Sunday, October 25, 2009

The R. Crumb Genesis!

I don't have this volume in hand yet, but I plan to soon. Yes, that icon of Lowbrow Art, R. Crumb, has published an illustrated volume based on the Biblical book of Genesis. For a number of reasons, this is tremendously exciting to me.

For those who don't recognize the name "R. Crumb", this might refresh your memories:

I knew from a pretty early age that R. Crumb and I were kindred spirits in a lot of ways. His description, in word and drawing, regarding his career as a school kid, made me like him right away.
In high school, the cartoonist was a nerd who could not get a date. As his autobiographical drawings of his high school days illustrate, he was permanently wounded by his adolescent peers' rejection.

Later I learned that, like me, he had experimented with LSD, and was a fan of female bodybuilders.

So, I have a lot of reasons to be interested in the work of R. Crumb. And I love the Bible, including the book of Genesis. So, the confluence of these two streams in the release of an R. Crumb Genesis Illustrated is just an amazing thing to me.

I will be very interested to see how he treats subjects like the destruction of Sodom.

Crumb's reasons for being interested in Genesis are probably complex, but would certainly include the lurid, earthy nature of the stories in Genesis:

HUGHES: Is God going to look like Mr. Natural?

CRUMB: Nah. He has a white beard but he actually ended up looking more like my father. He has a very masculine face like my father. My problem was, how am I going to draw God? Should I just draw him as a light in the sky that has dialogue balloons coming out from it? Then I had this dream. God came to me in this dream, only for a split second, but I saw very clearly what he looked like. And I thought, ok, there it is, I've got God.

HUGHES: And what did she look like?

CRUMB: I went through that whole thing too; maybe I'll draw God as a black woman. But if you actually read the Old Testament he's just an old, cranky Jewish patriarch. It's a lot of fun doing Genesis, actually. It's very visual. It's lurid. Full of all kinds of crazy, weird things that will really surprise people.

I will give a report on this volume after I've had a chance to look it over for myself.


Charlie Sutton said...

I heard an interview with R Crumb on NPR the other day - he thinks that Genesis is nonsense, and one reason he did the illustrated Genesis is to make it plain how strange and nonsensical the Bible is. He laughed at the idea of anyone using it for evangelism (a word he could not pronounce correctly, interestingly enough).

Anglican Beach Party said...


Up until now, I had not heard that Crumb thought Genesis to be nonsense, but he does clearly state in his forward to the Genesis book that he does not believe it to be the word of God, but rather the words of men.

While he may laugh at the idea of anyone using his "graphic novel" as an evangelistic tool, God may have other ideas about the matter.

I have often found that unbelievers can be and sometimes are more honest than Christians about the meaning of Scriptures ... simply because, for them, there is nothing "riding" on it. Christians, on the other hand, recognize that if they have interpreted a Bible passage incorrectly, entire areas of their lives may need to be rearranged once they understand the passage aright.

--Paul (Hot Rod Anglican)