Religion: a Discovery in Comics – Drugs

Today I received a pack of postcards I designed for OPEN Foundation, an interdisciplinary organization that aims to stimulate research into all aspects of the psychedelic experience. I sat in at one of their conferences in 2010, drawing cartoons on the spot, and recently they made some of those into postcards. It had been long enough to be pleasantly surprised by my own work:

drugs

Especially the lower postcard ties in nicely with my upcoming book Religion: a Discovery in Comics. Towards the end of the book, I briefly explore certain scientific research into the religious experience (including looking for the “god gene”) as well as the link there seems to exist between mysticism and the use of certain drugs.

My view is that both drugs and meditative practices can alter the brain and release certain chemicals, resulting in “religious experience”. The fact that we can put it in terms of chemicals in no way distracts from the “holiness” of these experiences, in my opinion. It’s just another way of looking at what happens when these experiences occur.

Here’s how I draw it in my book Religion: a Discovery in Comics:

religion-drugs

The book is almost here! It will debut at SPX next month, and I will be there to sign it for you!

Religion: a Discovery in Comics – the Contents Page

Wondering what my upcoming book Religion: a Discovery in Comics is all about? Here is the contents page to give you an idea:

religion-contents

Each of the main religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism) is feraured with a 3-page “history-in-a-nutshell”, a spread about what I think is the “core” of that religion, a bit about their holy books, and where applicable about their holy places and symbols. The “eggs” each deal with an issue relating to that religion that I feel I have to walk on eggshells about.

The final chapters of the book deal with women in religion, scientific research on religion, the smorgasbord of the “new spirituality” and the spiritual/religious process as I see it: a continuous process of searching, finding, enjoying, discussing, rejecting and then searching, finding etc. again.

Curious? Only one more month before the book is out!

Religion: a Discovery in Comics – the Tale of Three Brothers

A lot has been said about how Judaism, Christianity and Islam relate to each other and I’m addressing the issue in my upcoming graphic novel Religion: a Discovery in Comics. My angle is the same as that of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, a German writer who created the play Nathan the Wise in 1779.

Here’s the comic page I made about it:

lessing

Religion: a Discovery in Comics – Walking on Eggshells

When the idea came up to draw a graphic novel about religion, I figured it would be easy. After all, I’m a relative expert, with loads of study and personal experience on the subject. It seemed a matter of “just getting everything on paper”.

But when I started, I suddenly felt paralyzed. What would people say? Religion is not as neutral as Philosophy or Science – everyone seems to have a passionate opinion about it, good or bad. How was I going to make a book that would not offend, infuriate or upset people?

When I pondered this one night, just before falling asleep (when the best ideas come) I got the image of walking on eggshells – a wonderful visual that would work very well in a comic! It is fun to look at, and in this way I could address my own concerns as well of those of others.

eggshells

After drawing this, I felt free to find my own voice on the subject. I would draw all the general information on the five main world religions, and also weave in my own “spiritual path”. I sincerely belief that religion is very personal, and we can’t really say anything useful about it without specifying what it means to us personally.

personal

This approach proved to be the key for me – and I happily delved into drawing, less afraid of breaking an occasional egg here and there.

There are eggs breaking on the following subjects:

– treating religion as something “personal”

– treating judaism, christianity and islam as fellow religions, instead of enemies

– criticism on christianity

– the matter of depicting Muhammad in islam

– expressing my sympathies for hinduism

– depicting buddhism in a Western, popularized way

– (lack of) women in religion

Curious about what kind of omelette I made with all these broken eggs…? Find out in September, when the book comes out!

Religion: a Discovery in Comics – win a signed copy

RELIGION: A DISCOVERY IN COMICS is coming in September and you can be one of the first to own a signed copy! Just enter the Giveaway on Goodreads.com and keep your fingers crossed.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Religion by Margreet de Heer

Religion

by Margreet de Heer

Giveaway ends September 21, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

If you’re not signed up to Goodreads this might be a moment to consider it: it’s a great site where you can keep track of what you read, connect with other readers and discover new books.

Also Available in September: More from de Heer and get your WAR FIX!

NBM’s September selections in this month’s Diamond Previews continue in the tradition of publishing quality educational graphic novels with gripping (and real) subject matter. Also being solicited are other examples of our educational side and our true war stories depicting the perils of war.

Margreet de Heer’s RELIGION: A DISCOVERY IN COMICS is not her first graphic novel with us! We have previously released two others in her “Discovery in Comics” series to great acclaim. These two titles are available now from to order from your local comic shop or bookstore. We have had lots of feedback from parents, educators, and students alike who have used the books as a great tool to introduce difficult concepts. The approachable access to the text makes this series very readable for high schoolers and struggling students.

SCIENCE- A Discovery in Comics

SCIENCE- A Discovery in Comics
Margreet de Heer

Science: dull or hard to understand? Not if you read this book! The creators of ‘Philosophy – a Discovery in Comics’ take on a new challenge, and explain the different scientific disciplines in clear, colorful chapters.
Who exclaimed “Eureka” and why?
Why did Galileo get into a fight with the Church?
What happens when you have your DNA tested?
All these questions and more are answered in a chronological journey from ancient times to modern Quantum Theory, with creators Margreet and Yiri as your witty guides.
A great comic book for anyone who wants to learn in a fun way the bigger framework of science, or brush up on what they learned in school.

