Monday, October 20, 2014

Crumb's Idea of the Model Woman

While reading Crumb’s, The Book of Genesis, it is hard to miss his interpretations of how people looked and in particular how women looked.  He was very detail orientated when drawing women and was able to portray them in many different ways, but in particular he seemed to make a point of showing their sexuality.  Even when the women were being shown as angry, devious, or unpleasant, he still made a point to show the exaggerated curves of their features.  In many cases they had a very sensual body, while there face was very manly looking. 
            In the beginning of the book, when Eve was created from Adam, she was shown to be equal if not a little greater in size than the man.  This was done by Crumb to show the importance he placed on women during this time and how they played a large role throughout the book.  Also, Crumb portrayed the first woman like this because it was how he thought the perfect woman should be, and how he thought God wanted women to look. His first picture of Eve showed how she was a large voluptuous woman with many appealing attributes, and her face was drawn with soft features not seen with all women throughout the book.  
Furthermore, she could have been drawn this way to show how appealing the first woman was but she could have also been portrayed this way because of the female figure that Crumb was attracted to.  He liked full figured women with these attributes and could have chose to show his own interpretation of how he thought God made the ideal woman/helped for man, and the wide hips could have been chosen to show her ability or readiness to bear children.  In his mind this is how women should look, so he made an interpretation of the book to go along with his picture of the ideal woman, which he continues with throughout the book.
Crumb’s idea of the ideal women goes along with The Book of Genesis during chapter 29, when Jacob is more attracted to Rachel, who was said to have “comely” features instead of her sister Leah, who had the “tender” eyes.  Although both women were illustrated by Crumb as full figured, voluptuous women, this part of Genesis shows how men back then may have been more attracted to the features that Crumb was more favorable of in his own life.  This could have helped Crumb lead to his interpretation of women the way he did.
All throughout the book there are many times were women are fully clothed, yet Crumb still decided to show there prominent nipples almost poking out of there clothing.  He may have done this to show that women were lustful beings, or he could have simply done so because this is the type of women he was most interested in. When women are naked he makes a point to try and draw the readers attention to their breast and nipples.  This is not what most people would think about when they read Genesis, but Crumb chose to show them this way based of either his own personal taste or it could have been from research Crumb did on the time period.
  There is not an example of overweight or very skinny women in the book.  Crumb chose to make them all as the sexual, voluptuous type that he felt most interested in.  Even during chapter 29 of the book when Jacob is having children left and right, Crumb chose not to show any of the women as pregnant.  As soon as the baby was shown being born, the women are back to their voluptuous figure.  He did not want to portray them in any other manner that what was attractive to him, except for changing their facial figures on various occasions.
Many of the women in the book have the same body shape and size, but Crumb made a point to show their faces in different ways depending on the situation the women was in. During the last part of chapter 25, Rebekah is shown lying with Isaac, and she has soft, feminine facial features. This was meant to exemplify the beauty of Rebekah, because only something that beautiful could help Isaac find comfort after the death of his mother. Later, in chapter 27 Rebekah is shown at one point with a very masculine face when she is telling her son Jacob to steal the blessing from his elder brother Esau.  This different representation of Rebekah’s face was used to show how she transformed into a different person after everything she went through with Isaac and how she was capable of being deceitful.
In conclusion, Crumb was able to portray women in many different ways throughout the book, but one body type remained fairly constant throughout.  His interpretation of women was based off his personal tastes in the female figure.


  1. You mentioned some good points about Crumb's preference on women. I liked when you brought up “comely” features instead of her sister Leah, who had the “tender” eyes. Adding to this would make a better argument instead of going back to Crumb's preferences. The section about Crumb not showing pregnancy was a little weak. I skimmed through the book and found Rebekah and Sarai with large stomachs and showing pregnancy. Although there are alot of pregnancies in the book, maybe talk about why he chose to show these instead of the others.

  2. This reads basically as a set of observations. I think the observations could be relevant to an argument, and I agree that they are fundamentally correct observations (Crumb primarily draws women he would be attracted to; he is attracted to a particular body type; also, he is interested in powerful female bodies). But what do these observations accomplish? To put it another way: is he just randomly doing what he likes (in which case there probably isn't much to say about it) or is he *using* his vision of the ideal human form to accomplish some purpose?

    One hint, if you choose to revise: read his endnotes and think about whether they relate to his drawing style. Another hint: consider reading some of his earlier work (keeping in mind that much of it is quite offensive).