I really enjoy reading graphic novels, but when Biff Bam Pop’s fearless leader asked me if I wanted to review a graphic novel about Martin Luther that was timed for the 500th anniversary of Protestant Reformation, I was at first hesitant, but then my curiosity took over. Why did Martin Luther risk his life to go against Papal edicts? Meet me after the jump for my review of Plough Publishing‘s presentation of Renegade: Martin Luther, The Graphic Biography followed by an interview with Dacia Palmerino and Andrea Grosso Ciponte.
I am a history buff, but although I was born and raised in the Catholic religion, I have over my lifetime shied away from all organized religions. Still, I do like to learn the mechanics of how different religions evolved. The story of Martin Luther happened during a dark period in world history. People who lived during Martin Luther’s time had to deal with extreme poverty, wars, plagues, and the excesses of both the Church and Throne. Back in those days, any rebellion against the Roman Catholic Church was dealt with severely via excommunication or death by torture. There was no division between church and state, and the Popes had almost total control over monarchs. Martin Luther, who was born in 1483, became one of the most controversial figures in Christian history when he rebelled against Pope Leo X’s indulgences for pay. It was this dissatisfaction with the selling of redemption for a price that led a Catholic monk to nail his 95 point thesis to the chapel door of the University of Wittenberg. Martin Luther was not a saint, but he was passionate about his beliefs, and we understand this as we read this beautiful graphic novel.
When I received the graphic novel in the mail, I was struck immediately by the artwork of deep, rich, colors that brought Martin Luther’s reformation to life in an episodic, moving tale that rings true, especially in our time.
Gilbert: Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Andrea Grosso Ciponte: I work for several years as a painter, but my love for pictures came through the comics, so, as soon as I got the chance, I started working on graphic novels. In the meantime I have experimented digital art, and currently I teach Computer Graphic at the Academy of Fine Arts, where I studied, and this aspect is very present in works like “Renegade.”
Dacia Palmerino: I also formed in the Academy of Fine Arts, and I research experimentation in audiovisual and multimedia art, focusing mainly on the review of emerging visual artists and musicians. Contrary to Andrea, I’m a novice in the field of graphic novels, and I’ve been working on them as a screenwriter for the first time right in collaboration with Andrea.
Gilbert: Why did you originally decide to work together?
Andrea Grosso Ciponte: The work of the painter is quite lonely, this brings you to take decisions about everything, and this can also be a disadvantage. I believe that collaborative art, even with the inevitable clashes of views, has its expressive advantages.
Dacia Palmerino: I know and appreciate Andrea’s works for a long time, so when he proposed me to collaborate for graphic novels I naturally accepted with enthusiasm. The general structure of each project is first discussed together, so I proceed with the writing of the plot and the texts, on which Andrea constructs the images. However, it’s a synergistic endeavor, in which we try to balance the visions of both.
Gilbert: What inspired you to write about Martin Luther?
Dacia Palmerino: The illustrated biography of Martin Luther was actually a proposal that came from our German publishers, Edition Faust, which we welcomed as a very ambitious and stimulating challenge. It was to concentrate the complex and troubled life of one of the most controversial characters in history. So we tried to be objective as much as possible , and to make an exhaustive and compelling portrait of Luther as the rebel reformer who changed the religious, social and political physiognomy of the West, without neglecting all his most obscure and debated contradictions as tormented man of faith.
Andrea Grosso Ciponte: The graphic work has been very interesting; I did accurate architectural research and tried to get realistic physiognomies from the portraits of the time. The style used is very different and more detailed than my other works, but this has allowed me to be more objective in the historical description.
Gilbert: What other graphic novels have you realize?
Dacia Palmerino: Since 2014, we are working for Edition Faust on Dust Novel series of graphic novels inspired by short stories from great authors of world literature. Despite our free interpretations, our approach to tales is essentially respectful. In fact, each novel has been realized with a different writing and graphic style, to give back the inner suggestions and the spirit of every original tale. The graphic novels so far published are: “The Sandman” (E.T.A. Hoffmann), “The Visionary” (F. Schiller), “The Marquise of O…” (H.V. Kleist) and “The Castle of Otranto” (H. Walpole).
Gilbert: What are you working on now?
Andrea Grosso Ciponte: We just finished working on our fifth Dust Novel: The Rider on the White Horse, from the eponymous book by Theodor Storm that will be soon released in Germany.
I really enjoyed reading this graphic novel, and I’m sure that the Biff Bam Pop! readers will, too.