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232 of 239 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Those Who Love Crumb
Sorry to disagree with the previous review, but I think it needs to be said...if you love Crumb's art, you will love this book. I am stunned at the sheer volume of work it took to illustrate the thing. Awestruck, really. I've always loved Crumb's art and work, at first (when I was young) because he seemed so twisted and funny, but later, because I realized what a truly...
Published on October 1, 2009 by Morgan C. Valley

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66 of 90 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important, but could have been more
It's about time someone illustrated what's really in the Bible. Crumb is a bit late to the party, though. The first book to do this was Illustrated Stories from the Bible (that they won't tell you in Sunday school), by Paul John Farrell. It was released about 4 years ago. Both books have their advantages. Crumb plays it straight and the drawings are better. However, there...
Published on October 30, 2009 by Roger Moody


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232 of 239 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Those Who Love Crumb, October 1, 2009
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This review is from: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (Hardcover)
Sorry to disagree with the previous review, but I think it needs to be said...if you love Crumb's art, you will love this book. I am stunned at the sheer volume of work it took to illustrate the thing. Awestruck, really. I've always loved Crumb's art and work, at first (when I was young) because he seemed so twisted and funny, but later, because I realized what a truly fine artist he is. I say, never mind the "is it passionate" crap.

In March of '09, some online articles were calling this upcoming work "subversive"... Not so. There's no intent to be comical here...or to insult Judeo-Christian theology. It seems, in every sense, to be a legitimate illustration of the Book of Genesis. And, I found it beautiful, because Crumb's attention to visual detail is beautiful.

Crumb relies on two sources for the translation including the King James version, and more so, Robert Alter's "The Five Books Of Moses". So, sure, there may be some disagreement in translation for individuals who are version specific. I would suggest we look past that and just enjoy the book for its merits and Crumb's talent.

One should be aware that a few panels may be considered "steamy" for younger children. Some nudity appears and, for instance, when in Chapter 19 it is written that Lot's daughters gave their father wine to drink and then lay with him, Crumb illustrates it. It is my belief, however, that Crumb's intent here is simply illustration, not subversion.

At any rate, it is an amazing work of art, not to mention a book of many important stories.
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81 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cartoonist's Sistene Chapel, October 19, 2009
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This review is from: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (Hardcover)
When R. Crumb set out to create an illustrated Genesis, he planned two years for the project.

Five years later we have what amounts to a cartoonist's answer to the Sistene Chapel, audicious and bold I guess in the same way that great art always seems to be audacious and bold.

For those who would suggest that the work satirzes its material or attempts to demean the underlying Biblical text I would suggest they re-read their Genesis. Where the Bible says Judah had relations with his daughter Tamar thinking her a cultic prostitute, the illustrations show Judah having relations with Tamar thinking her a cultic prostitute. Where the Bible says Lot while drunk had relations with each of his daughters in a cave, the illustrations show Lot while drunk having relations with each of his daughters in cave.

In this way, and with all due respect, those offended by Crumb illustrations should probably in fact be offended by the text as well.

If this material was noteworthy only for its prurient value, it would be easy to dismiss but the work is filled with nuance and mood reflecting the nuance and mood of the underlying text. For example, the anxious confabulation of Adam and Eve when confronted by God for eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is readily revealed in their faces (including a glance of reproof by Eve at having been blamed by Adam). Later we see Abraham in sorrow as he contemplates the problems of his people, dimly depicted as the hallow faced of the Holocaust we have become so familiar with.

