After watching the movie Crumb, it becomes apparent to anyone that Robert Crumb is slightly mentally disturbed and has many odd likes. Of all the books he could have illustrated, Crumb chose ‘The book of Genesis’ from the Bible. If one doesn’t know the content of the book, they might come into the false assumptions that he was doing a very noble thing by trying to elucidate the contents of the “sacred” book of the Bible by illustrating them for the readers’ easiness. For those who do know the contents, it becomes apparent quite clearly why he chose the book and how it reflects his personality and house life.
Crumb is a very sexually oriented guy. The explicit drawings of naked women and the clear explicit drawings of intercourse in Genesis reflects on Crumb’s personality of being a pervert. He likes to think of woman as a piece of toy or property only used to exploit as shown in his earlier works. Other than the drawings showing his pervert nature in the book, the actual story of the book also seems to relate and pull Crumb into it.
There are two main themes that relate very closely to Crumb’s life; the figure of God and the repeated conflicts between brothers. Two main focuses on brother-brother conflicts are the Cain and Able dispute; and the Esau and Jacob dispute. In Cain and Able, the younger brother Able gets favored by the Lord more than Cain which leads to Cain hating and eventually murdering his brother. In the Esau and Jacob dispute, Jacob, the younger of the two, steals all glory from Esau by taking his birthright and stealing their father’s blessing for Esau to himself. In both stories, there is a motto of younger brother being better than the older. Even in Crumb’s life, Crumb has an older brother who is much less accomplished than Crumb. This connection of younger brothers being more accomplished, smarter and ending up much better than the older brothers connects with Crumb to a very high degree.
The second point of the figure of God also affords a great deal of connection to Crumb’s life. The God depicted in the whole of Genesis is shown as an over controlling, heartless, and very strict overseeing image. Crumb illustrates almost all the pictures of God as Him having an angry or displeasured face. Also the fact that the God depicted is shown merciless and destroys everything that he doesn’t like or that he feels is wrong must have pulled at Crumb’s heartstrings a lot. Gaining from the movie, it was hinted and in some cases explicitly stated that Crumb’s father used to be very harsh and cruel to him and his siblings and even led to most of the destruction of his elder brother’s morale. One could also argue that Crumb’s quirky weirdness could also have descended from his father.
Genesis seemed to have a lot of similar mottos and events that transpired in Crumb’s life such as the brother-brother conflict and the God having a similar personality to his father. So it comes as no surprise that Crumb was drawn and felt inclined and comfortable doing a piece of work that he could relate with and vice versa, by seeing his interpretation of the words into pictures that have emotions that can be decoded, we ourselves can understand how his personal life was and why he drew certain things the way he did.