Borin Van Loon: IntroBuddha GGIntroducing... Buddha - a graphic guide


Icon Books (UK), Totem Books (USA). 
Written by Jane Hope, Illustrated / designed by Borin Van Loon
"It is exceptionally entertaining, brilliantly written and illustrated." (See Reviews below)

Meditation, Karma, Zen, Tantric, Nirvana - these are some of the many Buddhist ideas that have entered our Western popular idiom, usually inappropriately. What is the truth of Buddhism, its history and variety of practices? This vast and complex non-theistic religion is woven into the fabric of Asian civilizations from India to the Himalayan regions, China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan and elsewhere.

Introducing Buddha describes the life and teachings of the Buddha. Author Jane Hope, who has herself taught Buddhism extensively, also shows that enlightenment is a matter of experiencing the truth individually and by inspiration which is passed from the teacher to the student. The book illuminates this process through a rich legacy of stories and explains the practices of meditation, Taoism and Zen. It goes on to describe the role of buddhism in modern Asia and its growing influence on Western thought. Introducing Eastern Philosophy provides an interesting companion-piece.

Borin Van Loon: Illustrator: Introducing Buddha cover
Cover for original edition of Introducing Buddha by Borin Van Loon

This was my third book in the Icon Beginners series. After 'Darwin' had formed one of the four relaunched titles in 1992, followed by Steve Jones' 'Genetics', Buddha gave me a chance to attend to the more spiritual side. My main approach to drawing Buddha was to make him a cypher, an everyman. There are many Buddhas and his earthly existence is a constantly reworked myth, so he should be largely faceless as a comic book character. In this way he walked through all his early, life-changing experiences enabling us to impose our own interpretations on his actions and impulses. The initial letter of each heading in this book is represented by the appropriate engraved 'deaf and dumb' hand signal to echo the significant gestures of some Buddhist monks.

Head in the clouds    Ommmmm...

Reviews

Stumbling into the Buddha in Brooklyn. I have always found it interesting when books seem to randomly, perhaps auspiciously, find their way into my life. I find it particularly interesting when these books are dharma books. I am sure many of you out there have experienced this as well, but occasionally it is as if we do not find certain teachings, but they find us.
A few days ago, while walking my dog, I found myself straying from the usual route and before long, the two of us were taking a long walk through the streets of Brooklyn. Brooklyn is a fascinating, complex, and vast borough, and I have always loved the fact that no matter how long I live there, I can still discover neighborhoods I've never seen before. On one block I came across an old man selling books out of a milk crate. Most all were novels save an old, beat-up copy of Introducing Buddha, a short illustrated introduction to Buddhism written by Jane Hope and illustrated by Borin Van Loon. Five minutes and five dollars later I found myself sitting on neareby steps reading while my dog caught his breath in the shade. As I read I quickly noticed that beyond it's comic-book charm, it contained some surprisingly pithy and well-written descriptions. Here are a few pages from it:
On lineage and knowledge:
Borin Van Loon: Buddha sample 1   On Mahayana: Borin Van Loon: Buddha sample 2
On absolute and relative truth: Borin Van Loon: Buddha sample 3   On Buddhism in "The West": Borin Van Loon: Buddha sample 4
Review on tricycle website, July 15, 2010 (http://www.tricycle.com/blog/stumbling-buddha-brooklyn)

I am so smitten by your work. 
Introducing Buddha is the work of yours that I have around my house.  My 5-yr-old regularly picks it up and hands it to me.  She looks at the pictures with me and wants to talk about them all.   Of course, us mature minds find many rational reasons to appreciate it as well :) Thank you, and have a beautiful day.  Michelle McGee

Dear Mr Borin!! My name is Mark Nemirovsky.I was born in the Soviet Unuon,emmigrated in the Israel in 1985,work here like caretaker.I certainly was Budda in  one of my past lifes,
and I want to say.that real name of Budda was Hautama,but Sidartha is the name of his father. like Sid of Mark Twain in the book "Tom Soyer".I very like your illustrations to the book "Budda": the portrait of mother Budda Mayadevi,the portrait of Vimalakirti(like Usama Ben Ladan)...
Thank You for wonderfull illustrations to the book about Budda.

