Matthew J. Cressler
A little over a month ago I paid a visit to the Archives of the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis. We all have our own unexpected-archival-discovery tale - that time when we stumbled across something completely unrelated to our research but utterly exhilarating. As I walked across the threshold of yet another musty basement archive, I was greeted by mine.
Cue theme music: Saint Fraaaaaancis…broooother of the universe! Yes, believe it or not, Marvel Comics’ Francis, Brother of the Universe (Vol. 1, No. 1, 1978) is one of the legacies of Franciscan friars on the American religious landscape. This set me thinking: how might I include comic books in a course on American religious history? When many of us are seeking creative ways to engage our students in the digital age, one good old-fashioned paper medium might escape our attention. (Not to fear, comics can be disseminated digitally as well!) So, without further ado, here are my first four suggestions for including comics in American religious history.