Samson: Judge of Israel
by Jerry Novick, Mario Ruiz
(American Bible Society, 2002)

I'm a sucker for Biblical events translated to comic form. There have been so few done, and even fewer done well, that when a faithful and skillfully crafted one sees the light of day, it's worth mentioning. So, I'll mention Samson: Judge of Israel.

Probably one of the most well-known stories in the Bible, the account of Samson, with it's awesome battles, intensity and theme of redemption, is a perfect fit for a great comic story. Scripter Jerry Novick was obviously aware of this, as he decided to take little to no liberties in, or make any additions too, this engrossing tale. The only real difference from the scriptural copy is the method of telling the story from a first-person account, in Samson's own words. This is where Novick's scripting shines. A wonderful example is found in some of Samson's final words, before toppling the Philistines' temple: "You Philistines, always so full of pride. Never realize that the things most worth seeing are not seen with the eyes." Good stuff, that.

Most notable, however, is the artwork, by penciller Mario Ruiz, as well as inkers Kevin Conrad and Rich Bonk. I was not familiar with Ruiz's work before I saw this book, but, now that I am, I hope to see more. He has a bold style that fits the character of Samson quite well. I believe it fair to say that his ability to convey action sequences is superior to the average artist in comics, today. Yet, despite an able hand at the more exciting aspects of storytelling, Ruiz also skillfully renders the more reserved beauty of Semadar and Delilah, Samson's love interests.

Kudos also go to the aforementioned inkers, who carry out their duties so well that it's nearly impossible to determine two different inking styles.

Samson: Judge of Israel is highly recommended to all but the youngest of readers.

- Rambles
written by Mark Allen
published 20 September 2003

Buy it from