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R. Crumb’s Genesis book plays it straight

For those who wondered if R. Crumb could illustrate the first book of the Old Testament without adding anything blasphemous, USA Today writes that the “The Book of Genesis Illustrated” was treated as straight illustration work and not a commentary. R. Crumb’s book is released today weighing in at 224 pages.

From the USA Today story:

If people of faith say what I’ve done is blasphemous or profane, I’d shrug my shoulders and say, ‘I just illustrated what is there,’ ” Crumb says. “I’m not ridiculing it, just illustrating the exact words that are there. I restrained myself. I really didn’t want to make visual jokes about it. I hope people see it for what it is.”

Community Comments

#1 Beth Cravens
October/19/2009
@ 7:54 am

yeah, but you know how “people of faith” are…
it doesn’t take much.

#2 Les Taylor
October/19/2009
@ 9:21 am

There was a movie that came out a few years back called “The Gospel of John.” It’s not really a movie, I suppose – it’s just a cinematic production of John’s gospel. It didn’t change any of the dialogue at all though – it took it straight from the Good News translation. I noticed something while watching it though – it is impossible to add graphically to words and not change what is going on in the story in some form. This is obvious any time a book is made into a movie. Even if the producers and directors are extremely dedicated to preserving the story, they will have to change things in some way.

This is going to be the same with an illustrated work. I’ve seen some of the samples from the book, and it is obvious that these types of artistic liberties are taken. And that’s fine. I’m a person of faith and I don’t really care that much. Christian illustrators have been illustrating the Bible for thousands of years, so it’s not like Crumb did something new in illustrating the stories. But my point is that it’s silly to act like he didn’t change the story at all. By illustrating it, the interpretation of the illustrator is automatically inserted into the graphic – this is true of any illustration. And unless Crumb is going to claim he knows exactly how things looked, I’m going to have trouble believing he just “illustrated what is there.” He illustrated what he thinks is there.

But again, I don’t really care that much that he did it. I guess it could be blasphemous, but that would depend on his purpose in doing the work. Even if it is blasphemous though, it’s not like that’s a new surprising issue in our culture.

#3 Shane Davis
October/19/2009
@ 5:21 pm

“yeah, but you know how â??people of faithâ? areâ?¦
it doesnâ??t take much”

Beth, that kind of snide sideswipe is exactly what makes people of faith defensive.

Nobody’s complained about his illustration, but you’re attacking the ‘complainers’ before they complain.

Are you trying to illustrate that you are more tolerant that ‘people of faith’?
How? By attacking them?
So you can be intolerant of those you call intolerant and that makes you tolerant?
Huh?

If you think you’re perched on some enlightened pedestal above those ‘people of faith’, you just blew it.

#4 Jamie Smith
October/19/2009
@ 7:46 pm

Caught the NPR/Morning Edition (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113842476) story with excerpts from the press conference while driving to work today: an initial print run of 100k – now that’s a leap of faith!

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