I really liked this book on Buddhism,
and I have to say, I'm not usually a fan of graphic novels and the like. It's a comprehensive little volume, with brief, illustrated blurbs on Buddhist history and practice. I felt like I got a lot out of it and will be keeping it around for reference. The illustrations are really something, sometimes I feel like they do a better job of illustrating the concept than the copy, although the writing is really good, too. Hope, I think, does a fine job of distilling some of these more escoteric concepts and making them easier for a Western audience to digest. She also hand-picks stories from the tradition to punctuate her points. There's a short, annotated bibliography at the end of the book. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about Buddhism, I really enjoyed it.
Litchick (May 27, 2011). www.goodreads.com

Presented in the style of a 'Horrible History' book, with large illustrations dominating the page and nuggets of choice information dotted about the page in easily digestable bites, I thought I could read this book and reinforce my basic knowledge of Buddhism whilst filling in any gaps I might have. Unfortunately, I never finished the book. Despite each page or double page being devoted to a different subject, I found the different sections of text so disjointed I found it hard to take anything in. Given that many Buddhist speakers will talk for hours on end on one aspect of Buddhism, I'm not convinced the 'short and sweet' approach works. The text rambles far too much to convay anything but the very foundations of Buddhism and the life of Buddha and these are covered within the very first few pages.
Amanda (Jan 09, 2009) www.goodreads.com

Interesting concept and lay-out for discussing one of Humanities largest Religions. It is essentially a graphic novel with the telling of one interpretation of the Buddha's enlightenment and certain points of the Buddhist way of living.
Jordan Albright (Jun 25, 2011). www.goodreads.com

If you starting from little more than scratch and are just curious about Buddhism as a whole. this book is a great place to start.
from an Email I sent to a friend recommending this book:
'The heavy-stylization has one huge Pro and one minor “con”. The positive effect is that the narrative is very conversational and therefore easily understood, the negative is that you can feel like people think you are reading a children’s book. (you can decide if this is a bad thing or not for yourself). I read it in College (5 yrs ago) and it made reading the more extensive or abstract texts much more accessible.' 
Johnflynch (Aug 15, 2008). www.goodreads.com

A really quick overview of the main ideas and principles behind Buddhism. A great place to start if you know absolutely nothing about the subject.
David (Nov 04, 2007) www.goodreads.com

Short, cute and fairly honest. Fast-food reading, but tasty as a snack.
Nathan (Nov 11, 2009) www.goodreads.com

With its distinctive philosopy, its specific terminology, and its many groups, schools and sects, sorting out the basics of Buddhism
can be somewhat daunting for new-comers... and no-so-newcomers, too. The books in this section are ones I've found particularly direct and useful - both for "intellectual" understanding, and for clear presentations of the heart of Buddhism - how we practice in everyday life. These are the titles I mention frequently when someone asks me for suggested "getting started" reading.
My recommendations emphasize books that make an effort to be balanced and non-sectarian - without diluting the differences between the various Buddhist paths. I've also leaned toward western Buddhist teachers - or traditional teachers who have spent considerable time in the West - because of their familiarity with the perspectives and issues those of us raised in predominantly Christian cultures may bring to Buddhist study and practice.
Introducing Buddha by Jane Hope and Borin Van Loon / Paperback /Published 1994. This is a fun-to-read starter book, loaded with illustrations and easy on text. It does a nice job of summarizing both the history of Buddhism and the major schools and practices, giving newcomers a quick overview and a basic understanding of common Buddhist terms that have found their way into use in the West. I frequently suggest this book for those who are curious about Buddhism - a good choice for your non-Buddhist friends who wonder what you've gotten yourself into! Uncredited review (http://www.purifymind.com/BuddhismStart.htm)

A concise yet expansive summary of the origin and development of Buddhism,
Introducing Buddha describes the life and teachings of the Buddha in an easy-to-understand way. Covering a lot of ground, it approaches its vast subject with little jargon, yet manages to capture the spirit of the teachings of Siddhartha. Clearly presented, the graphics have been superbly illustrated in fine line drawings reminiscent of a comic book, giving this book a light-hearted feel to what is considered somewhat dense, philosophical subject matter. This results in easy and efficient learning. You’ll learn all about the Buddha history, traditions, culture, and philosophy and the many experiences of sudden enlightenments and flashes of epiphany, as well as the practices of meditation, Taoism and Zen. It goes on to describe the role of Buddhism in modern Asia and its growing influence on Western thought. Introducing Buddha is a lovely book to get you started in Buddhism and is deceptively a “great book” despite it’s small format – don’t write it off! (http://completeyoga.co.za/2011/04/introducing-buddha)