In all this work ably succeeds in doing what it set out to do: to provide an illustrated version of Genesis. That it was produced by an atheist does not rob it of any of its artistic potential nor does it prevent us from appreciating it on whatever level we may choose to do so.
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59 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Funny, October 1, 2009
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This review is from: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (Hardcover)
To those of us who have been Crumb fans from the beginning, the first reactions must be: it's not funny; it's not revolutionary; it's not "Mr Natural Meets God". So what is it? It is exactly what the title proclaims, Genesis straightforward in text and illustration, without criticism or commentary, more a scholarly work than a comic book. Perhaps, in 2009, straightforward is radical, as parodies of religion have become the norm. That is the genius of the work. Of course, it is all Crumb with his attention to detail and direct depictions of violence and sex. And most happily for me, the Crumb Women are present in abundance. I am struck by the magnitude and thoroughness of the work, including imagings of the lists of Begats with each character distinct and notable. What is radical about the work is contained within the text itself. Crumb's work is more an illumination of the Word of God than a set of illustrations. Now that is radical.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Genesis, Illustrated by R. Crumb- a loving tribute, November 14, 2009
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This review is from: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (Hardcover)
As soon as I received my copy of Crumb's masterpiece, four years in the making, I knew I would want to review his creation, taking the opportunity to share my appreciation for the strange, insightful man who visualized this important story and breathed life into it, like Yahweh did to the mud-man.
It is important to be clear that this is not a "comic book" version of Genesis for kids, paraphrasing and simplifying the story, leaving out the disturbing parts. Nor is it an irreverent, witty satire a la Monty Python. No, as Crumb says in the introduction, his basic approach was that of an illustrator, not of a redactor, or paraphraser. He takes the story as given to him. But the illustrator picks and chooses what to draw, which images the writings bring to his or her mind, and how to render the material. As near as I can tell, an essentially complete English text of Genesis is here, and it is the source of all written material, except for Crumb's footnotes which he adds to explain the Hebrew original.

It should be pointed out early in this review that illustrating Genesis certainly gives R. Crumb a chance to draw voluptuous, high-breasted women with big fine legs and bubble butts. Well, I'm sure he had some fun with this aspect, and the project certainly gave him a chance to indulge it. Because there is plenty of sex in Genesis; Crumb illustrates the text, never inventing any gratuitous lust. It certainly reminded me how much Genesis is concerned with procreation, marriage, and whose children were whose. Up until after the Flood, Yahweh's only command is 'Be fruitful and multiply.' So Crumb's proclivities were appropriate to this project, and faithful to the text. There is nothing 'dirty' in any thing he draws in this book. Also, I rather think that Crumb's rendering of the women of the time was rather close to what people of the day would have thought fine-looking, robust, healthy women should look like.

And it is so obvious that Crumb loves these women. The book is dedicated to his wife Aline, and whatever Crumb's conscious intent, I believe that in part it was because he truly loves Aline and her body type, and her Jewishness. Crumb's earlier work shows a fascination with Jews, a mixture of bewilderment, admiration and respect. He also understands anti-Antisemitism. I feel that illustrating Genesis was a tribute to Aline and her heritage (which seems to interest him more than it does her), and Crumb's tribute to the heritage left to us by the Patriarchs and Matriarchs that has affected all of us so profoundly, believers or not.

But he creates individuals, not stereotypes. Eve, Sarah, Hagar (not all the women are buxom beauties), Lot's daughters... Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, and their handmaidens Zilpah and Bilhah, who before seeing Crumb's drawings were just names to me- all these marvelous, interesting, and very human women are portrayed as strong, clever , and capable of deceit to achieve their ends. The expression of Rachel's face when she lies to her father, excusing herself from rising because of her period, while concealing the household idols she had stolen from him, is priceless, Crumb at his best.

As an appendix Crumb includes his own midrash, a commentary which is both scholarly (but not ponderous) and revealing, at least somewhat, about the illustrator's motives and options. His comments on chapter 12 refer to the work of Savina Teubel, and he suggests that some of what we read in Genesis are remnants of the struggle between patriarchy and matriarchy. This is certainly a question worthy of further exploration. R. Crumb did not take this project lightly, and he did some scholarly homework and, dare we say, spiritual work in preparation for this project.

Crumb's illustrated book is entertaining and fun, and as an interesting coffee table art book, it is a good buy; there's a lot of good drawing for the money. But we can ask: what does it offer, if anything, to the believer who wants to understand Genesis better? Well, as I have said, the illustrations helped me visualize situations that had been incomprehensible to me. I'm not saying that Crumb always got it right, but his vision is certainly a possible one. Crumb's illustrated Book of Genesis could be useful for an adult Bible study, or a program like Education for Ministry. Some people no doubt will feel that his drawing of the patriarchs and matriarchs making love, or being less than admirable, is disrespectful. Well, blame the author of Genesis, not Crumb. A serious study of Genesis and its dysfunctional if not murderous families should make us reflect on what we really mean by "Biblical Family Values".

I also believe that Crumb portrays spiritual struggle very well, and reveals the flawed patriarchs as men of deep faith who responded to God's call. He portrays the women as strong individuals (if not quite matriarchs) with their own desires and agendas. In spite of their weaknesses and flaws, there is a lot of love in Genesis- love of God, wife, sons, family, brothers, friends- and Crumb's illustrations picture it well. I feel too that lots of his own love, especially for Aline and her heritage, spills onto the page- not gushing sentimental treacle, but the passions of our spiritual fathers and mothers.

