Imagination in Popular Culture

Superman is Jewish.   Ms. Marvel is Muslim.

The history of comics is filled with characters working out their cultural and spiritual identities. Their world, like the world we live in, is permeated with moral questions and religious thinking. And while the temptation is to assume that religious expression in popular media must be kitsch--or at least bad art--and probably bad theology, a closer look reveals a more complex reality. While many examples of those stereotypes exist, there are also examples of deep spirituality and fine storytelling resulting in works of great power and beauty. 

Gods and Prophets, Sages and Saints looks at the variety and complexity of religious expression in comic books, graphic novels, and pop-ups found in the collections of James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives. Some of these works were created by people of faith, while others were created by commercial interests for religious markets. Some materials reflect the concerns of clerics and institutions teaching religious truth, and others show artists and audiences more interested in religious imagery as a way to create meaningful and exciting adventures. All of these books in some way ask the reader to consider the possibility of a world that is larger than what can be seen and the consequences of what we choose to believe.


We hope you enjoy exploring VCU Libraries' Gallery. If you have any questions or comments regarding these materials or this exhibition, please contact the Special Collections and Archives staff in James Branch Cabell Library.