“What is the use of a book,” mused the title character in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, “without pictures or conversations?”
If you happen to share Alice’s sentiment, you’ll be delighted to know that a very famous book has just made its way back onto shelves—this time around with illustrations by a very famous artist.
Robert Crumb, the counterculture comic artist who illustrated album covers for The Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company, and created such subversive characters as Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural, has tackled what might seem to be an unlikely text for a skeptic and self-proclaimed Gnostic—The Book of Genesis.
Now, the greatest hits from the first book of the Bible—God creating earth, Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark among them—have been brought to life in explicit Crumb fashion (the book’s cover carries the warning, “Adult Supervision Recommended for Minors”).
The notoriously misanthropic and curmudgeonly Crumb spent four years illustrating Genesis; so far, the book has been met with a predictable mixture of largely positive critical reception and outcry from a handful of religious groups who claim Crumb sensationalized and sexualized the subject matter for commercial gain.
In a quote to The New York Times, Crumb said of Genesis:
“I had no intention to scandalize the Bible. I was intrigued by the challenge of exposing everything in there by illustrating it. The text is so significant in our culture, to bring everything out was a significant enough purpose for doing it.”