In reading The Book of Genesis, I was intrigued by how Crumb portrays women. Every female is presented as extremely voluptuous and most seem to have more mass than their male significant others. They are often taller or equal in height to the men with which they are pictured. Overly large lips, exaggerated eyebrows, and gap teeth compose their faces. As these exaggerated characteristics imply, the women that Crumb draws in The Book of Genesis are almost grotesque by today's standards of beauty. One explanation for why he sketches them in this fashion is that these curvaceous figures are simply how he chooses to portray women from Biblical times. However, I would be interested in discussing if whether this depiction actually stems from how Crumb really perceives women or how he feels about them.
I found Genesis to be a little disturbing. It included rape, murder, incest and drunkenness. These are all detrimental actions and ones I’ve never associated with the Bible. I do think, however, it humanizes the Bible. Crumb drew his characters with legitimate features and made them look like real people in the real world doing real things. This is much different from the way people usually learn the stories of the Bible in Sunday school, where we see color and cartoon-like figures. I think this relates to Crumb’s idea of the Bible being “the words of men” versus “the word of God.” This is where the reality of the stories comes in. In chapter 19, there are graphic images of the Lord raining fire upon the cities of the plain. Dead bodies, burning bodies, people with horrified faces, and terror are all seen. The final image shows a whole city burning. It quotes, “He annihilated all those cities and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew in the soil.” We normally don’t associate evil acts with God, but the images in this scene show the realistic side of the biblical story.
While reading Genesis, I was interested mostly by how Crumb drew his characters. Often times it was difficult to distinguish between the male and female characters (based on facial features). I found this to be kind of disturbing because I was not used to seeing people drawn in such a homely way. After looking up some of his other comics, I noticed that not all of this pieces were drawn in the same style. Some of his work is much more realistic while other pieces seem to look more like cartoons. Does the style of his drawing in The Book of Genesis have a meaning we can apply to Genesis itself? In other words, does the realistic style of drawing and the rather ugly portrayal of his characters reflect how he views Genesis? Also, another thing I noticed when reading the Book of Genesis is that some of the font differs throughout. I could not find a pattern in the different font uses and I was wondering if anyone else could find a reason behind it.
One thing I noticed about Crumb's illustration of Genesis is how he depicted divine beings. Yes, God is still the stereotypical old guy with robe and long, flowing beard, but the other creatures stray from popular depictions. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Angels we know of (pretty people in robes, one set of wings, halos, and harps) don't actually appear in the Bible. At least are never described. So when crumb illustrates the divine beings that are mentioned, he does so in a different way. First there are the cherubim, which he shows as hound like creatures with bat wings. I've only seen those depicted as either stereotypical angels or, if you're getting particularly crazy, a type of angel with four wings and four heads (man, lion, ox, and eagle). Then, at the start of chapter 6, the divine beings come down to earth to rape all the women. These are probably closest to our stereotypical angels, but they still lack wings, robe , and halo. They are depicted as tall, blond haired men with narrower eyes and ornamented clothing. And then there is the Lord's Messenger. Usually you see a group of angels with trumpets hailing one with a scroll or something similar, but in Crumb's depiction, you just see a man. He looks different than God, shorter hair and beard and wearing a hat, but he appears as a large, floating dude in the sky.
I thought it was interesting to see a transition throughout this section of the book in the way God appears to humans. In the beginning, he walks alongside Adam and Eve. He interacts with them in a more human-like way. The same is true when he comes to Noah to tell him his prophecy of destroying man and commands him to build the ark. Later on, however, God takes on a much more divine form. When he appears to speak to Abram, for example, he is usually depicted as a head surrounded by a mane of hair and a bright glowing light. While he occasionally walks on earth, he is almost always in the sky, looking down upon the human he talks to. Crumb's illustrations are being used in this way to maybe distance God from humanity, and show that he is unlike them and powers over them rather than walks among them. While the display of God's power is an important theme throughout, I wonder why there was this transition, and why God was not depicted in this way from the beginning.
While reading Genesis it was remarkable how Crumb was able to change how I viewed the book of genesis that I read at a young age from the bible. It is word for word the same text, yet with realistic images associated with it, it shows how harsh and dark the text really is. From the first 25 chapters it is truly apparent that Crumb wants to get across that God found his true power from instilling fear into his prophets. Most of the book was illustrated, as Crumb explained in his introduction as a literal translation. However, the one thing that seemed most unrealistic was how every woman, no matter what age was very curvy and in shape. All had big breasts and thigh thighs, even Sarah at 90 had the body of a 25 year old. I'm not sure what it adds to the comic. It seems as if it just speaks to the mind of Crumb which, according to several in the movie Crumb, is pretty much always fixated on sex and has a particular taste for women. Overall, it was just very surprising that I did not notice how harsh and dark and even evil God was at times in the book of genesis, Crumb using his realistic art and subtle emotions very much painted it in a much more realistic fashion.
In Crumb's Genesis, I found it very interesting how Crumb chose to portray people in the illustrations. He seemed to show everything in a very satirical light where the characters were slightly warped. Most characters had very wide or slack mouths or everything was disproportionate, especially early with the images of Adam and Eve. They had a certain look to them that seemed like Crumb wanted them to look unintelligent, which I suppose makes sense as God is there and has to watch over them and prevent them from making bad decisions. I wonder if Crumb's illustrating choices are a comment of how he views people of faith and maybe this is his way criticizing them.
