Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Crumb (Final Draft - Second Revision)

For my final project I want to revisit my revision on Robert Crumb’s Genesis and take a closer look on the implications of his illustration.  What is of concern to me, is furthering the examination on the removal of holiness from Crumb’s reproduction to elucidate the problems this may create for Christian readers.  I want juxtapose Crumb’s rendition of the bible against other forms of visual depictions of Genesis such as Picture Bible by Hoth and Manga Bible by Siku to look at the differences between the depiction of religious iconography as well as its impact.  Particularly, important scenes where Crumb’s interpretation over the source text is stressed heavily will be cross analyzed against different depictions to see how his perceptions of religion create an atmosphere surrounding Genesis.  The form and unabridged nature of Genesis should appeal to a larger and more traditional audience than Crumb’s typical graphic novels, and because of this it serves as an interesting case study.  This comic book made by an underground artist, is supposed to reach a religiously conservative group and I want to explore the impact this has as well as its ultimate reception and connotations concerning religion not as simply the Book of Genesis, but as Crumb’s Genesis. I want to explore how this novel breaks free of a religious mold which is expected such as the normalized iconography and expected patriarchal lineage view of women.

I.                 Bibliography
a.      Borders, Liza A. "R. Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated: Biblical Narrative and the Impact of Illustration." Digital Commons. Liberty University, Spring 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.
                                                    i.     This paper contains an in-depth look on the nature of Crumb’s work from a religious and non-religious standpoint

b.     "Cherub/Cherubim." CARM. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.
                                                    i.     The quintessential version of the Cherub is needed to analyze against Crumb’s depiction as well as other versions of the cherub which show up in other versions of illustrated Genesis.
c.      Hoth, Iva, “The Picture Bible (1978),” The Ohio State University Libraries Exhibits, accessed November 26, 2014,
                                                    i.     Another illustrated version including Genesis which will be used to juxtapose Crumb’s work to show the religious dissonance and derivation from a typical rendition.
d.     Source 4
e.      Source 5
f.      Original Revision Argument:
Crumb creates his version of Genesis in a manner which rejects the orthodox conventions of the bible, to show a more humanistic interpretation of man rather than the subversive Christian archetypes which dominate the audience in the source text.  His visual style rejects the holiness surrounding man, which usually dominates the landscape perceived by the readers and followers of the bible, and produces a more agnostically toned manuscript to show that the human protagonists where nothing more than mortal in their facilities. 

I will change this argument slightly, and expand it to include is effect on Christian readers, as well as examine its impact on religious norms.

II.               Outline

a.      Introduction
                                                    i.     State the argument and expand upon the original stance of the removal of holiness
                                                  ii.     Explore the implications of Crumb’s work 
                                                iii.     Introduce the new works of literature being examined
                                                iv.     Extrapolate on the nature of Crumb’s work and its ties to religious personification of symbols and icons

b.     Main Paragraphs
                                                    i.     Examine the nature of Adam and Eve in the Garden
1.     Explore how Crumb’s edition differs from the typical depictions of religious iconography, including the presentation of Women.
                                                  ii.     Take a detailed looked at the construction of the Garden of Eden scene in both Crumb’s Genesis as well as Picture Bible and Manga Bible.  Focus will be placed on the scene with the cherubim and the flaming sword as its depiction is vastly changed between different versions.
c.      Expand upon my revision arguments such as the scene between Jacob and Esau, the bipedal snake, the cherubs and other scenes detailing violence such as the flood and grave human interactions.

III.             Explore Crumb’s Christian worldview, which empathizes a matriarchal lineage of religious over the patriarchal lineage which is typically expected.  The stress of matriarchy in Crumb’s work devalues the typical religious exchanges between God and male figures, such as God and Noah, Abraham and their descendants, which is of interest to me.
IV.            Further explore problems that Crumb’s Genesis may produce for Christian readers.

a.      This includes exploring Crumb’s comfort with pornographic images and violence which is rampant throughout the work.


  1. This is definitely an interesting topic and I think you clearly show how this research will have a wider impact on christian readers and the state of Christianity today. Crumb initially set out to very straightforwardly illustrate the bible, and I think in your essay you should take a stance on weather his literal interpretations accomplished this goal, or he made too many interpretations. If indeed he stuck tightly to the literal text, that could mean other illustrated works you examine were making their own interpretations, even if they seem to be the more widely used/accepted versions. You say that he is going against the religious mold, and I think it would be a very interesting conclusion if his "straight illustration job" was less 'religious' than those versions which made more interpretations of the bible but are seen as more conventional.
    Even if that's not the direction you go, you certainly have a lot of material here to use to interpret Genesis, with multiple books and a look at Crumb's personal life.

  2. At a very high level, this approach is a reasonable start. Investigating what Crumb is doing with material which ordinarily is interpreted through faith, and what his relationship is with that faith (or faiths - his wife is Jewish, which probably matters) is perfectly reasonable.

    But toward what end and from what point of view are you writing on this topic? Why does it matter, to us or to you, that Crumb's interpretation raises problems for more or less orthodox believers? Are you interested in exposing Crumb as being an aggressively ideological interpreter, who is making an attack upon orthodox faith? Are you interested in showing how he has exposed some possibilities for how more orthodox illustrators might approach illustration of the Bible themselves (that is, his interpretation might be problematic or even offensive, but also at the same time insightful).

    So here's my short version: it's an ok topic as long as you clarify what your approach, argument, and audience are.