Book of Mormon Comic Book

comic-con reflection

(Shared with permission)

From Mic Shelton:

"I wanted to take a minute to tell you how I have felt since talking to you. Libby and I stopped and looked out over the room one last time on our way out and we are just so impressed at the glorious creativity mankind has inherited from our Creator. There was such an amazing positive feeling throughout the entire gathering that even the things that might have seemed vulgar or morbid just seemed like another expression of the miraculous power of the human mind and the human spirit. I was amazed, delighted, touched, and soothed by much of what I saw yesterday, but I wanted to let you know that none of it was more inspired or inspirational to me as your little booth and the spirit you carried as you genuinely try to bless the lives of your customers. I have seen many LDS media projects from Living Scriptures to BYU Television over the years, and I find your approach to be carefully considered and carefully executed. I predict we will see it's effects far and wide. To be honest, it felt almost like your project was the whole reason the first SLC Comic Con happened when it did. I predict this Comic Con is a step towards a new age of LDS media and the public's view of the Church in the media..."

From Nancy Laing:

"I wanted to say how nice it was to meet you and how impressed I was with your Comic. I read it all the way through on the way back home to Idaho Falls and the only disappointment I had was that it ended!! So get busy buddy cuz I can't wait for the next one!! It's worse than waiting for a movie I'm dying to see.
I LOVED LOVED LOVED IT!!
I really loved all the extra education you add. It's such an informative and fun way to educate about the scriptures and I'm so enthralled with the history. I love history and the scriptures but to see it from your unique, fun way, it made it so much more enjoyable.
I'm showing it to all my friends!!
I love the animals and your art. One thing I can't figure out is what animal Lehi and Laman are. I can see that the rest of the family are cats but maybe you can enlighten me. (We've had family discussions on this one).
So, thank you Michael for sharing your amazing talent for art, and writing, and for giving people such a delightful way to read these incredible powerful stories.  (At times, Scriptures can be boring all by themselves you know).
I'm so grateful for people like you in this world!"

From Dustin Orgill of Digital Hippos:

The stunning art work of Mike Mercer from Spider Comics was one of the most attractive booths out there. From bright colors and amazing design, From the Dust is more than impressive, regardless of the genre or subject. Seriously, even if you don't care about religion or Biblical topics, Mike's talent is a force that has to be seen to believed. Debuting in both print form and iPad app, this series is a breakthrough in more ways than one. Plus, Mike is a super cool guy running a one man show!

 

400 books sold Comic Con!

We thrashed our sales goals!

I hate worrying about business stuff, but it's necessary if you want to stay in business! We had a goal of 300 books sold and we blew it out of the water! Over 400 sold averaging a book every 3.5 minutes.

That's about as fast we could talk!! 

Check out our photos!

Check out all our photos on our Facebook page! >>

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Me and my friend Griffin. He runs a dance venue in Provo @ Enliten Bakery & Cafe on Friday nights.

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Ronita with Jack! Ronita is good with money. I am not.

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The amazing duo - er - trio: Matt, Gollum, and Maria!

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Me talking to a crowd of superheroes. We sold an average of a book every 3.5 minutes.

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Better picture of the booth coming soon! We had a pro photographer friend drop by and take some.

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Yes that is a dinosaur walking down the aisle folks!

From the Dust #1 Multi-Touch

At long last, no more scrolls!

Are you tired of carrying around those huge Isaiah scrolls? Does finding chapter 60 cause a huge mess?  Well, look no further! We've got the world's greatest advancement since papyrus!

Introducing the Multi-Touch version of From the Dust, sporting a beautiful back-lit LED display that makes our high-quality, colorful artwork rival the beauty of Egyptian hieroglyphs - nay, it surpasses it!

Perfect for that scriptorian you love so dearly but that struggles under the weight of 10,000 scrolls.

We're just waiting for approval at Apple's iBookstore, then it will be available in the U.S., Canada, UK, Austrailia, and New Zealand for just $14.99 for over 220 beautiful images.

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From the Dust #1: The Last King of Judah is officially on its way to the iBookstore!

Check out these screenshots!

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Sariah and the Rain

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Sariah experiences the first rain after a long drought.

