As someone who spent several years “translating a bible bigger than any now in use,” to quote from Frank Zindler’s review in American Atheist, with no reasonable expectation of ever receiving even a minimum wage for the time I invested, I am probably not the best person to be asking illustrator R. Crumb why he turned Genesis into a graphic novel. A climber’s comment about why he climbed Mount Everest, “because it’s there,” seems to be the only explanation.
Certainly Crumb neither draws attention to Genesis’s absurdity and moral depravity nor attempts to do so. An Amazon reviewer suggested he was a guilty Catholic trying to make amends for his use of satire in his previous less-than-pious comics, and I see no evidence here that such an assessment was inaccurate. An illustrated version of the collection of fairy tales found in ninety percent of American homes and actually read in only a tiny fraction of that number serves the cause of religion considerably more than it serves the cause of freedom from religion. Given how unteachable the organized crime syndicate known as the Catholic Church is, it is unlikely to recognize that Crumb has provided it with a useful tool for propagating its pretence that human beings are the domesticated livestock of the most sadistic, evil, mass-murdering psychopath in all fiction. After all, for several centuries the RC Church refused to allow its bible to be translated into languages its mindslaves could read, out of fear that if they learned what their bible really says they would cease to be godworshippers. That did not happen, not because believers were saner or more intelligent than the church hierarchy feared, but because the masses were no more willing to read a vernacular bible than a Latin bible. So if the Vatican fears that an illustrated bible might draw the attention of pope addicts to the book’s status as the most obscene paean to evil ever written, with the possible exception of the Koran, they are still crediting the godphuqt with functioning human brains that they do not have.
Crumb appends his illustrations to the 2004 bible translation by Robert Alter, not the worst choice he could have made, but certainly a version that continues a centuries-long tradition of falsifying every passage that, in the original language, diametrically contradicted the mythology the translator wanted to perpetuate. Thus Alter’s translation begins, “When God began to create heaven and earth.” Compare that to The Protestant Bible Correctly Translated, which renders the same passage, “At commencement the gods conjured up the skies and the land.” Crumb reproduces the entire content of Alter’s translation unabridged, and adds comic-strip illustrations to each verse, creating a graphic novel.
For persons not familiar with the term “graphic novel,” it means simply “illustrated novel.” The illustrations are not “graphic” as some persons use that word, meaning permeated with images that the squeamish call “pornography.” In a couple of places (chapters 19, 24) Crumb illustrates expressions such as “lay with him” and “loved her” with depictions of the individuals copulating. But the drawings are not explicit, and a child would perceive the couples as simply cuddling.
As much as I hate to give aid and comfort to pushers of the most contagious form of mind-AIDS that has ever existed, I feel obliged to acknowledge that a religion that adopted this book and distributed paperback copies could greatly increase its following. I only hope that does not happen.