Student tells story of St Paul in Graphic Novel Form

April 25, 2010

San Diego, CA � Derry Connolly, the president of John Paul the Great Catholic University, has said he wants the university’s graduates 'to become ‘St. Pauls’ for the 21st century'. Matthew Salisbury, who graduated in December 2009 as a member of the university�s first graduating class, has clearly taken that message to heart: He’s re-telling the first-century saint’s life story in a 21st-century media format.

As the writer of Paul: Tarsus to Redemption, Salisbury has teamed with illustrator Sean Lam to tell the story of St. Paul in the style of shonen manga. A type of Japanese literature, shonen manga is very similar to a comic book. It has recently become very popular among American youth, with 17.5 million copies sold in the United States and Canada in 2008, according to Publisher's Weekly. "Our faith tradition celebrates some of the most powerful, intense, captivating stories ever told. Building works of historical fiction around what we know of them, in this medium, seems to be a perfect fit," said Salisbury, who graduated from JPCatholic with a feature-length screenplay under his belt and a credit as head writer on a Web series that garnered national attention.

Paul: Tarsus to Redemption is a three-part series geared for readers age 12 and older. In the first volume, which was released March 31, Paul is a young Jewish firebrand, who kills or captures anyone who follows the new sect called Christianity. His closest friend, Septus, is a renegade Roman legionnaire who helps in this purifying mission. When Paul becomes one of the very Christians he once hunted, he gains a new life, but also faces the constant fear of capture and death.

The second installment of this saga will be released in early summer, with the third and final chapter coming out in the fall. "We need to introduce our children to the Gospel in ways that can compete with modern entertainment; really show how exciting our faith can be,” said Jonathan Lin, founder of ATIQTUQ, the Catholic publishing company that is releasing the series. “Once they've had that first exposure, kids are more willing to pay attention and start taking a personal interest in their faith,"

With the success of Paul: Tarsus to Redemption, Salisbury sees proof "that God’s at work here." "My goal with this manga was to emulate Paul’s own mission of inclusion leading to truth," he said. "If this series sparks interest in Scripture or aspiration to live as Paul did in Catholic, Christian or even non-Christian readers, we’d have been very successful." For more information on the three-part series click here.