Jul 17, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 143: The Hiding Place, 1973 (Two Weeks From The Dollar Bin - Day 7)


I have a strange little soft spot for the comics that come out of Spire. Al Hartley's Archie comics from this line are some of the earliest I ever read, and I was always totally put off by the evangelistic tone that inevitably happened near the end of each story. I was too young at the time to notice that they were published by someone other than Archie Comics, so I just assumed that this was something that that publisher did.

But Spire also published straight ahead Christian proselytizing comics, and this adaptation of Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place is a perfect example. (Though, it being a dollar bin buy, it's missing the middle pages, but the plot is such that it's not that hard to figure out what happened in the missing sequences.) I'm interested to know if the explicit and constant references to God and Jesus are quite as rampant in the original book as they are here, and what has been cut out to adapt this story to the Christian childrens' market. A large portion of the narrative deals with the protagonist being interred in a Nazi prisoner of war camp, so I'm thinking that there's some really awful things deleted from the comic adaptation. In such a case, I wonder if the adaptation is doing even remotely any justice to the original narrative, and further if such stories ought to be adapted to an ostensible children's medium solely to spread the word of Christianity. Isn't it somehow disrespectful of ten Boom's experience to tidy it up in order to preach to children?

Though there's a "personal message" from ten Boom at the end of the comic claiming that Jesus has been with the reader all through the comic, so perhaps she didn't mind at all.

I'll hit up a few of the Spire Archies in the next little while, and will occasionally be reviewing some of their other works, either ones similar to The Hiding Place or others that are aimed at audiences even younger than the Archie audience. What I'll grant Spire's line is that the artwork is pretty great, though seeing characters in a prisoner of war camp with the same kind of rocket-boobs that Betty and Veronica sport in 60s Archie comics was a little off-putting. Perhaps, though, that helps to bring the story's horrors more into focus. Hartley's art, even out of the context of Archie, is very Archie-esque, and so a well-read reader is faced with something that both reminds one of the adolescent hijinks of Archie and the gang within the milieu of a concentration camp.

The preachy God stuff at the end still bugs me, though. See you tomorrow.

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