"Puff!" Onomatopoeias, speech bubbles, caricature figures - and the Reformation of the Church. What sounds like an unlikely juxtaposition is a new comic on the life of Martin Luther and his 95 Theses.
"The comic format makes it easy for children and youths, but also adults, to understand the Reformation," said Thomas Dahms (pictured), who has authored a new comic that tells the story of Martin Luther, together with illustrator Tobias Wagner.
The illustrated book, entitled in German "At Luther's Table in Wittenberg - Martin Luther as a Monk, Reformer and Family Man," was presented Thursday in Eisleben, where the church reformer was born on November 10, 1483.
In just 40 pages of comics with speech bubbles, Dahms and Wagner have summarized the life of a man who sparked a revolution during what was the end of the Middle Ages and the cusp of the modern age.
They trace his birth in Eisleben and his studies at the University of Erfurt all the way to the famous 95 Theses he posted on the door of the All Saints' Church in Wittenberg in 1517. All of the information in the book is based on historical evidence, explained Dahms.
A devout theologian, Luther took issue with some of the practices of the medieval Catholic Church, criticizing among other things the disparity between the wealth of the priests and their congregations. He also firmly believed that God justified sinners by faith alone, and not by their acts of penance, as was practiced in the Church at the time.
500 years since Luther's 95 Theses
In the comic, the 95 Theses - which ultimately led to a theological divide and the rise of the Protestant Church - are explained in a language that can be understood by young candidates for confirmation, said Dahms. Adult readers, however, can find longer background texts in the book as well.
In addition, the comic includes pictorial views of the German cities that played an important role in Luther's life, including Wittenberg, Erfurt, Eisleben and Braunschweig.
For Dahms and Wagner, it's not their first historical comic. They also developed a series called "German History in Comics," which including the story of Emperor Otto I (912-973 AD).
2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses in 1517 and a second comic book is already in the works. Volume two will focus on the Reformation wars that ensued after Luther's death in 1546 and the 30 Years War (1618-1648), which began as a war between various Protestant and Catholic states in what was then a fragmented Holy Roman Empire.