Throughout the book, Crumb seemed to put an extreme emphasis on the unforgiving nature of God and the almost childlike revenge seeking if something doesn’t go the way He wants it to. In Alter’s interpretation, the words were just that, words. They did not have any underlying emotions attached to them. He tells us what God does and that’s all we get. When Crumb takes his own interpretation of Alter’s work, there is so much more under the image of God. To be frank, I think Crumb does a very good job at showing God as a daemon from Hell.
From the beginning, mostly all the images of God are shown to have an angry face or a face that brings about fear from those who gaze into it. Images of God drawn by Crumb, especially towards the end of Chapter 18, all show God with wrinkles on his brow and a frown on his lips and anger in his eyes. When Crumb was reading Alter’s translation of the Genesis, he seemed to have a negative film over how he interpreted the meaning of the words. Due to this negative interpretation of the words to himself, he drew the image of God as being this cruel unforgiving man with no heart. Even if all His actions were justified in one way or another, the way in which Crumb bolds certain words and the deep anger and unpleasant features given to God’s face makes the readers to perceive the meaning otherwise.
Another very important interpretation in Crumb’s portrayal of God as a daemon from Hell is from Chapter 19. Alter’s simple words of fire and brimstone were given a very extensive meaning with the type of images Crumb portrays those words with. Alter’s version of Genesis has the phrase, “And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord from the heavens” (Alter 88). If we take the last part of the phrase, “from the Lord from the heavens”, the direct meaning of this phrase, in one sense, could mean that the fire was sent from God who lives in heaven. But Crumb decides to take this phrase and adds a few words into it that changes the meaning of it slightly from the direct meaning we described above. Crumb makes the last part of the phrase to read as “from the Lord from out of the heavens”. By adding the words ‘out of’, Crumb just made the words into a definite interpretation of the fire and destruction coming from heaven itself. As if stressing the cruelty of it all, Crumb draws a different frame for each of the last parts. “from the Lord” phrase is dedicated with showing a huge crowd of people clustered together having flames falling on them. If one can see it another way, it could almost resemble the holocaust killings. The part “from out of the heavens” probably has the most important picture dedicated to it that shows clearly why I think Crumb is trying to show God as the daemon from Hell. The flames falling, the dark outlines of people on fire, with fire everywhere just gives off the feeling of what one might picture Hell to look like. Also the fact that Crumb changed the words from “from the heavens” to “from out of the heavens” shows the fact that he is emphasizing the connection of fire and heaven. Since fire is usually correlated with Hell, we are given an image of him trying to show us that he believes Heaven to be Hell at this point.
This is just one of the strongest instances of many in which Crumb show his negative interpretation of Alter’s text on behalf of God.
1. Alter, Robert. Genesis: Translation and Commentary. New York: Norton, 1997. Print.
2. "THE BOOK OF GENESIS, ILLUSTRATED BY R. CRUMB." Last Gasp Books. Web. 22 Oct. 2011.