Sariah

I've always I have always pictured Sariah as the gardener of the family. Rain is so precious in the Middle East...what would it be like to feel it after a long drought?

Especially as a mother of four boys who are always eating, I'm sure it is a wonderful feeling!

New Website! Finally got it right.

New Website!

I know it must seem like I keep redoing the website rather than finish the Multi-Touch and make issue #2...but...as it turns out I have links in the Multi-Touch to the website. After realizing this, it made sense to just redo the website and then finish the Multi-Touch (which is, by the way, very very close!)

Multi-Touch has just one week left of work!

My guess is the Multi-Touch of #1 is about a week's worth of work from being finished. Unfortunately, I have to finish a client job this week. :\

Preview of new www.BookofMormonComic.com

The good news is I finally got the website "right." It loads and looks beautiful on desktops and mobile devices and is really easy to read and use on both as well. I think it is a step in the right direction!

Please note you can get the first 10 pages of From the Dust #1 as a free PDF download on the website, too!

Visit the website >>

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Website might be a little slow loading

Please note that I'm hosting locally so the download may take a second. I still have to optimize everything so just be patient with it! Hopefully it won't take too long!

Getting antsy for Issue #2

I've had a lot of time to ponder From the Dust #2 and it's going to get a little more story added to it. I know fans have been dying for more than 2 minutes of comics to read (believe me, I am too!). Just remember From the Dust is designed to have a whole team of people creating an issue per month and right now it's just little old me... and I have to run everything else, too! Yuck.

To this end, however, I'm toying with the idea of using all of issue #2 for story and having just one or two pages of educational features in it. Anyway, we'll see! It's just an idea...

RadioInterviews on KTALK AM630!

A wonderful and short 15-minute radio interview giving the overview of From the Dust. 

February 2013.




A longer 45-minute radio interview that provides a lot of peripheral information on the creation and history of From the Dust.

April 2013.

From the Dust Comic Con Sep 5-7!

It's True! This year is the FIRST EVER Salt Lake City Comic Convention!

It's very timely for me for sure! I'm taking From the Dust there and hopefully we'll have a grand time!

Get your tickets and more info here.

Like it on Facebook here (also get entered to win free tickets).

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Go to http://saltlakecomiccon.com for more info!

AND PLAN ON BEING THERE! It's only $30 for a three day pass! That's crazy!

I will post more info on my location once I have it and definitely plan on me having some cool new stuff for From the Dust!

the biggest story has never been told.

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Jerusalem was tragically destroyed as recorded in the Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament.

A fascinating "hidden" goldmine of scripture.

One of the facts I bring to light in From the Dust #1 is that a huge portion of our scriptures were written during about a 40-year time period immediately prior to and after the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC.

The prophets during this time period were so prolific that their combined writings are as long as the entire New Testament -

doubled

A forgotten tale forgotten no more.

And yet this important part of history is often neglected by the Christian world. When I conducted polls I found about one in ten Christians could tell me a line or two about the prophet Jeremiah. (He was in Jerusalem when it was destroyed, FYI.)

Now, I’m not one to claim that this story is more important than the stories we Christians do focus on - the stories of Christ - but I am here to claim that from the Latter-day Saint perspective, this story is a vital prelude to His coming. Indeed, for Latter-day Saints the story of the destruction of Jerusalem - one of the most heart-wrenching and tragic stories in all of history - is no tragedy at all, but a triumph of human perseverance and the Divine’s inspiring loyalty to the Covenant People.

Why hasn't it been told before? The Bible is the world's most-published book!

The reason why no one has told the story of Jerusalem’s destruction is, in my opinion, because most people see this story as only a tragedy. The Book of Mormon, however, dispels many of the mysteries surrounding Jerusalem’s destruction (but not all, of course) and anyone would be wise to understand how it illuminates the story of the destruction of Jerusalem. Combining the Old Testament and Book of Mormon accounts reveals a dying culture with strong motivations that “make sense.” Without the Book of Mormon, it is not as clear what exactly was happening in Jerusalem immediately prior to its destruction.

Girl's Camp Fundraiser

From the Dust raises funds for girl's camp in Lincoln, Nebraska!

