Episode #142 — Mark Stancil and Daniel Hancock from Terminus Media

We’re not too proud to admit that it can be a bit overwhelming to keep up with pop culture. That’s where our “staff” comes in. (No, we didn’t put “staff” in quotation marks — that would be weird. Why do you ask?) We require that everyone who works on the show has at least one specific area of expertise. For Luke, it’s drum and fife corps. For Heidi, it’s fold-out posters of Prince specifically manufactured for magazines. For Captain, it’s pets obsessed with their owners. And for the interns, we require that they recall the names of every related person in any band containing families. We’re talking The Beach Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Heart, Sly and the Family Stone, Oasis, Donny and Marie… if they played at family reunions and possibly had a falling out, it’s the job of our interns to know.

In our first round of intern interviews we hold up photos of Hanson, and if the candidate can’t distinguish between Isaac, Taylor, and Zac, it’s a “no” from us. We’re not completely demanding, though. We already know all about “The Partridge Family,” so interns don’t have to know about fake family musical acts from movies and TV. That means the Huey Lewis/Gwyneth Paltrow movie “Duets” is off the table. Seriously, all that drama for a grand prize of only $5,000?! Clearly that movie needed a better script.

For this week’s episode, we spoke with Mark Stancil, the CEO of Terminus Media, and Daniel Hancock, a writer for their popular “Dominion” series and other publications. And speaking of poor scripts, talking about and then writing better ones is what led to the formation of Terminus. Terminus is a comic book company focused on telling stories originally found in the Bible. And if you think the stories have already been told, whether through the primary source or through the TV movies that always air at Easter, think again. (Side note: We recognize that many people find the Bible problematic for a variety of reasons, and that there are myriad interpretations of the source material. But, as with last week’s episode, we’re here to talk with, and listen to, people from all walks of life with an open mind.)

The writers of these comics take inspiration from Bible stories, but they choose to focus on the characters and delve deeper into what makes them tick. While Mark and Daniel make it clear that they draw and write biblical figures in ways that don’t seem out of character, they also want to really think about what motivates that figure. So they aren’t retelling bible stories — they’re extrapolating from them.

Mark and Daniel explained that their goal in creating comic books centered around people from the Bible like King Saul is to show that these people are fascinating and their stories are epic. You don’t have to be a biblical scholar, or even a Sunday school graduate, to appreciate the plots and illustrations in their comic books. After all, no matter what your belief system is, there’s some interesting source material in that book — especially if you go the Old Testament route. Plagues, battles, internal struggles, ancient history and geography — it’s in there. Mark and Daniel publish their comics for everyone. And if it leads to someone going back to the Bible to read the original story again, for them that’s a bonus.

If you’re wondering how script writing factors into the founding of this comic book company, Mark connected the dots for us. He and Daniel also explained what it is about comics, specifically, that they enjoy, and why it seemed like a natural vehicle to depict people from the Bible. Mark shared how the company grew from a few stories in black and white to where they are today. Plus, Mark and Daniel drew us into their ongoing debate regarding which superhero Samson is most like. It turns out Samson has a lot in common with quite a few of them: tragic backstory, an anger management problem, great hair.

After listening to this week’s episode, you might want to check out the website for Terminus Media so you can see just how great their illustrations are. They’re also on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, if you want to see what else Mark, Daniel, and the rest of the Terminus team are up to. In the meantime, Heidi is feeling left out because Mark, Daniel, and Luke are all names found in the Bible — so she’s off to skim the index to see if any figures named Heidi pop up. And if it’s not in one version, there are lots more to look through. Actually, that sounds like a job for an intern…

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