I hope Crumb illustrates Exodus, and I would like to see him do the Gospel of Matthew and the Book of Revelation; but I can imagine that such projects are so draining we may not see much from him for awhile. Thanx, Robert. Bless you. Keep on truckin' .
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Fritz the Cat or Mr Natural, October 14, 2009
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Louis I. Jaffe (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (Hardcover)
Couldn't resist buying this as soon as it came out, then read through it in a weekend. Crumb is a genius. Yes he takes some liberties visually while including every word of the text. All the Biblical women, Eve, Rachel, etc, become R. Crumb women, and some incidents are luridly violent or sexual. End result: the Good Book comes vibrantly alive. Amazing, among other things, how he depicts as a distinct character every man and woman in the begats.
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43 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Athiest's Perspective, October 15, 2009
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This review is from: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (Hardcover)
Not what I was expecting, but still satisfied. I didn't read The Book of Origins to learn about god, Adam, Eve, Noah, Jacob, Abel or Cain. Nope, the church's attempt to indoctrinate occurred years ago.... I survived.

I read Crumb's version of Origins because I had never read the entire unadulterated book from beginning to end. My prior exposure was to the sugar coated variety interjected with each religion's own interpretation. I figured that if I was going to read Origins, I might as well read a translation complete with pictures. Sans graphics, it could prove quite a laborious task.

I'm happy to report that I finished Crumb's book in three days, in no small part due to the graphics.

I had expected a more cynical depiction of our creation, the origin of man (and woman to a lesser extent). But in retrospect, how much more insanity could Crumb have added to The Book of Genesis? Rather than go the comedic route, Crumb takes the straight man approach. Anything else would have eroded his intent.

Thank you Mr. Crumb.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Both Creation Stories, October 21, 2009
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Sari (Calumet Park, IL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (Hardcover)
I started reading this last night and cannot put it down. The art is Crumb-ish with buxom Bible babes and mighty patriarchs.
Genesis is a faithful re-telling with all the begets left in and has something to offend Bible literalists who see their Old Testament figures as wart-less and fully clothed--Adam and Eve being gleefully naked before the fall. An important re-telling but also readable, human, and accessible.
(I was especially struck by the venality of Abraham as he passes off his wife Sarah to two rulers as his sister but collects the loot when God wrathfully intervenes on Abraham's behalf to go medieval on the duped and confused kings.)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The legendary R. Crumb plays it straight with Genesis, March 23, 2011
This review is from: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (Hardcover)
Of all the contemporary artists who might take on the daunting task of illustrating the entire Book of Genesis, could any seem more unlikely than Robert Crumb?

A leader of the underground comix movement in the 1960s and 1970s, Crumb is the creator of such countercultural icons as Fritz the Cat, Devil Girl, Mr. Natural and innumerable, shall we say, libidinous women.

Admired by countless fans as a gifted artist with a unique, instantly recognizable, style, Crumb is controversial as well, and has been accused of sexism and racism over the years. Let's just say that, as a rule, his work is not likely to be found in very many school libraries. Nor should it.

Yet Crumb has now produced "The Book of Genesis Illustrated," a monumental undertaking that took him several years to complete. It covers all 50 chapters and literally everything to be found in them - the creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the numbingly endless "begats," Noah and the flood, the Tower of Babel, the fall and rise of Joseph. You name it. It's all here.

Being Crumb, the artist doesn't shy away from the naughty bits. That's why the book comes with two warnings on the cover, one recommending "adult supervision" for minors and the other reminding readers that there is "nothing left out."

This may be a comic book of sorts, but it's no sanitized abridgement.

"I didn't want to edit it at all. I wanted every word in there," Crumb said in an interview with National Public Radio last year. "That was part of the discipline of it was to keep every word, because if you start leaving stuff out, then you're playing God."

Crumb, skilled artist that he is, certainly is up to the task of illustrating most anything, including the Book of Genesis. What gave me pause when I started reading the book was not whether he did the job well - he did - but whether readers familiar with his more salacious work will readily accept this transition from the profane to the holy.

For his part, Crumb does not view Genesis as the word of God, but rather as a fascinating collection of wonderful stories - "the words of men," as he puts it in the introduction - that deserve to be told in comic-book form.

