“The Story of Pope John XXIII” (MSJT Publishing) is a reissue of a profile written and drawn by Joe Sinnott, an artist known for inking some of the most memorable Marvel titles from the golden age of comics.
In the early 1960s, Sinnott, a Catholic, was busy with a Marvel series called “The Fantastic Four” when he got a call from George A. Pflaum, the head of Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact, a publisher of faith-themed comics. Pflaum had seen Sinnott’s work and wanted him to create a biography of the pope.
Sinnott called his boss — a man named Stan Lee — and told him he was taking a leave of absence to devote his attention to the Treasure Chest project.
More than 50 years later, the resulting narrative has been lavishly republished as a handsome oversized red hardback. This was made possible by a Kickstarter campaign that succeeded in raising more than $10,000.
The volume, a limited run with signed copies available upon request, has been produced with great craftsmanship and care.
The color restoration, which was done by artist Leonardo Ito, actually improves on the original comic. The paper is now a high-grade glossy stock that gives the colors a richness that the first version, printed on less expensive paper, could not match.
The book is a straightforward account of the pontiff’s life. The fourth of 13 siblings, Roncalli was born into a family of Italian sharecroppers Nov. 25, 1881. Ordained a priest in 1904, he rose through the ranks of the papal diplomatic corps, serving as apostolic visitor to Bulgaria, apostolic delegate to Turkey and Greece as well as nuncio to France before becoming a cardinal, and the patriarch of Venice, in 1953. He was elected pope five years later.
As John XXIII, Roncalli foreshadowed the current pontificate by bringing a more freewheeling style to his office. As Sinnott’s work shows, this was a pope who wandered the Vatican gardens alone, sometimes startling workers there. He renewed an ancient Lenten rite by washing the feet of a group of young priests on Holy Thursday.
John also was known to be not just funny, but witty: When asked how many people worked in the Vatican, he famously replied, “About half.”
Suitable for readers of all ages, Sinnott’s biography was originally published in 1962, the year its subject convened the Second Vatican Council. Pope John died the following June, and was canonized April 27, 2014.
The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. Not otherwise rated.
Judge reviews video games and comic books for Catholic News Service.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103