RBL Review of Robert Crumb’s Genesis Illustrated

David Peterson from Emory has reviewed Robert Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated. I looked through this book a few months back and wasn’t too impressed with it. I’m glad the review took it seriously and also noticed a lot of the issues I did. Primarily, the artist doesn’t communicate a lot of the nuance to the stories and the characters. From the review:

Still, there is a certain sameness, a leveling. Crumb has clearly attempted to offer a vaguely Semitic profile to the cast of characters. One might have hoped for fewer beards and ragged hair on the men and a greater variety in the formal presentation of major female characters. Crumb captures well angry and upset people (e.g., Cain, Lamech, Esau, Dinah’s brothers); less strident characters do not receive their due. God, when angry, looks a bit like an angry Charlton Heston (so Gen 20). When the emotional purport of the story is different, that is, with a level of pathos (Gen 18) or angst (Gen 20), the portraiture does not capture the subtlety. In addition, one might have hoped for a lighter touch in certain stories. Genesis 24 breathes different air than those narratives that surround it. Crumb’s visual depiction does not convey that distinction. (It may be that the cartoon idiom presents limitations at this point.)

The characters are all equally crudely drawn and equally barbaric-looking. The reviewer opines that it may just be the limits of the medium, but it’s not. It’s the artist’s skill.


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