"I decided just to do a straight illustration job," Crumb said in the 2009 NPR interview, "because the stories themselves are so strange that it doesn't need satirizing. It doesn't need, you know, making fun of or taking off on or anything. It just stands up on its own as a lurid, you know, comic book."

For example, God, as drawn by Crumb, looks just like what you would expect - robed, patriarchal, angry, with flowing white hair and a long white beard. In fact, everyone in the book looks suitably "biblical." True to his word, Crumb takes no liberties, cracks no jokes and shows no disrespect.

What I found is that "The Book of Genesis Illustrated," while surreal in the early going because I was preoccupied with the juxtaposition of Crumb's notoriety and Genesis, grew on me in the chapters that followed.

By the time Abraham comes along, for example, I was so caught up in the story, and sufficiently impressed with Crumb's skill, that his background as a self-described pornographer receded from my thoughts.

By then, the experience of reading Crumb's take on Genesis was no longer awkward, but entirely enjoyable. Whether you view Genesis as divinely or humanly inspired, Crumb brings it to glorious life in "The Book of Genesis Illustrated."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Theologian's Review., February 25, 2010
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Miguel G. (Bucaramanga, Colombia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (Hardcover)
As a theologian who has studied the Bible at great length (sans the snazzy illustrations), I was really curious to see this book when it came out. In one word -- stunning! Crumb has not watered down or distorted the Scriptures; nor has he left out any of the juicy or violent bits. I will be proud to display this on my bookshelf next to my Bible and other theological works. Thanks Mr. Crumb!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gorgeous Take on a Famous Original, November 20, 2009
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This review is from: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (Hardcover)
On the cover of the newest edition of the book of Genesis, there is a warning: "Adult supervision recommended for minors." It is an appropriate warning, but it is also as close to a joke as R. Crumb comes in the whole work. _The Book of Genesis Illustrated_ (Norton) is not Zap Comix, it is not Fritz the Cat, it is not "Keep On Truckin'". What it is is a retelling of all the chapters in Genesis, with enormous seriousness. It is not facetious to compare Crumb's illustrations with the work of Bible illustrators like William Blake or Gustave Doré. These drawings are beautiful. Fans of Crumb's work will immediately recognize his style of hatching and stippling, and the meaty, heavy-legged look of his figures. The black-and-white pictures, laid out in comic-book form on 200 large pages, are simply gorgeous, as expressive as paper and ink can ever be.

Crumb has taken around four years to bring out the book. That he might illustrate such faith-laden material struck many as outrageous. In his introduction, he writes, "If my visual, literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis offends or outrages some readers, which seems inevitable considering that the text is revered by many people, all I can say in my defense is that I approached this as a straight illustration job, with no intention to ridicule or make visual jokes." He has been astonishingly successful. There are objections that Crumb as unbeliever should not touch this text, but perhaps what the faithful ought to be objecting to is that Crumb has not exscinded any parts of the book; if a couple "know" each other, that picture is going to get its panel just as surely as will Jacob seeing the ramp of angels going up and down. Those who like their Bibles unillustrated might have a point; it is one thing to verbally describe something distasteful or distressing, but such a thing may be even more so if it is depicted. It is especially upsetting to see men, women, children, and animals trying to save themselves from the Noachian deluge, which, if it happened, was far more severe than any of the extinctions scientists tell us really did happen in past eras. Every illustrated Bible has a picture of the ark, and animals two by two; Crumb's does, too, but his is the only one that also shows a little of the multi-species lethality of the flood. Crumb's drawings can only emphasize the peculiar, vengeful, and primitive tribal behavior of these people, whose environment and social culture might have analogies with our own, but only by the greatest of stretches. Crumb has always been competent at drawing outsiders and cranks, and here does so just because the text demands it; the drawings show the differences from our world more strikingly than mere words do.

Crumb has taken the labor of illustration seriously. He has attempted to show realistic geographic and urban settings of the time, and he has had consultant friends to help him, including one who told him that in his original drawings the clothing looked like bathrobes and the tents looked like something you'd get at your local outdoor camping store. He redrew. The pictures, while obviously in his own style, are realistic and (what is most important in any illustrated text) they emphasize and help us understand the words of the story. It isn't Crumb's fault the story includes sex and violence and brutishly primitive or superstitious behavior. His book is an ambitious and surprising artistic endeavor, and anyone interested in the famous original ought to enjoy this new way to look at it. Including minors.
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The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb
The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb by R. Crumb (Hardcover - October 19, 2009)
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