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My younger sister, Maria, was put in charge of raising funds for her ward's girl's camp. With only 10 days advance notice she put together a spaghetti dinner auction that had over 100 attendees! Now that's cool. She had numerous items that she was able to get donated for the auction. Of those items were some issues of From the Dust! From the Dust raised over 10% of the auction's total, raising well over $100.

If your ward has fund-raising needs I can make a deal that will provide ample profits for your ward. Just email me at michael@spidercomics.com!

From the Dust Apparel!!!

New Zazzle.com/FromtheDust Store open!

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Zazzin' it up with cool new From the Dust apparel! All sizes and colors available!

One of the coolest new projects I launched last week was a huge arsenal of awesome new From the Dust apparel for your latest fan!

I've had quite a few fans ask if they can get their favorite characters on a good-lookin' t-shirt and now you can -- on over 90 VARIETIES of shirts, hoodies, baby jumpers, and more!!!

I have over 15 pieces of character artwork available immediately.

Check'em out on the Zazzle store!! >>

From the Dust was #1 Hottest Book at Women's Conference!

It's true! We got the stats back from Women's Conference and From the Dust was the best-selling book out of the entire Bookstore! Not bad for just a "comic book," right? We sold over 100 books in just two days! Pretty amazing considering 99% of the people we met had never even heard of From the Dust!

Starting out Women's Conference. Yes that's me. I know pictures of me are rare. I'm usually taking them.

Keely! She helped out both days. Not pictured are Andy & Chelsea who also volunteered.

The booth. Small but effective.

What our booth looked like most of the time.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!!

May 4 was FREE COMIC BOOK DAY (happens yearly, FYI). I dropped by a comic book shop and met Spidey. I also got pulled in for some signings and sketches unexpectedly, but we didn't get any pictures of that, sorry! The place was packed!! Got to see my friend Jake Parker.



I'm on vacation to San Diego for a week or two so I will update you when I get back and get cruising again with work!! Why San Diego? http://swingdiego.com

From the Dust at Women's Conference at BYU BOOKSTORE THIS WEEK!

I will be at the BYU Bookstore selling From the Dust, signing stuff, and generally having a party on:

THURSDAY MAY 2, from 2:30pm - 6:00pm

and 

FRIDAY MAY 3, from 10:00am - 3:00pm

Get a free 19" by 27" poster for EACH book you buy!



Fan Friday #11 - LAST ONE ON THE BLOG - Moving to Twitter @MormonComic


This week's jackpot is a Collector's Edition "Hope Whispers" Poster! ($8 value!)

Congratulations! Our Fan Friday winner is Diane from...somewhere. Congrats Diane! We'll contact you and get that mailed as soon as we get your mailing address!

Next Week's Item: A Collector's Edition From the Dust #0: Things to Come ($6 value!)

Not receiving our newsletter? Sign up today and be eligible to win every Fan Friday!

Or Visit this Link to Sign Up >>

***FAN FRIDAY WILL BE MOVING TO TWITTER MAY 3rd*** Twitter: @MormonComic
(we changed the twitter name from @SpiderComics to @MormonComic)

Off to Work! From the Dust.

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Jobs aren't so bad.

Yes, it's true. I have a day job. From the Dust is definitely growing, and there are a LOT of seeds planted, but as a self-publishing self-producing self-promoting project it was only a matter of time before my bills had to be taken care of. You gotta eat! That starving artist notion is actually false. I don't know anyone that is starving that makes inspirational art. You have to have fuel for creativity...and that includes food.

Day job perks include:

  • Talking to other human beings. (Pretty rare at home, actually.)
  • Going out to lunch.
  • Top-secret projects (I'm on an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) so I can't say much about the job.)
  • Educational environment.
  • Free smoothies!

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS:

I will be at BYU Bookstore during Thursday and Friday next week for Women's Conference! I will have two cool new posters. Check'em out. Not for sale. I need them for my display!

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Drop by the BYU Bookstore and I'll sign anything you want! I will also be handing out free posters with a purchase of every copy of From the Dust #1: The Last King of Judah! THAT'S A STEAL FOLKS!!!

Fan Friday @spidercomics

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This week's jackpot is a set of 5 Inspire Series Art Prints! ($8 value!)

