When I was a young boy I used to like bible stories and when I was quite young my parents gave me a book called ‘Picture Stories From The Bible’. It was appropriately heavy with a burgundy cover with its title in gold letters and inside it contained water colour comic strip style stories of the scriptures. God was depicted as a booming voice from heaven, angels would swoop about in the sky and occasionally descend to earth to give helpful advice or deliver messages and the stories were full of sagely old men with kind faces, white beards and flowing robes.
I read the stories over and over again, for me some of the best were David and the slaying of Goliath, Moses and the parting of the Red Sea and then, there was Samson who used his tremendous strength to defeat his enemies and perform other heroic feats such as wrestling a lion, killing an entire army with nothing more than a donkey’s jawbone, and tearing down an entire building with his bare hands.
At the time my favourite was always the story of Noah and his Ark and I can remember being slightly sceptical to read that he allegedly lived until he was nine hundred and fifty years old which even at seven years old seemed a bit farfetched to me. Adam, the first man, did nearly as well but only lived until he was nine hundred and thirty.
My favourite story about Noah now however, is not the Ark, but the fact that after the great flood he settled down and became a farmer, experimented by planting some vines and invented wine. We should all be eternally grateful to him for that!
Inside the front cover, on the copyright page it says that the book was produced in 1943 and was the work of M C Gaines and was published by Bible Pictures Incorporated Ltd of East Street, Oadby, Leicester. It turns out that this was in fact an American publication and that Maxwell Charles Gaines was a pioneering figure in the creation of the modern comic book. He was co-publisher of All-American Publications, a comic-book company that introduced fictional characters as Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Hawkman. He went on to found Educational Comics and reproductions of the classics in picture format and ‘Picture Stories from the Bible’ was a collection of individual comic style weeklies.
The Old Testament and the New Testament were sold as separate books but my volume has them both in the same book. I imagined that it might be rare and valuable but research shows that there are a lot of them for sale on ebay and other auction sites so sadly I am not going to make my fortune by selling it!
M C Gaines died in a motorboat accident on Lake Placid on 20th August 1947.
If you like Bible Stories then take a look at this: