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Mr SuperNatural
June 27, 2009 10:06 AM   Subscribe

The Book of Genesis illustrated by Robert Crumb. Extracts of Crumb's latest work, years in the making and to be published in October, are serialized in the French cultural weekly Telerama during this summer (warning: bad interface, text in French). Short interview with the author here.

A scan (in English) from the New Yorker preview can be seen here, but with some images messed up in addition to being illegal.
posted by elgilito (51 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I tried long and hard to find an online version of The New Yorker's coverage of this to post on the Blue, but it was a lost cause. Thank you for posting this. It's good to see it here, finally.
posted by hippybear at 10:09 AM on June 27, 2009


Oh, man. This is the kind of thing you sit around drinking with friends and saying "you know what would be totally awesome..." but you just know would never actually happen.
posted by cortex at 10:11 AM on June 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


saw the New Yorker extract and was hardly impressed though I like Crumb
posted by Postroad at 10:14 AM on June 27, 2009


Postroad: For me, the New Yorker piece only started my imagination going through the rest of the book of Genesis, and realizing exactly what kind of marvels and mysteries we were going to witness in the full published volume. There's some seriously freaky shit in there.
posted by hippybear at 10:29 AM on June 27, 2009


Yeah, the opening of Genesis is relatively tame—though I do like his handling of the emotional dynamic and of the God/human confrontation in appropriately literal-feeling God-as-tangible-myth-figure—but the promise of a careful, straight-faced Crumb take on the whole Genesis arc is just really, really exciting to me.

It doesn't need to be Fritz The Cat, Bible Edition: the guy is a tremendous illustrator in general, and seeing him work under this kind of constraint, in long form, makes me happy.
posted by cortex at 10:33 AM on June 27, 2009


Bad. ASS. I haven't been this stoked about Crumb or the Bible in years and years.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:36 AM on June 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


This does for Crumb what Twelve did for Patti Smith.

This is not intended to be a compliment.

posted by squalor at 10:45 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I also saw this in the New Yorker. When I saw it listed in the table of contents, I wasn't excited, but when I read the introduction, about how it had started off as a goof (which I think we all expected) but then became a serious thing, and that he read multiple translations and talked to religious leaders about how to interpret it, the fact that he decided to do it seriously and respectfully (which carries no need for reverence) made me much more interested in the whole thing than if it were just some LOLGOD stuff.

Then I actually read it, and I thought it was super. I can't wait to read the rest. Does anybody know when it will actually be out?
posted by paisley henosis at 10:47 AM on June 27, 2009


Does anybody know when it will actually be out?

Preorder at Amazon, release date October 19
posted by hippybear at 10:51 AM on June 27, 2009


If, instead of being in the New Yorker, you had seen this in Young Christian Weekly, signed by Joe Fundy, you would all be slapping your thighs and rolling your eyes, "Haw! Haw! Lookit him! He thinks God is an actually man with a white beard, Haw! Haw!" And if you ever got done laughing at the creationism of it all, you'd be sneering at the stiff drawing style, the boring sameness of the pen and ink hatching, and the solemn, literalness of angles and layout -- before tossing it aside. You might even want to compare Joe Fundy's drawing style to the brash, exuberant style and fearless approach of the young Robert Crumb, before he became the world's most pussy-whipped human being, and so cowed by his liberal admirers that he's afraid to admit that he might, just actually, kinda, maybe believe in God.
posted by Faze at 11:18 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eve's got a nice rack. A little heavy in the hips, though. I guess that will help with child-bearing.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:24 AM on June 27, 2009


Whither that pile of crazy, Faze?

If this had been in YCW, signed by Joe Fundy, I would have wondered why R. Crumb was doing work for YCW under a pseudonym (or where this guy aping Crumb came from). Maybe wondered if there was some sort of strange Jack Chick meme thing tying into it.

But, you know, go you with the nutty freakout there.
posted by cortex at 11:24 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


You gotta hand it to R. Crumb: you knew exactly what Naked Eve was gonna look like before you ever loaded the web page.
posted by Nelson at 11:26 AM on June 27, 2009 [16 favorites]


Eve's got a nice rack. A little heavy in the hips, though. I guess that will help with child-bearing.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:24 AM on June 27 [+] [!]



