The Jewing Of The Bible
The Forward runs a rave of Robert Crumb's new illustrated Old Testament. It is, indeed, breathtaking:
Unlike previous Biblical comic adaptations, including some published and drawn by Jews, Crumb’s characters actually look Jewish, the women even more than the men. The contrast to the classic work, EC Comics’ “Picture Stories from the Bible” (1945) in that respect is most illuminating. But more recent works like the best-selling “Manga Bible” (2000) are not much different (nor was the “The Wolverton Bible” by one of the strangest of comic artists Basil Wolverton).
Close readers will see Crumb’s wife Aline Kominsky, to whom the book is dedicated, again and again, in various guises; perhaps only Chagall drew his beloved wife so often and with such varied imagination. Not only are the characters Jewish here, they are all ages and sizes.
If, for instance, there are more drawings of Jewish elders in any single volume of comic art anywhere, I have never seen them.
The women here are beautiful when young, heavily busted with large, muscular thighs. The men are strong, their beards full and noble. The deity has a really big beard and retains his notoriously bad temper, as well as his commanding presence, and absolute demand for loyalty. The animals of Genesis (in Noah’s ark and elsewhere) may be where Crumb is most similar to earlier comic art adaptations of Biblical texts, but they are drawn, like everything else, with such loving care that they are special and demand repeated viewing.