Thursday, April 8, 2010

God: The Graphic "Novel"

Stories have their purposes. We tell ourselves (and others) stories about our world in an effort to make sense of it.

Call me strange, but I like scripture, whether it's from a Middle-Eastern monotheistic religion (Think about the Trinity - is that monotheistic? Seems like three is more than one. But I digress...), or from other parts of the world.

All cultures seem to have their creation stories, and many here in western civilization believe (or have accepted?) the story put forth in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Of course, the fossil record shows that our planet is far older than Genesis suggests.

The Book of Genesis, illustrated by R. Crumb, includes all fifty chapters. The creation story, Noah and the ark, and the story of Joseph and his brothers, are just some of the tales illustrated.

Knowing the stories in Genesis is not necessary. But one may (Maybe not!) understand western civilization's strange history better by getting to know its foundations, and R. Crumb's glorious illustrated Genesis is a fun way to try.

A reviewer in Booklist wrote, "Crumb's vivid visual characterizations of the myriad characters, pious and wicked, make the most striking impression. His distinctive, highly rendered drawing style imparts a physicality that few other illustrated versions of this often retold chronicle have possessed."

Oh, and God is one of the myriad characters. Yow! What a character!
Just so we'll recognize Him, Crumb draws Him with a LONG flowing white beard. Dude probably hangs out in the clouds or something...

I guess I started reading Crumb's underground comics around forty years ago. For what it's worth, I'll read every book in the Bible if R. Crumb does the illustrations.


MarkLWilliams said...

This was one of my favorite books last year! Maybe my favorite!

I use it in the 4th grade Sunday school class I teach (!) at a local synagogue... Okay, I have to be judicious (Jewdicious? Hey, I'm allowed! ;-) about *which* sequences I use in class, but it's an absolutely great version of a text there's still far too much "disputin'" over!

gonovice said...

Besides loving Crumb's illustrations, I found particularly interesting the word usually translated as "myrrh." This version uses the word "ladanum." Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary says, "What was meant by this word is uncertain... It is probably correctly rendered by the Latin word ladanum, the Arabic ladan, an aromatic juice of a shrub called the Cistus or rock rose, which has the same qualities, though in a slight degree, of opium, whence a decoction of opium is called laudanum."