Monday, March 15, 2010

R. Crumb's Illustrated Genesis.

I've been reading R. Crumb's illustrated version of the Book of Genesis, and I've been meaning to blog about it for a while, because it routinely floors me. Unfortunately, every post I can think to write about it would sound like this:

You know that part when Judah hires a prostitute, and he doesn't know it is his daughter-in-law because she is wearing a veil, and he gets her pregnant, and then when she is going to be burned at the stake for being a whore she says "Judah is totally my baby daddy, and here I've got his ceremonial seal to prove it."

That's fucked up, man.

Crumb totally made the right decision to simply illustrate Genesis at face value. He even portrays God as a man with a long white beard. By taking Genesis at its word, Crumb transforms his amazing comics mojo into a conduit for the total fucked-up-edness that is the Bible.

Also fucked up: the fact that Tamar (the daughter-in-law) is pretending to be some kind of temple prostitute and that her fee is a baby sheep.


The Modesto Kid said...

Have you read Genesis previously? I'm finding (at least in the first several chapters) that I'm familiar enough with the text, I need to make a conscious effort to slow down and look at the pictures, and let them influence my understanding of the words. I just love the facial expressions he's giving these people, the first people in the world, they look really gung-ho and excited about being there.

I liked Crumb's introduction a lot, except I'm a little perplexed by his statement that he sometimes changed the text to make it clearer -- he says that right before he says (if I'm reading correctly) he doesn't think it's necessary or proper to do that.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

I don't think I've had the patience to read Genesis straight through slowly and carefully before. Being inspired to do that is part of what makes Crumb's book fun.

I think what he means in the introduction is that he has basically used that one guy's translation, but he deviated from it in a few places where he thought he could provide a better translation. I'm betting, though, that his changes are based on evidence from the story line and popular scholarship, rather than any Hebrew he's picked up.

The Modesto Kid said...

Every couple of years I make an attempt to read the Bible, get bogged down and put it down after a week or so... but over the years these attempts have given me a pretty thorough knowledge of Genesis, bits of Exodus, I Samuel, a few of the prophets, and the gospel. (Man I would love to see Crumb's illustration of I Samuel, which is an order of magnitude more fucked-up than Genesis.)

Holytape said...

Genesis is fucked up, and it only gets worse from there. I would like to see Crumb do Revelations, or Daniel.
Shnoah's Ark