Actually it looks like Eve also has a Hottentot bustle.
posted by 445supermag at 11:33 AM on June 27, 2009


I hope you'll indulge me with a self-link, when I looked at the drawings I went and found, scanned and uploaded, a drawing I did in 1973.
posted by Restless Day at 11:38 AM on June 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


and so cowed by his liberal admirers that he's afraid to admit that he might, just actually, kinda, maybe believe in God.

Huh?
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:49 AM on June 27, 2009


Faze - Walter Tango Foxtrot?
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:54 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The really interesting question, of course, is: do Adam and Eve have navels? It looks as though Crumb has cunningly chosen to leave this mystery unresolved, with some artful shading, carefully positioned fronds of foliage, etc, around the navel region.
posted by verstegan at 12:16 PM on June 27, 2009


hippybear: Preorder at Amazon, release date October 19

Thanks, I didn't realize where Amazon kept the release date for upcoming things.

Faze: If, instead of being in the New Yorker, you had seen this in Young Christian Weekly, signed by Joe Fundy, you would all be slapping your thighs and rolling your eyes, "Haw! Haw! Lookit him! He thinks God is an actually man with a white beard, Haw! Haw!" And if you ever got done laughing at the creationism of it all, you'd be sneering at the stiff drawing style, the boring sameness of the pen and ink hatching, and the solemn, literalness of angles and layout -- before tossing it aside. You might even want to compare Joe Fundy's drawing style to the brash, exuberant style and fearless approach of the young Robert Crumb, before he became the world's most pussy-whipped human being, and so cowed by his liberal admirers that he's afraid to admit that he might, just actually, kinda, maybe believe in God.

It's true that this is more compelling and interesting because it is Crumb. For me, the fact that he has chosen to handle this in the way that he has is more interesting than the art itself. This isn't akin to the highly devotional, if nutty, William Blake illustrating Biblical stories. A more fair comparison would be the highly irreligious Trent Reznor doing an absolutely honest and sincere version, to the best of his ability, of Handel's Messiah. Regardless of what you think of the work or the performer, it is compelling because it is so unexpected, and with the performer's ability, and the history of the source, it is bound to be an interesting final product.

Also, you seem to have completely missed the fact that Crumb himself said that this was originally a lark, he didn't do it because he is now filled with devotion, he planned to do it satirically, but decided that doing it sincerely would be both a welcome challenge and create a more interesting final work.

But thanks for "adding" something to the conversation.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:17 PM on June 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Actually, I see Crumb's artwork regularly in The New Yorker, as he and his wife are regular columnists there. I would have recognized it at once, although I would have been puzzled by his insistence in publishing in YCW under a nom de plume. But I've followed his career long enough to see culture jamming as part of his milieu, and would have been more fascinated by the metamessage than I am with it appearing in The New Yorker.

As one caveat, it likely would not have been published in YCW without a significant amount of editing. Penis and breast drawings are likely to raise a bit of a fuss amongst the readership.

Is R. Crumb on record as saying he doesn't believe in God?
posted by hippybear at 12:22 PM on June 27, 2009


The Bible in comic book form?
posted by Cranberry at 12:23 PM on June 27, 2009


I'm glad he decided not to do it satirically. Genesis is strange and mysterious and fraught with baggage enough on its own; any attempt to satirize it to "make a statement" could only come across as shallow and adolescent.

His panels of God forming Adam and breathing life into him are so beautiful.
posted by fleetmouse at 12:27 PM on June 27, 2009


Robert Crumb's sentiments were always transparent, and we were always on his side because he expressed feelings of personal misery we could all identify with. His doing a literal illustration of Genesis is awful. It leaves little doubt that he's gone Jack Chick-a Boom Bust, trying to justify his resentment toward women with a book that has so many people enslaved in ignorance. Take your Jewish God, Crumb, and shove Him.

But Faze, you got it wrong about the drawing quality. It's good. (Except for that weird part where God's lip is protruding into Adam's shoulder.)
posted by gorgor_balabala at 12:31 PM on June 27, 2009


That's probably enough attention for Faze's contrarian flipout. Since when is not believing in God a requirement for one with "liberal admirers"? I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't recognize the scent of flamebait sooner.

