Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Buried Treasure: John Lehti's Tales of the Great Book

In 1954, John Lehti was still looking for an original strip idea to pitch to the newspaper, syndicates when he came up with the notion of a Bible-inspired feature called Tales from the Great Book which sold accordingly as a Sunday only strip to Publisher Syndicate. Lehti, over the next eighteen years, presented some entertaining Biblical epics that felt more like the Hollywood motion pictures of the time, respectful yet not preachy in tone, based mostly on the dramatic spectacles of the Old Testament. Lehti could tell the exciting action-packed story like David and Goliath or a "quiet" tale from the Book of Ester with equal flair, drawn in his pleasant detailed style. Often starting or ending the Sunday page with a Bible verse to better summarize his storyline, the dialogue was a interesting combination of modern American expressions and King Charles English. But, I fondly remember reading this feature in my local Dallas paper as a child, especially enjoying the large historic battle scenes, or saintly acts of courage the heroes encounters from their often overwhelming Biblical odds.

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