Catholic TV interview on Habemus Papam

Posted by Regina Doman on February 28, 2013, 4:41 pm

Fr. Robert Reed

 

Here's the link to my interview on Catholic TV about Pope Benedict and our manga.

Pope Benedict Resigns

Posted by Regina Doman on February 11, 2013, 7:52 am

The Last Page

The news of the Pope's coming resignation leaves me sad but full of deep respect for the man I have come to know better as a result of this project.  Here is the final page of the manga, which is, I think, a fitting ending, in light of the Pope's announcement.

To buy a signed copy of the manga right now, click here.  

Habemus Papam Reviewed on Real Clear Books!

Posted by Regina Doman on February 06, 2013, 8:45 am

So is Pope Benedict an X-Man hero?  Check out this cool review of the manga on Real Clear Books (a sister site of Real Clear Politics). 

In the 1960s, Marvel revolutionized comic books by creating superheroes such as Spider-Man and the X-Men who, despite their great power, wrestled with doubt and personal problems. The reason Habemus Papam! works so well is that it presents not only Pope Benedict XVI, but Joseph Ratzinger, a young, handsome seminarian in Bavaria who struggles with doubt and obstacles... Read More...

There's also a video interview with me here:

Writing Habemus Papam, Part 3

Posted by Regina Doman on November 28, 2012, 12:56 pm

It was an intense weekend, creating the written portion of Habemus Papam.  As I sat at my desk, I roughed out the format on some notebook paper.  I knew the graphic novel was to be divided into four chapters.  So I decided that I would separate the book in half, and tell the story as two long flashbacks.  

Always start your story with a dramatic scene.  So I decided that Chapter One would begin in the conclave that elected Benedict XVI Pope.  For many people in the world. Josef Ratzinger was just an obscure German cardinal until that famous conclave, so I thought I would start from the moment where Josef realizes that he might just be elected to succeed John Paul the Great as Pope.  

Gabrielle's 16-page manga, which my manga was supposed to expand upon, had as its theme "I never thought I'd become Pope."  I thought this was a good place to start - with a reluctant Josef Ratzinger reacting in disbelief when a cardinal comes up to him and says, "Josef, you must become Pope. We're going to nominate you."  Reportedly (no one is supposed to tell what happens at a conclave, but sometimes things slip out, like this one:), Josef responded, "Are you crazy?" and walked away, distressed.

Habemus Papam, p. 1 excerpt

As Josef ponders this possibility, his thoughts go back to his boyhood in Bavaria, and the first flashback, and the story, begins.  

I decided that Chapter One would deal with Josef's growing up in a Germany that was rapidly subcumbing to the evil charms of Adolf Hitler.  Most people don't know that the Ratzinger family were against Nazism right from the start, before most people were even aware of the evil.  I liked being able to show the quiet heroism of Josef's father, a police captain in rural Germany.  I didn't get a chance to include Josef's mother's famous sense of humor.  She liked to tell Hitler jokes, even when doing so was treasonous. The family's stance kept them poor, and the Ratzinger siblings had to learn to "swim against the tide."  More on that later.

Chapter Two would start at a key turning point of Josef's life - his entrance into seminary.  Seminary was his "coming of age," and represented the first time in his career that he could study what he wanted without any interruptions from war or Nazis randomly closing down his schools, etc.  Chapter Two also showed how other people around Josef began to realize that this young man was a genius.  (I don't think Josef himself ever realized this.)  I hope to write more on this later.

Chapter Two ends with Josef embarking upon what was probably the happiest period of his life: teaching at Regensburg University.  The words of his older sister Maria come back to him as he sits in the conclave, helping him to make yet another life-changing decision.  Is that how it really happened?  Who knows?  My story is only a guess, but I hope it's an educated guess.  I'll write more about "educated guessing" and writing fiction next time.

Habemus Papam, p. 115 excerpt

The Cats of the Pope

Posted by Regina Doman on November 09, 2012, 11:57 am

Habemus Papam, pg. 194 excerpt

One of the cool and more-well-known things about Pope Benedict is his love of cats.  This was one aspect that helped me connect with his character early on, since I'm also a cat-lover. The Ratzinger family always had so

Josef Ratzinger and cats, Habemus Papam p. 159

me kind of cat, and each of the three Ratzinger siblings loved cats.  In his book My Brother the Pope, which I read during the writing of the manga, Georg commented that although someone had written a book about Chico the Cat and the Pope, Chico belonged to a neighbor in Regensburg, Germany, and was not actually a very friendly cat.  It was difficult to find out for sure if the Pope keeps a cat in his Vatican apartments, but one source said that that when he moved to the Vatican, he took with him an alley cat whom he'd been feeding for years in his Roman neighborhood.  Someone else gave him another cat after he became Pope, reportedly a Persian.

 

In our manga, I didn't go so far as to give a name or a personality to any of the cats in Josef's life, but most of the scenes that show his various homes, there's a cat somewhere in the background. Sean did a great job drawing some cute ones.  And yes, I had Josef take a cat to the Vatican - whether or not that part of the story is true.  