Congratulations!

 Our Fan Friday winner is Gigi from California! Congrats Gigi! We'll contact you and get that mailed as soon as we get your mailing address!

Next Week's Item: 

A "Hope Whispers" Poster! ($8 value!)

Not receiving our newsletter? Sign up today and be eligible to win every Fan Friday!

From the Dust Newsletter

Or Visit this Link to Sign Up >>

***FAN FRIDAY WILL BE MOVING TO TWITTER MAY 3rd*** Twitter: @SpiderComics

AMAZING REVIEW CHECK IT OUT!

Tabb Clements of the Association for Mormon Letters performed a thorough and thoughtful review on From the Dust #1: The Last King of Judah. For the original go

here

. We've copied it here for your reading pleasure.

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Review 

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Title: From The Dust: #1- The Last King of Judah

Author: Michael Mercer

Publisher: Spider Comics, P.O. Box 71, Springville, UT 84663-0071

Genre: Serial Graphic Novel 

Year Published: 2013

Number of Pages: 110

Binding: Softcover

ISBN10: n/a

ISBN13: 978-0-9859884-1-8

Price: $14.99

Buy it here >>

Reviewed by Tabb Clements for the Association for Mormon Letters

In July of 1977, "The Ensign" magazine carried the First Presidency Message entitled "The Gospel Vision of the Arts" by then Church President Spencer W. Kimball. This First Presidency message was adapted from an address that President Kimball had given ten years earlier, as a Member of the Quorum of the Twelve, when he addressed the faculty and staff of Brigham Young University.

In the article printed in "The Ensign," President Kimball shared his prophetic vision of the future of the Gospel and the Arts. He said:

"For years I have been waiting for someone to do justice in recording in song and story and painting and sculpture the story of the Restoration, the reestablishment of the kingdom of God on earth...

"We are proud of the artistic heritage that the Church has brought to us from its earliest beginnings, but the full story of Mormonism has never yet been written nor painted nor sculpted nor spoken. It remains for inspired hearts and talented fingers yet to reveal themselves...." (The Ensign, July 1977, First Presidency Message, “The Gospel Vision of the Arts”.)

Michael Mercer, as both writer and illustrator of "From The Dust (The Serial Graphic Novel) #1-The Last King of Judah," invites all of us to witness how he is trying to use his artistic gifts and talents to help fulfill the vision to share the Gospel in a new way. Mercer has taken a story with which we are all familiar – the Book of Mormon - and has cast it in a new light as a serial graphic novel. (A very high end comic book series that is so much more.)

As an LDS people, we are not accustomed to using the words "serial graphic novel" and scriptures in the same sentence. Allowing the term serial graphic novel to limit your thinking that this is merely a comic book similar to the ones we grew up with would lead to a mis-drawn conclusion . This is a high gloss, high artistic, visually stimulating adventure for the eyes and a creative work that challenges the mind. 

"The Last King of Judah” is divided into eleven sections. The first section is the Introduction. Mercer realizes that he needs to win over his audience from the very first pages of his work. He is quick to lead off by educating his readers regarding the history of prophets and their relationship to the fall of Jerusalem. He is also quick to confirm that his serial novel is based on history and recognizes the strong place of the House of Israel.

In his own words Michael Mercer tell us:

"From the Dust is where the ancient and modern worlds meet. Ancient scripture blends with modern art and technology to deliver a creative interpretation that not only entertains, but educates and edifies concerning the beautiful, awe-inspiring yet sorrowful tale of the fall of a chosen people." (page 12)

Writing specifically of the days of Jeremiah and Lehi, writer/illustrator Michael Mercer has stated the driving purpose of what he is trying to accomplish with regards to bringing us closer to the people in the story:

"If fictional exploration into their personalities is valuable, it would be because it may help us to come to know them in a way that a doctrinal analysis of their writings cannot. These men literally gave their lives to bring our scriptures to us. Should we not consider putting forth similar efforts to bring that story to life?