I don't like the illustrations.. it's scary ^^;; (3 stars. Qonita)
www.goodreads.com

So cool, so fun, leave it in your bathroom!
Seriously! (5 stars. Heidi)
www.goodreads.com

Good intro to Buddha and Buddhism.
The best I have read out of four or five intros to the subject. Describes the life and teachings of the Buddha. This book also shows that enlightenment is a matter of experiencing the truth individually and by inspiration which is passed from teacher to student. It illuminates this process through several stories and explains the practices of meditation, Taoism and Zen. (5 stars. Neonsolid Solidia)
www.goodreads.com

If you starting from little more than scratch and are just curious about Buddhism as a whole. this book is a great place to start.
From an Email I sent to a friend recommending this book: 'The heavy-stylization has one huge Pro and one minor “con”. The positive effect is that the narrative is very conversational and therefore easily understood, the negative is that you can feel like people think you are reading a children’s book. (you can decide if this is a bad thing or not for yourself)'. I read it in College (5 yrs ago) and it made reading the more extensive or abstract texts much more accessible.  (5 stars. Johnflynch)
www.goodreads.com

A wonderful book!
Fantastically illustrated, it is amazingly concise and interesting! Jane Hope seems to have solid scholarship behind her ideas and the illustrator makes everything very clear and easy to understand (and, often, quite hilarious!) It is true, as previous reviews said, that it is more about Buddhism than Buddha. But you do get the historical and cultural history of Siddhartha Gautama, who becomes known as the Buddha, as well as introductions to kharma, dharma, tantra, taoism and many other intriguing aspects of Buddha's legacy:-) (5 stars. Ryan)
www.goodreads.com

... If only we could put our worry aside –
a recent Sunday Times report (13 Sep 09) reported that a drug that will wipe out troubling memories has just been developed; but a chemically induced fug doesn’t really seem to be the answer for any of life’s problems.  Maybe a little mind-training to be in the ‘present’, such as with T’ai Chi, would help; Jane Hope and Borin Van Loon in ‘Buddha for Beginners’ put it very nicely:
  "We are pre-occupied with the past, which has already happened, and we are pre-occupied about the future, which does not yet exist. We worry about what will happen and we think about various things that make us feel anxious, frustrated, passionate, angry, resentful, afraid. While we are so preoccupied, our awareness of the here-and-now slips by and we hardly notice its passing. We eat without tasting, we look without seeing and live without ever perceiving what is real."
 Here it may be interesting to see how a couple of aspects of the above relate to a wider context.  Take the concept of ‘stuckness’ in body and mind, for instance, which results from a Spleen imbalance; and then link it to the ‘connectedness’ felt from well-balanced Lungs.  If you are ‘stuck’ to something, then you are ‘attached’ to it.  So to follow the mantra in T’ai Chi and Buddhist circles, etc, to ‘connect, not attach’ (both physically and mentally), then you will nourish both your Spleen and Lungs and greatly benefit the creation and maintenance of your Qi. ...
(Extracted from The Autumn of our Yearsby Metta on Wed 14 Oct 2009. http://blog-nca.chinese-medicine.co.uk/)

This one is a lot of fun,
a quick read, and you'll be surprised how much genuine information you'll get from it. It's one of those illustrated graphic texts, done by the same people who did the series of books like Freud for Beginners, Marxism for Beginners, etc. ("...for Beginners" has now been changed to "Introducing...") The illustrations by van Loon are just that: Looney retro-interpretations that can be fun, illuminating and downright hilarious in places. And Jane Hope does an excellent job of giving the meat of an overview of Buddhism. Starting from its historical beginning with Siddharta/Shakyamuni Buddha, she goes through it's progression through the east in China, Indonesia, Korea, Japan and then the modern West, the different flavors of the teachings that emerged from each culture, how each reflect a different aspect of the same basic teaching, and their reflections in Modern Western Thought. Bet you never thought you'd get all that from a book full of cartoons. (http://home.earthlink.net/~faddahwolf/readings.html)

