R. Crumb's Book of Genesis coming in 2009


Here's a little peek at a page from Robert Crumb's forthcoming Book of Genesis, a literal adaptation from the first book in the Old Testament. It's been years-in-the-making (Here's a 2004 Guardian article about it). The only other book I'm looking forward to with as much excitment as this one is Harvey Kurtzman's Humbug anthology.

The long-awaited publication of Robert Crumb’s Book of Genesis, an adaptation of the Bible story, which Norton will be publishing in Fall 2009. I had the privilege of seeing some of the pages in France two years ago, and the scope of the work has haunted me ever since. I’m sure the religious right will be all up in arms with cliché horror that a quote unquote “cartoonist” has defamed their sacred cow, but Crumb is taking this work very seriously, and Genesis is some of his best work.
R. Crumb Illustrates The Book of Genesis literally


  1. There have been multiple cartoon bibles. So, there will probably be no big stink by them over the cartooning. There will probably be a big hoo-ha over his earlier content, and whether that marrs this comic. But, that’s Crumb specific.

  2. I think this will turn out really cool, especially if literal means literal. Isolate out the dogma and interpretation in the margins and between the lines and see what shows up.

    Snarkiness would wreck it, I think. Can’t wait to see what the end product ends up like.

  3. Religious folks will not object to the medium of sequential art being used to convey holy writings. This has been done for a long time….

  4. Hmm. Not the religious text I’d have chosen. The Book of Kells, or the Norse Eddas maybe.

    Oh, I know… the Principia Discordia. That’d be awsome. And really hard to imagine.

  5. Isn’t the whole idea of the Book of Kells that it is illustrated (or illuminated,hey Crumb is illuminating the Book of Genesis;cool.)Gospels? There’s a lot more excitement in Genesis, what with the creation of the world and all.

    I always loved Mark Twain’s observation about how God was all obsessive-compulsive with the Earth, spending five days tweaking it, and then just threw out the infinities of stars, planets, comets and everything that make up the universe on one day, kind of as an afterthought.

  6. I want to see what he does with Genesis chapter 6 when the children of God (aka angels) impregnate women thus producing children who can live forever. God has to step in and set the limit of 120 years. Naturally that gets violated a few chapters later.

    The best deconstruction of Genesis was by Robert Graves and Rafael Patai “Hebrew Myths – The Book of Genesis”.

  7. Legendary cartoonist/illustrator Basil Wolverton found religion at some point in his later years, and did renderings based on Biblical subject matter. I guess it only makes sense that none other than Crumb should follow in his footsteps.

  8. Very much looking forward to this. If anyone’s ever seen Crumb’s illustration of the religious visions of Philip K. Dick, you know what he can do when he plays it straight.

  9. I’m looking forward to this. And I don’t think the religious types will have any problem with it. It’s always cool to see visual interpretation of something you’re passionate about – I think most people would agree.

  10. > I’m sure the religious right will be all up in arms with cliché horror that a quote unquote “cartoonist” has defamed their sacred cow

    Harvey, you’re thinking of Muslims. Christians (both right and left) enjoy a good visual aid.

  11. Not sure I’d call this a cartoon bible, Sando. But I certainly hope this site will give the book an insightful review. It’ll be within 8 months now as the hype builds up towards the release…..my big question will be how well Robert Crumb himself will promote or help the publisher promote the book via personal appearances, book signings and interviews. It would be interesting hearing other’s viewpoints!

  12. Some of us appreciate Crumb as a trend setter and yes, he did break through the wall of censorship that went up after the Congressional comic book hearings in the ’50s. I had a sneak peak of the book of genesis illustrated here and wanted to compare more independent opinions.

    For some of us it’s nostalgia—I was a horny, teen-age hippie when I first discovered undergrounds back in the ’60s. That being said, if you study his body of work you start to understand the point of view he brings to even the simplest illustration. Crumb is a self-aware, sexually immature, cynic who has few heroes (blues musicians, etc.). Sure, there are better illustrators but none that would deliver the Bible from his POV. I think of Crumb as the cartoonist’s Ivan Albright. He could draw/paint the loveliest subject and still make you wonder if there wasn’t something rotten just out of view.

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