I keep reloading the Tree of Knowledge page. Trees are goddamn hard to draw well, and I really like how this one is rendered. I'm also really digging the literalism - I like how the pre-Fruit o'Knowledge serpent sports limbs, then gets them cursed off. I'm really looking forward to seeing how Cain & Abel are handled.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:34 PM on June 27, 2009


Uh, Crumb discusses God in the NYer link. He says he occasionally turns to the Bible for guidance. The article also says Crumb, "suspects that God exists".

And if we chase Faze from Metafilter, then Metafilter will be out of Faze.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:36 PM on June 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


I love the title of this post.
posted by not_on_display at 12:36 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm really looking forward to seeing how Cain & Abel are handled.

Yeah, seriously. That whole psychodynamic is like Edenic Splendor, volume one.
posted by cortex at 12:42 PM on June 27, 2009


Faze is right: THIS IS WHERE IT'S AT, BAY-BEEEEE!!!!

I considered doing a Bible webcomic for a while - basically a one panel per verse deal that was, like most of my endeavors, far more ambitious than my talent or endurance would ever allow for. About an hour after I posted Genesis 1:1, someone left a comment along the lines of 'NO WAI LOLO'.

It made walking away from the project a little easier.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:42 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Surely the point is that by treating it literally, and leaving the weird fucked-up shit to speak for itself, Crumb has produced something utterly subversive of orthodox religion? There's nothing in these drawings that even the most hardcore fundamentalist could object to, and yet ..
posted by verstegan at 12:50 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


we were always on his side because he expressed feelings of personal misery we could all identify with...

I always liked Crumb because he could draw like a sonovabitch and was often very funny. Who knew I had been doing it wrong all these years?

It leaves little doubt that he's gone Jack Chick-a Boom Bust, trying to justify his resentment toward women with a book that has so many people enslaved in ignorance. Take your Jewish God, Crumb, and shove Him.

From the article: "By the time [Crumb] came to the story of Noah, though, he was annoyed. He had begun to realize, he says, that 'the whole thing is a piece of patriarchal propaganda, engineered to consciously and deliberately suppress matriarchy'... Crumb, who says he suspects that God exists, is broadly curious about the spiritual forces is the universe. He occasionally turns to Ecclesiastes and the Gospel of Thomas for spiritual guidance, but thinks it would be crazy to try and find any spiritual meaning in Genesis: 'It's must too primitive.' "

Are you people illiterate, or just lazy?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:54 PM on June 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Crumb doesn't need to have turned into a religious nutjob, or to want to subvert religion. He's just illustrating Genesis, warts and all.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:54 PM on June 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Are you people illiterate, or just lazy?
posted by hippybear at 12:56 PM on June 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Alvy - this is apparently the thread to A) not RTFA and B) tie the subject at hand to your favorite historical or political hobby-horse by the most tenuous of threads. So, with that in mind ...

... I think what R. Crumb is really trying to say with this piece is that Vasily Zaitzev was a total badass and that Rorschach never, ever, ever did any kung-fu! Oh, and that Cryptonomicon is the greatest novel ever written.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:01 PM on June 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


¬°Fantastico!
posted by Mister_A at 1:03 PM on June 27, 2009


Thanks Alvy &c. for straightening out the reactionary zealots up there, btw.
posted by Mister_A at 1:04 PM on June 27, 2009


But... but... *waves*
posted by stinkycheese at 1:09 PM on June 27, 2009


I'm not sure that it was clear in my post, but the chapters will be uploaded on line once a week on Sunday on the Telerama website (the magazine is published on Wednesday). The next extract is about Noah's ark. Noah is looking a little wild-eyed but otherwise the episode is beautifully rendered. I'm really looking forward to the entire book.

For the record, Telerama started (in the late 40s) as a church leaflet that gave catholic readers informed opinion about what they should/should not listen to on radio, or see at the movies (and later watch on TV). It moved leftward and religion-neutral in the next decades but it never completely shed its humble religious beginnings, so having God on the cover isn't unexpected, though it's probably one of the most religious-themed cover they've done in recent times.
posted by elgilito at 1:09 PM on June 27, 2009


Wake me up when he gets to Revelations.
posted by GuyZero at 2:04 PM on June 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


All I can say is, I hope God likes this enough to keep Crumb alive and working for as long as possible.
posted by Phanx at 2:40 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eve's got a nice rack. A little heavy in the hips, though. I guess that will help with child-bearing.