"It is a story that is without a doubt one of the greatest true-life epics ever recorded, if not the greatest. We should not only consider putting forth that effort, we should maintain it as a privileged duty." (page 11)

In explaining the series further in section 2, Mercer states:

"The 'From the Dust' series takes you on an epic journey that starts in Jerusalem's darkest hour and leads readers progressively through the journeys of prophets that lived at the time of Jerusalem's destruction. The series will last for years with new chapters released regularly. Each issue consists of a complete story, or 'chapter,' consisting of 24-36 pages of full-color story. In addition, each issue contains supplementary educational material." (page 14)

Inherent in the call from President Kimball in the July 1977 "Ensign" for those with artistic talents to come forward and share the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is the echo to the rest of us to open our minds and hearts to be receptive to their interpretation through the arts of that very message of the Restoration. After all, what good is a master craftsman if no one takes the time to learn of their work and to be inspired and uplifted by it?

In my own personal library, amidst all of the books and magazines I have pertaining to the Book of Mormon, I have approximately 15 multi-volume commentaries on the Book of Mormon. Why so many? (My wife asks me that a lot!) Each of the commentaries comes from a different perspective with different emphases that help me to see the Book of Mormon from a new perspective and, in doing so, increase my love for and closeness to that sacred book of scripture. 

Think of a task that you do quite often, perhaps without even thinking about it. Try to do that same task now with your less dominant (left) hand. You have to concentrate and think so much harder about what you are doing. You might notice things about the task that you had not noticed before. You may come away with a new perspective of the task itself. This is the value that "From The Dust (The Serial Graphic Novel) #1-The Last King of Judah" brings to the Book of Mormon.

Mercer understands how this perspective can work to our advantage in getting us to move out of our comfort zones and into a new light of seeing scripture and history. He explains:

"Instead of being a replacement to the Holy Scriptures, this carefully designed entertainment is a supplement that promotes interest and intrigue in the scriptures. Readers will be inspired to seek answers to questions and to learn even 'by study and also by faith.'" (page 12)

As with all commentaries, we can fairly ask are they all suited for everyone? The answer of course is, no. Every commentary targets a different group of people, on different points/places on the path towards fuller appreciation of the Book of Mormon. And so with "From the Dust" the question must be asked, "Who will appreciate this book the most?" I selected a potential marketing target group of my own. (Okay, I showed the book to three of my six kids!) The reaction of my kids was both similar and amazing.

When I asked my oldest son, who is 29, to look at it, I did not get the book back for several days. When it did come back we had a great discussion regarding the destruction of Jerusalem, all prompted by my son having read through the book. 

My 16 year old son, realizing that this was about the Book of Mormon, initially stated that he would pass! When I told him to have an open mind and that this was NOT like my other books on the Book of Mormon, he consented to look at it. When I returned each time at intervals of about 20 minutes to check on him to see if he had finished looking at it, I found that he was still engaged with the book! It was only on the fourth check that he was somewhat ready to relinquish the book to me. We had a great discussion about the Prophet Lehi regarding his age and why “From the Dust” presented Lehi as being so young and yet we always think of him as being so old! Imagine that! My son was so visually impressed by the artistry of the graphics that he noticed how Lehi was not the age that he expected him to be, leading to a gospel discussion. 

As Michael Mercer has plans for this work to come out in digital format, it is helpful to note that my 16 year old son told me, "I cannot wait for this to come out in a format so that I can download it on my phone and spend more time with it." No thoughts of more texting or mindless games, but rather an interest in spending more time with something that was drawing him towards the scriptures. 

The final focus of my marketing experience was my 14 year old daughter. In order to touch base with the potential female demographics of "From the Dust," I asked her to look through the book. My daughter, like her brothers, spent quite some time with the book. It held her interest. She was engaged by the story and the graphics. She read through bits and pieces of the history chapters. When my daughter finally gave the book back to me she wanted to know more about the Prophet Jeremiah. She told me she was not familiar with him as being part of Lehi's family!

Each of my three children were impressed enough that their attention was held beyond just a causal two minute flip through. Each of the children was drawn into thought and compared their own understanding of the Book of Mormon against what they were seeing in "From the Dust." And perhaps, most exciting of all, each of my children had questions that allowed us to have yet another meaningful father-child discussion regarding the Book of Mormon. 

