Biblical Archaeology Review 37:3, May/June 2011

ReViews: Biblical Comics No Laughing Matter

Famed illustrator R. Crumb and the even more famous first book of the Bible: Is this a match made in heaven or in a location far more terrestrial?

No BAR reader is unfamiliar with the Book of Genesis, at least in its broad contours. For those not acquainted with R. Crumb, it is worth noting that he is well known as an “underground” artist, whose works (of which “Fritz the Cat” is probably the most widely recognized) feature satire and sexuality with a distinctive artistic style. How do these features figure in the present work?

The cover for his illustrated Book of Genesis consists primarily of a color illustration of God exiling Adam and Eve from the Garden. (Interestingly, the illustration of this action, narrated in Genesis 3, differs inside the book itself from this cover picture.) God, robed in white, with long white hair and a long beard, points an accusatory finger at the human couple as they walk, downtrodden, hand-in-hand from the verdure of the Garden to a forbiddingly desolate and uncertain future. Adam has a farm implement over his left shoulder, and Eve, casting a look back toward the Lord, is shedding tears. God looks pretty much the same throughout Crumb’s Genesis, and all of the human characters, male and female, bear more than a passing resemblance to their forebears, Adam and Eve respectively. All of this is in keeping with Crumb’s artistic reputation and, it might be argued, with the Biblical text itself.

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