Crumb's always favored the big-bottomed ladies. I'm glad to see he remains consistent in this regard. (But I think Eve looks a little too much like Devil Girl. Or maybe that's intentional.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:51 PM on June 27, 2009


Not to be cynical, but a straight interpretation of Genesis could probably make a lot of money. I mean, a lot of people buy bible related products.
posted by delmoi at 3:04 PM on June 27, 2009


I love the Simpsons style God with the white beard and all...
posted by schmorker at 3:31 PM on June 27, 2009


For the record, Telerama started (in the late 40s) as a church leaflet that gave catholic readers informed opinion about what they should/should not listen to on radio, or see at the movies (and later watch on TV).

Thanks, I was not aware of this.
posted by Wolof at 4:15 PM on June 27, 2009


"Simpsons style God"

He's got five fingers alright (so do Adam and Eve, most of the time).

One of God's distinctive features is that he is the only Simpsons character to be drawn with five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot, though not always (there have been scenes where God has only four fingers like everyone else in the show).
posted by 445supermag at 4:18 PM on June 27, 2009


I guess hoping for God to look like Mr. Natural is too much to ask for.
posted by digsrus at 4:23 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


1992: I was 15 and attending what would be one of my last comic conventions, the Dallas Fantasy Fair. I collected comics, sure, but mostly the conventions were an excuse to get a hotel room with a bunch of friends and get fucked up for three days straight. I never had a lot of money to spend at them, and what little money I had went mostly towards pot and booze. The comics I bought were usually from the quarter or dollar bins. For a couple of years I'd made it a tradition to buy some goofy book - Tom & Jerry or The Cross & the Switchblade - and try to get as many artists as I could to sign it.

On the second day of the convention, word spread that Robert Crumb was going to be making an appearance. Though not yet well schooled in the department of underground comics, I knew this was a big deal. My friends and I took a few gravity bong hits in out room and headed down to the Crumb thing. When we got there, we were disappointed to find that he wasn't doing a panel or signing books. He was playing music, a mixture of the old-timey jazz & bluegrass that he was known to love, a style of music that we found to be unbelievably dull. Still, I knew I was in the presence of greatness, and while my friends filed out one by one, I sat through the whole nostalgic set. When he was done playing, I was one of the only people left in the room. I timidly approached him and asked him to sign the Smurfs comic that I'd been asking all the other attending artists to sign.

"What?" he asked. "I didn't draw this! I'm not going to sign it."

I started to stammer out some excuse as to why I didn't have one of his books for him to sign, but he interrupted me. "Look," he said, pulling out his wallet, "Here's two dollars and fifty cents. Go buy one of my comics. If I'm still here when you get back, I'll sign it." I nervously thanked him, took the money, and took off running towards the convention floor, which was really far from the hotel across a huge parking lot.

It was summer and it was Texas and it was hot but I ran the entire way. When I got to the floor, I went up to the first dealer I saw and blurted out what had happened and that I needed a cheap Crumb comic. The dealer freaked out. "He's signing? Here, take this comic for free if you'll get him to sign this one!" He gave me the books and I ran all the way back.

Crumb was still there when I returned, packing up his ukulele. I gave him the comics and he signed them. In mine he wrote "I paid for this comic for Chris, 1992. R. Crumb". I still have it.

It was a few years later when the movie Crumb came out. The scene that amused me the most was the one where Crumb is visiting a comic store and refuses to sign a book for someone, saying that he doesn't do that. Poor geek. If only he'd let Crumb buy the comic for him first...
posted by item at 4:37 PM on June 27, 2009 [24 favorites]


Well if Adam and Eve weren't French maybe we wouldn't be in the predicament that we are today.
posted by mattoxic at 5:28 PM on June 27, 2009


Illiterate.
-
posted by Ron Thanagar at 9:16 PM on June 27, 2009


I have never been so excited to read Genesis as I was at the moment I learned that Crumb was rendering it. Despite knowing vaguely about Crumb for many years, it's only been in the last few, booted along by exposure to American Splendor, that I've realized what I was missing. The man pursues his art with a dedication that inspires me to try harder.
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:23 AM on June 28, 2009


I feel like I want to look at this side by side with Basil Wolverton's Bible illustrations.
posted by egypturnash at 9:27 AM on June 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


egypturnash's link got me searching for more, and here's Wolverton's Apocalypse.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:42 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


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