As with any work based on the scriptures, the first question to be asked is "How accurate is the work doctrinally?" Mercer wants us to know that this work "...does not define doctrine..but rather provides additional insights on non-doctrinal subjects which may prove helpful in understanding the stories and characters of the scriptures." (page 15). Again, his work “From the Dust” helps us with our perspective of sacred scripture.

The third section, "The Cast," contained a few character descriptions that do not match my own understanding from the scriptures. For example, Lehi is described as "...a poor child who led a rough, desert life." (pg.19). Sam, about whom not much is written in the Book of Mormon, has his family relationships summed up as "Sam's only significant bond in the family is with his mother--in the kitchen." (pg. 27) In a work covering a story of this magnitude some creative license would be expected. Consider the Church produced movie "The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shepherd." At the very beginning of the movie we are told that some fictional characters have been created to help tell the story of The Book of Mormon and the coming of Christ to America. The addition of these people into the greater story in no way detracts from the power of the message in the scriptures themselves. To the extent that we are drawn into the scriptures as a result of our experience, it is something to be pursued. 

Section 4, "The World," helps to educate the reader on the major empires of the time, i.e., Babylon, Egypt, Arabia, and Judah. To fully appreciate the story that Mercer is unfolding through his serial novel you have to appreciate the setting. The more you understand the influences of one empire upon another, the greater you can appreciate the calling of the prophets to foretell of the fall of Jerusalem. Michael Mercer does an excellent job of setting up the story he is about to tell. There is an excitement that runs through the work that inevitably pulls you into the story and into the scriptures upon which they are based.

The actual serial novel begins on page 52 and ends on page 70. It is in this section that Mercer especially challenges the mind to utilize all that has been learned by the use of words in the first fifty pages of the work to now fully appreciate that part of the story that will be told through graphics. This is where the next section on "Scriptures" brings in the interesting insight into the scriptures that inspired the sections of the serial novel just presented. Several scriptures from the Old Testament KJV are shown next to smaller cutouts of the novel presented in the previous 18 pages. This allows for a closer connection to the exact scriptures that inspired the drawings. In addition, the writer/illustrator adds additional boxes of knowledge pertaining to the event being described. I especially enjoyed seeing how the written word had been the catalyst for the depiction of certain scenes and events. 

Included also is an additional education section entitled "Hebrew," a brief journey through what historians know about the Hebrew language. 

Mercer has a big vision for "From the Dust." In this first issue of the series, he combines powerful writing with visually stunning illustrations to bring us into the world of the prophets Jeremiah and Lehi in a way that the written word alone in other commentaries cannot quite do. Mercer himself states, "'From the Dust' will assuredly help anyone to build a foundation of faith grounded in scriptural knowledge and experience." (pg. 15) This was true for my target marketing group - my kids. As I was sitting at the table finishing this review, my 14 year old daughter passed by and wanted to know if I was going to purchase the next book in the serial graphic novel. She said she wanted to be able to see more of it. 

I know that I was both educated and inspired by what I read and saw. Michael Mercer quoted Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Divinely inspired art speaks in the language of eternity, teaching things to the heart that the eyes and ears can never understand” (pg. 87, as quoted from “The Ensign”, July 1996, p.10) Get a copy of "From the Dust: The Serial Graphic Novel" and see what Michael Mercer has done to present the Restoration in a new light. Open yourself and your family to be stretched in a way never before possible and see how your perspective is changed as you are pulled into the history and times of The Book of Mormon. 

Take a very brief look at "From the Dust" book trailer # 1 on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/b

ookofmormoncomic

Fan Friday #9 Winner!

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Today's jackpot is the Collector's Edition "Hope Whispers"  poster! ($8 value!)

Congratulations!

 Our Fan Friday winner is Warren from Idaho! Congrats Warren! We'll contact you and get that mailed as soon as we get your mailing address!

Next Week's Item:

A set of 5 Inspire Series art Prints! ($8 value!)

Not receiving our newsletter? Sign up today and be eligible to win every Fan Friday!

From the Dust Newsletter

Or Visit this Link to Sign Up >>

***FAN FRIDAY WILL BE MOVING TO TWITTER IN MAY*** Twitter: @SpiderComics