8×8, 192pp., full color hardcover, $19.99,

ISBN 9781561637508

Diamond Order Code: MAY131196

Philosophy- A Discovery in Comics

PHILOSOPHY- A Discovery in Comics
Margreet de Heer

A fun introduction in comics to deep thinking and the history of Philosophy!
What is Thinking? And how does our thinking set us apart from other animals?
Now that we’re thinking, what is Reality? Is there an objective reality or are there numerous subjective realities? And do we move in it with a free will or is everything predestined?
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Erasmus, Descartes, Spinoza, Nietzsche: just a few philosophers who have pondered these questions.
Comic artist Margreet de Heer and her husband Yiri travel through the history of Western Philosophy and draw a colorful picture of all these questions.

8×8, 120pp., full color hardcover, $16.99,

ISBN 9781561636983

Diamond Order Code: MAY121212

For more information, preview pages, or to place your order, visit our website!

As a companion for September’s WALKING WOUNDED, David Axe, a journalist who covered the War in Iraq, presented his story in WAR FIX, illustrated by Steve Olexa. The dark story is presented in black and white–but it is sometimes consumed by the darkness, much like the protagonist himself. Upon release, the book made lots of waves, winding up in the 2008 Best American Comics compilation! Click here for preview pages and ordering information!

WAR FIX
Steve OLEXA & David AXE
War can be addictive. So testifies journalist David Axe who’s been there, in the middle of the action in Iraq. The high is potent no matter how much you know how dangerous it is… Here’s Axe’s journal of dealing with his addiction, the high, the sheer excitement of being in there, in the battle, the cost to his life, never mind the threat. A new form of visceral self-analyzing comics journalism starts with this book… An allegory for the US? A graphic novel sure to fascinate with a talented artist to watch for!

6×9, 96pp., B&W, jacketed hardcover, $15.95,
ISBN 9781561634637

Diamond Order Code: FEB063184

Order now from our website or from your favorite comic store!

Religion: a Discovery in Comics – the Cover

Coming up with a good cover is always a challenge. Ideally, a cover drawing conveys precisely what the book is about. For Religion: a Discovery in Comics I wanted it to contain me (since there’s a lot of autobiography in there), an image of “God”, and the symbols of the five world religions. The very first sketch (for the Dutch edition) was this:

religie-sketch

The image of Man reaching for God and God reaching out to infuse Man with life is an allusion to this famous fresco by Michelangelo, called ‘The Creation of Adam’:

michelangelo

Although I liked the overall feel of the picture, I was having a hard time getting all the elements right. This was an early version:

religie3

Nice enough, but colleagues pointed out that this picture has two focus points: the divine halo in top and the yellow circle where pencil and God’s hand almost meet. It’s better to have one point in the picture to draw the eye to, and someone suggested this:

religion2

I liked that, but I wasn’t sure about the space between the pencil and God’s hand. In the original Michelangelo painting there is this space, and it creates a good suspense of almost-being-animated – but then I realized that my book is not about a one-way relationship with the divine, but rather about the dynamic between people and how they perceive any “higher force”.

When I made the finger and the pencil meet, the image suddenly “clicked”. It can be read in two ways: either the divine is inspiring the artist, or the artist is conjuring up an image of the divine. Or both!

So this is the final result, and the cover to keep an eye out for in stores soon:

religion_cover-bg

 

The Making of Religion: Growing Up in the House of God

A new book is coming! The files of Religion: a Discovery in Comics have been sent to the printer and the physical book will be in stores after the Summer. Time to let the world know what it’s all about.

After Philosophy and Science, Religion: a Discovery in Comics is again a graphic novel that gives a colorful overview of the basic concepts of the field – in this case: the five major world religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

But this book is more. Far more than the other two books, this one is about me – because I firmly belief that you can’t tell truth about religion without getting into what it means personally.

I have quite some experience with all kinds of religious surroundings. As a toddler, I literally played in church, since my father was a minister in the small village of Okkenbroek and we lived in a vicarage attached to the church. The holy and the mundane were very naturally intertwined for me from an early age. My parents (both theologians) encouraged stories and questions and welcomed discussions, even (especially!) when they were very critical.

youth

Here’s a page from the book that more or less sums up those early years of my life:

okkenbroek

The village and the church are still the same as they were 35 years ago, here’s a recent picture:

church

High Spirits

It’s Pentecost Sunday today, the Christian feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit – but what does that even mean? Here’s a comic I did a few years ago (for Dutch spiritual magazine Speling) about what spirit and inspiration means to me:

pentecost1

pentecost2

pentecost3

 

In my upcoming book Religion: a Discovery in Comics I list what I think is the core of each world religion – for Christianity I chose the holy communion as significant ritual. But personally, in the eclectic way I experience my own spirituality, I feel much more for this feast that celebrates inspiration, exhilaration and communication.

 

TCAF was great!

Last weekend, Yiri and I attended the famous Torontonian comics festival TCAF on our first ever trip to Canada, and we had a blast! I drew a few webcomics about our first days, and our stay in the wonderful Church/Wellesley-district:

024-toronto

025-holdinghands

TCAF has so many great names and wonderful events, I felt a bit humbled at the start of it all…

026-psyche

…but then this happened:

tcaf

027-tcaf

 

We loved the whole experience! And now we’re back on the European side of the pond, and back to working on the approaching publications of no less than two books: the Dutch Wereldheerschappij in Beeld and the english Religion: a Discovery in Comics. Both will appear in October 2015!