Envisioning the first book of the Bible like no one before him, R. Crumb, the legendary illustrator, retells the story of Genesis in a profoundly honest and deeply moving way. Originally thinking that he would do a takeoff of Adam and Eve, Crumb became so fascinated by the Bible's language, "a text so great and so strange that it lends itself readily to graphic depictions," that he decided instead to do a literal interpretation using the text word for word, assembled primarily from the translations of Robert Alter and the King James Version.
Now, readers of every persuasion-Crumb fans, comic book lovers, and believers-can gain astonishing new insights from these harrowing, tragic, and even juicy stories. Crumb's Book of Genesis reintroduces us to the bountiful tree-lined garden of Adam and Eve, the massive ark of Noah with beasts of every kind, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed by brimstone and fire that rained from the heavens, and the Egypt of the Pharaoh, where Joseph's embalmed body is carried in a coffin, in a scene as elegiac as any in Genesis. Using clues from the text and peeling away the theological and scholarly interpretations that have often obscured the Bible's most dramatic stories, Crumb fleshes out a parade of biblical originals: from the serpent in Eden, the humanoid reptile appearing like an alien out of a science fiction movie, to Jacob, a "kind of depressed guy who doesn't strike you as physically courageous," and his bother, Esau, "a rough and kick-ass guy," to Abraham's wife, Sarah, more fetching than most woman at ninety, to God himself, "a standard Charlton Heston-like figure with long white hair and a flowing beard."
As Crumb writes in his introduction, "the stories of this people, the Hebrews, were then something more than just stories, they were the foundation, the source, in writing, of religious and political power, handed down by God Himself." Crumb's Book of Genesis, the culmination of five years of painstaking work, is a tapestry of masterly detail and storytelling that celebrates the astonishing diversity of the one of our greatest artistic geniuses.