Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb

The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb

Genesis is the source for many illustrated books. Noah's Ark is probably the most popular story in toddler books. Other stories are less kid friendly (like Noah's drunken nakedness) and even less graphic friendly (like the genealogies). This book depicts the entire fifty chapters and aims at a mature audience. It's a big ambition with mixed results.

Crumb does a great job communicating the emotional impact in the stories through the expressions on people's faces. The settings have a fine Middle Eastern appearance that adds to the stories. Even so, I find his style not to my taste. The women have unattractive faces, even though Sarah and Rachel are supposed to be quite beautiful. Also, a lot of women are topless or unclothed (much of it gratuitous) with only occasional male nudity. His commentary at the end of the book makes him sound sympathetic to feminism but his art does not look sympathetic. The combination is odd. He does give rich detail to many of his panels and it's amazing to see dozens of different faces in the genealogies.

This book is worth reading once but I'm sure I'll not come back to it.

1 comment:

  1. I've not read anything else by Crumb except for this one, but from what I hear of his earlier work, this one is quite tame on the gratuity. Like you, I'm unlikely to pick it up again. I found it quite dull. Noah's sons as the Three Stooges was an odd, but interesting choice though.