While reading The Book of Genesis, I thought it was interesting how Crumb used different shades of hair for differentiating between good and evil characters. For instance, in chapter 4 Cain is drawn with a very thick, dark beard and his brother Abel is drawn without facial hair. Soon after we see Cain murdering his brother Abel in the field, and lying to God about it. Also, Noah is drawn with a full bear but his bear is not shaded in nearly as much as the evil or immoral characters. Even God himself is shown with a light beard down to his legs. In chapter 19 the men of Sodom are shown with full, dark shaded beards while the men who saved the two men, the lord sent to inspect Sodom, had long lightly shaded beards. I think this is a simple example of how he used shading to show the differences right away between the two types of character in The Book of Genesis.
While reading the book of Genesis illustrated by Crumb, I found it interesting how detailed the images tended to be. Rather than just depicting the main events of the scene, the entire locale is shown. This is seen throughout the whole book, but one example is towards the beginning of chapter 6, when God grows angry with the human race. The caption of one image states: “And the Lord saw that the wickedness of the human creature was great on the Earth, and that every scheme of his hearts devising was only perpetually evil.” The image shows men and women beating naked people as God looks down. However, in the background people are shown watching and there are windows where trees are seen. All of the characters have detailed outfits with jewelry, etc. included. Rather than just showing the cruelness of people, Crumb chose to show all the details of a real life scene. This is true of many of the images throughout the book.
While reading the illustrated version of Genesis, I began to question religion even more than I did in the first place. The God that everybody looks up to for guidance seems to be this kinda creepy old guy that just orders people around for the hell of it. It also seems that he gets fed up and bored rather easily. I got the impression that he goes and kills the world with water just because the people he created were being annoying and he just didn't feel like teaching them how they should behave in the first place. God also tries to make Abraham sacrifice his only son for him just to see if he'd do it. If people believe and follow what the Bible says, why do they consider things like this okay? In all honesty, the book of Genesis seems to be an over exaggerated tale of something that may have (probably not) happened and it's not even a very interesting tale either. So why do people believe this? The God depicted in this story is a lazy creator that would rather kill than educate its civilians. I don't know about you but I would rather not have somebody like that determining the outcome of the universe.
Crumb separates Genesis into small sections to match pictures. At the end of Chapter 5, the pairing of the image with the words becomes confusing. The words above the image were almost the exact same as the words on the side of the image. I wasn’t sure if this was how Genesis is written, or if Crumb wanted to set it up this way to show how he views the book. The end of chapter 11 has a similar setup, but doesn’t have text on the side of the image. It is also interesting that Crumb puts a border around every other section of text. Visually it made the words with the border more important. Also, this stops the reader from going on to the next image. The border makes the eyes go down to the image before going on to the next text. I am curious why Crumb didn’t put a border around all the text individually. Most of Crumb’s pictures are not how I viewed the book. One example is giving the serpent human qualities. The gestures and body language mimics that of eve. Giving the serpent human qualities sets up the next section when God cursed him to be on his belly.
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud is a comic about comics. In the first chapter, he explains the challenge in defining comics, as well as some basic history. The second chapter was about the perception of symbols versus how they are depicted. I found it interesting when he showed a bunch of objects like an electrical outlet and car and how we see faces in them. Although this was not really anything new, it was interesting to hear about why we see inanimate objects this way. Although I am not sure if we view everything in a human like form, there does seem to be a decent amount of relations of how objects are formed or interact with each other that does relate to the human form. For example, connectors are not only classified by their type, but they also have a gender.
There is a lot to say about Crumb's Book of Genesis, including his depictions of the events that occur in this book. However growing up with learning about these stories and texts in Hebrew school what stuck out to me most and what is most shocking is Crumb's illustrations of the characters. So after reading the comic I wanted to see what the reviews commented on. I found that there was much controversy over how explicit and disturbing some of the illustrations were. However if you read the original text it is just as graphic, and is a book many religions base their stories off of. So why the controversy? It is the same as what many teach their kids in a less graphic way. But why make the illustrations so graphic if there is the possibility of controversy? Why not make it less realistic or use cartoons?
Coming from an atheist background, Crumb's Genesis was quite an interesting read. I am particular intrigued by how Crumb represent god. Despite autocorrect's numerous effect to capitalize god while I type, I choose to not capitalize god because i do not believe that god exists or ever existed and I think Crumb agrees with me. For example, in chapter one, he depicted god as not much taller or different physically from Adam and Eve except for an overwhelming beard. God is also standing right next to Adam and Eve, speaking to them personally, instead of imparting orders and judgments from above. This is a direct product of Crumb’s own religious beliefs. He was brought up Catholic, thus is familiar with the stories in the Bible. He gave up his religion at age 16 once he realized that Bible teachings quickly fell apart when he question it. Crumb interprets the Book of Genesis as a novel rather than biblical truth, because he depicts god as a person instead of a deified creature, and I couldn’t agree with him more.
I did a little wikipedia-ing on Crumb to try to fully understand where he was trying to come from when retelling this well-known story. He was born to a Catholic family, yet he is known for his satire. I am gathering the sense that he is almost downplaying the importance of these stories. Taking my own personal religious beliefs aside, l feel like he is simply ignoring that these stories are the basis for a movement that has changed lives and caused wars over the centuries. As I mentioned, it makes perfect sense that Crumb is known for satire because that is the tone I'm receiving from his artwork. For example, on page 29, right before the story of Noah takes place, the last frame on the page stuck out to me. The corruption that God wants to wipe out seems to be the rise of different belief systems. The picture shows a strange deity that is almost a warped version of the God Crumb has already illustrated. The scene strikes me as an Aztec or Mayan sacrafice, yet there is still this overpowering deity that is being worshiped - a deity that looks like God. It seems as if he is trying to make fun of the very stories he is retelling.