Artwork Title: From the Book of Genesis - Artist Name: Robert CrumbArtwork Title: From the Book of Genesis - Artist Name: Robert Crumb

From the Book of Genesis

Robert Crumb

The Book of Genesis (2009) is a comic book illustrated by American cartoonist and comic book artist Robert Crumb that purports to be a faithful, literal illustration of the Book of Genesis. It reached #1 the New York Times graphic novel bestseller list and on the Christian books list at Given Crumb's past body of work, and his professed rejection of religion, many assumed when the book was announced that it would be a satire or otherwise profane or subversive send-up, and were surprised or disappointed to find it "straight-faced". Crumb "resist[ed] the temptation to go all-out Crumb on us and exaggerate the sordidness, the primitivism and the outright strangeness" found in the Bible—the depictions of sex are explicit, but not gratuitous. In his introduction to the book, Crumb writes he has "faithfully reproduced every word of the original text," each word hand-lettered. The book's cover contains the warning, "Adult Supervision Recommended for Minors". The book has been controversial, particularly for the explicit illustrations of sexual intercourse described in the text itself. In critical circles, it has drawn fire over whether and how literal the illustration job is, or should be. The book was published by W. W. Norton & Company on October 19, 2009, in book form—the book was never serialized prior to being published. The publisher wanted to title the book The Book of Genesis According to Robert Crumb, but Crumb insisted on changing "According to" to "Illustrated by". The book took over four years for Crumb to finish. Holed up in a shepherd's hut in the south of France (where he and his family live), his wife Aline would bring him baskets of food. Drawn in his signature scratchy, obsessively crosshatched drawing style, Crumb avoided doing a satirical or psychedelic take on the work, as would have been expected. Reviewers have called the style "humanizing", with a "human-looking deity" with "enormous, hairy, veiny hands"; unlike much later Christian art, which Europeanized the characters from the Old and New Testaments, the characters in Crumb's book are "plac[ed...] squarely in the Middle East — and populat[ed...] with distinctly Semitic-looking people". The clothing and sets in the book were based on stills from classic Hollywood movies, as "there's not a lot of documentation about how people dressed and lived in ancient Mesopotamia." Crumb originally intended to do a sendup of the Book of Genesis, but "I fooled around in the sketchbooks with those ideas and I just, I didn't like how it was working out so I just decided to do a straight illustration job of it. It seemed to me that the original text was so strange in its own way that there was no need to do any sendup or satire of it. My trial efforts to do that seemed lame, it wasn't working out." Many reviewers found it surprising that Crumb kept the depictions of sex "tame", given that he is so well known for his explicit depictions of sex.... Chester Brown wrote "Robert Crumb is probably the world's greatest living cartoonist, and his The Book of Genesis (2009) might be his masterpiece. It's certainly the best comics adaptation of biblical material that I know of." Brown cited The Book of Genesis as an influence on his own biblical graphic novel, Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus. (


Arthur is a Digital Museum

We haven't opened yet, but somehow you found us. Join the list for early access.