Writing Habemus Papam, part 2

Posted by Regina Doman on November 07, 2012, 5:15 pm

Benedict of Bavaria by Brennan PursellI have to say a few words about the biography Benedict of Bavaria, by Brennan Pursell, the first book I read on the Holy Father's life.  It was truly the perfect book for me to start with.  The author is married to a native German, and has a great love for the Bavarian countryside and culture.  

I hadn't really realized that Germany has states, just as the United States does.  There are 16 German states which share a single government, including states whose names I've encountered in studying history: the Rhineland-Palintinate, Saxony, and Hamburg.  One of the states is Bremen, of the Bremen Town Musicians fairy-tale fame. 

The largest state is Bavaria, where the Pope was born. Bavaria, says Pursell, is the Germany people love: the Germany of Oktoberfest, beer gardens, chalets, wood carvings, and fairy tale castles.  It also happens to be the Catholic part of Germany.  After the Reformation, most of Germany became Protestant, but Bavaria is historically Catholic. 

In each chapter of the Pope's life, Pursell describes in great detail the architecture and surroundings where the young Josef Ratzinger lived.  This was a real bonus for me as a writer, because it helped me "get inside" Josef's head.  I realized that Josef Ratzinger truly loved Bavaria, his threatened homeland.  

So one recurring theme in the story of Josef's life became "returning home to Bavaria."  When the Nazis shipped young Josef off to camps in Munich and Burgenland ... when the professor Josef accepted posts at universities in Bonn and Tumbingen ... when Pope John Paul II called Archbishop Ratzinger to work for the Church in Rome ... all through the changes, Josef's heart kept longing for his Bavarian homeland and he rejoiced and relaxed every time he was able to return.  Habemus Papam p. 59

His acceptance of the papacy meant that he had to sacrifice the chance to ever return to live in the land he loved the best.  And that exile is permanent.  When the Lord calls Pope Benedict home, chances are, he'll be buried in Rome, his adopted city.  But part of creating his character was realizing that even in Rome, the Pope's heart beats Bavarian. 

So I highly recommend Dr. Pursell's book if you want a brief and warm-hearted overview of the life of Josef Ratzinger.  To me, the book was a godsend.  I hope other readers enjoy it as much as I did!

Writing Habemus Papam, Part 1

Posted by Regina Doman on October 30, 2012, 5:38 am

Just to fill you in on what's been going on around Manga Hero, Gabrielle Gniewek, the previous writer of this blog, departed to join a convent in the Eastern Catholic Church.  So I was asked to take over her last project, writing an expanded 200 page biography of the Pope, and also writing this blog.  I see this blog has sat fallow for a year: I hope to revive it, at least a little.  

Habemus Papam, p. 71 Young Josef

Around this time last year, I packed up a suitcase, my laptop, and the book written by my friend Brennan Pursell, Benedict of Bavaria, got into our family farm truck, and drove 45 miles through the gorgeous fall foilage of Western Virginia to a retreat house, where I intended to spend the weekend researching and writing a comic book on our Pope Benedict XVI.  I had downloaded many articles and interviews onto my laptop (I would have no internet access) but my method is to write out a skeleton outline and fill in the fine details later on.

The retreat house was an old stone mansion, which hosts silent retreats, the perfect place for a writer.  I try to go there every year (this year, due to the economy, I'll have to abstain.)  To my surprise, for the first time I was offered a room in the old mansion itself, and found myself escorted into an elegant sitting room with bookshelves and a day bed. "This will be your room for the weekend," the moderator told me.  It was carpeted in soft pastels, with golden lamps with fringed shades and a large armchair near bookshelves.  A beautiful picture of our Lady hung between the windows. The windows were made of old mullioned glass, with dozens of small sparkling panes, and they overlooked formal gardens and beyond them, the Blue Ridge Mountains.  For a lower-middle-income housewife-and-writer, it was like being transported to a fairy-tale castle.  There was a lady's ivory wood desk with gold trim overlooking one of the windows.  I set my laptop in the middle of it, arranged my notebooks and materials around it, and sat down to work.

From time to time I had to look around to take in the view and remind myself that this was really happening to me.  Not only had I been asked to write a life of the Holy Father: I was beginning my journey in such beautiful surroundings.  And, as I was to discover, appreciating the gift of beauty is an important component in the Pope's life, so it was fitting.  Almost as though Someone had arranged it for me. ...

New Beginnings

Posted by Gabrielle Gniewek on January 02, 2012, 1:45 pm

So to kick off the start of 2012, I thought it would be appropriate to write a little blurb about what’s new in the cooker.

Continue reading New Beginnings...

Belated Happy’s

Posted by Gabrielle Gniewek on July 04, 2011, 12:39 pm

I would like to inform all of you celebrating the ‘birth of our nation’ today, that you missed America’s birthday by two full days...

Continue reading Belated Happy’s...

Many Are Called

Posted by Gabrielle Gniewek on April 26, 2011, 5:03 pm

Imagine entering a church, and there, in the midst of it all is one solitary blonde-haired blue-eyed beacon, drowning in the Middle-Eastern sea of black hair and brown eyes filling the pews around her. She ardently tries to pronounce the guttural language that sounds like they are inflicting physical pain upon their own throats, but to no avail; she is the whitest girl you’ve ever known...

Continue reading Many Are Called...

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