The famously subversive US cartoonist Robert Crumb has announced the completion of his long-awaited take on the Book of Genesis. The acclaimed satirist revealed on his personal website that he had finished the project, which is out this autumn, and which his UK publisher is predicting will "provoke the religious right". Four years in the making, Crumb worked from the King James Bible and Robert Alter's translation to reinterpret the Book of Genesis, from the Creation via Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to Noah boarding his ark.
Back in 2005 in an interview at the New York Public Library recorded by Time magazine, Crumb, a hero of underground comics, talked about the difficulties of drawing God for the book. "My problem was, how am I going to draw God? Should I just draw him as a light in the sky that has dialogue balloons coming out from it? Then I had this dream. God came to me in this dream, only for a split second, but I saw very clearly what he looked like. And I thought, OK, there it is, I've got God," he told interviewer Robert Hughes, Time's art critic. "He has a white beard but he actually ended up looking more like my father. He has a very masculine face like my father." He had considered, he said, drawing God as a black woman. "But if you actually read the Old Testament he's just an old, cranky Jewish patriarch."
The cartoonist, who now lives in the south of France, said that creating the book had been "a lot of fun". "It's very visual. It's lurid. Full of all kinds of crazy, weird things that will really surprise people," he added.
According to his publisher, Jonathan Cape, Robert Crumb's Book of Genesis is a "scandalous satire" which "presents a complex, even subversive, narrative that calls for a significant re-examination of both the Bible's content and its role in our culture". It will be published simultaneously in the US and the UK on 19 October.
Crumb's website said that now he's finished the marathon project, he'll be catching up on his correspondence and taking a trip to the US. On his return, he's planning to collaborate with his wife and fellow artist Aline Kominsky-Crumb on a new book.