A book true to its name. A book that gives you a brief idea on Buddah's teaching, his life, and development of the religion. Briefs of the schools of religion that follow the same teaching are also provided. Good overall picture given on the links between the original teaching and the later development of the religion. You can definitely understand more about the relationships between the original teaching and the subsequent development and branches of Buddhism after reading the book. A simply delightful and simple read. (
5 stars. A reader from Hong Kong)

This is a fun-to-read starter book, loaded with illustrations and easy on text. It does a nice job of summarizing both the history of Buddhism and the major schools and practices, giving newcomers a quick overview and a basic understanding of common Buddhist terms that have found their way into use in the West. I frequently suggest this book for those who are curious about Buddhism - a good choice for your non-Buddhist friends who wonder what you've gotten yourself into! (www.khandro.com/bookstore/check.gif (Bodhisatdva Bookstore))

I recommend this fully illustrated book to those who would simply like to know who the Buddha was, what Buddhism is, and what the basic differences between the main Buddhist traditions are. (R.C. Toonen, eNtRopY site)

Remarkably informative and readable 'cartoon' book. (Amida Trust - Sheffield)

Excellent Introduction to Buddhism. If you want a concise yet accurate summary of the origin and development of Buddhism, this is the book to buy. The text is easy to understand, and the book covers a lot of ground on the subject without using a lot of jargon. The illustrations are vivid and often humorous. A lot of people have misconceptions of what Buddhism really is; this book will help you understand the true spirit of the teachings of Siddhartha. It's a lot different than what you may have thought! Rating: 5 (http://www.anybook4less.com/detail/1840460768.html)

This is the best book on Buddhism I've seen. It's very concise, clear and enjoyable to read. The graphics are quite entertaining as well. This is the most readable and understandable book you will find on Buddha's teachings.' Charles S., a college student in Tennessee, February 5, 2001, 5stars.(http://search.barnesandnoble.com)

If you want a concise yet accurate summary of the origin and development of Buddhism, this is the book to buy. The text is easy to understand, and the book covers a lot of ground on the subject without using a lot of jargon. The illustrations are vivid and often humorous. A lot of people have misconceptions of what Buddhism really is; this book will help you understand the true spirit of the teachings of Siddhartha. It's a lot different than what you may have thought! (http://www.fetchbook.info)

..."Introducing Buddha" by Jane Hope and Borin Van Loon, an excellent little intro
to the history of Buddhist traditions and practice. I would be happy to lend it to anyone. (http://www.nonsensical.com/work/development/buddha/)

Review by UK guest 11th Feb 2004
User Ratings: Value for money 10/10 Overall rating 10/10
A book that gives you a breif idea on buddah's teaching, his life, and development of the the religion. Briefs of the schools of religion that follow the same teaching are also provided. Good overall picture given on the links between the original teaching and the later development of the religion. You can definitely understand more about the relationships between the original teaching and the subsequent development and branches of buddah after reading the book. A simply delightful and simple read.
Recommended: Yes (http://www.reviewcentre.com/review70591.html)

Introducing Buddha is the first of its kind to combine Jane Hope’s brilliant literature perfectly with the simple yet entertaining illustrations of Borin Van Loon. Buddhism is one of the oldest, and least understood religious practices still in existence today. Its sudden spread to the western world has given rise to many books on the subject of meditation and tantric executions. Very few give anywhere near the scope and essential truth of Introducing Buddha. By a description of historical structure and the spread of Buddhism, even beginners to Buddhism can clearly understand complex concepts and ideas that are made difficult by obscure texts and specific reference to little known idioms. This modern original can be read time after time and something new will always be learned. It is exceptionally entertaining, brilliantly written and illustrated.
Reviewed by Lydia, 12th grade (http://lsnhs.leesummit.k12.mo.us/fpentlin/HomePageNew/What'sNew/Read/Books.htm)

A simple introduction. This review is of Introducing Buddha (Introducing...) (Paperback)
This book is a good and easy to read summary. Of course any summary is bound to be an over-simplification.
The illustrations are the weakest point. For some reason the illustrator of this book gives the Buddha open eyes, which is atypical. May be he is worried that the usual lidded-eye Buddha will not engage the reader.
Also the choice of images are not always apt. An image of the Earth Goddess washing her hair to sweep away Mara, his daughters and his demons thus rescuing the Buddha is shown as if the Earth Goddess is one of the lascivious temptresses.
By "billhoad"
,  26 April 2005

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