You’re one of the world’s most revered but reclusive cartoonists and you’ve just put out a book that confronts the biggest human enterprise of all: religion. So how to do you promote your book tour?

If you’re R. Crumb, hardly at all, as this statement at his website shows:

Robert, in accordance with his agreement with W.W. Norton Company (the publisher of his latest book), will spend much of this autumn promoting Genesis. In late September he will hold a two day press event in Paris, and in the middle of October start his press tour of the US in New York City. From there he is headed to Richmond, Virginia. From there he attends an event in L.A. where all 200+ pages of the original art which comprises the book will be shown at the Hammer Museum. From L.A. he goes up to San Francisco where he will do some interviews but also take some time off to visit friends. In the middle of November he goes to the University of Texas in Austin to finish the tour. Upon his return to France, he looks forward to beginning the new book he and Aline plan to do together.

While the listed itinerary for the Contractual Obligations Tour may be a bit light, our Intern Kate dug up the complete schedule, which kicks off TOMORROW in NYC at B&N:

10/23: New York BARNES & NOBLE/Union Square
In conversation with Francoise Mouly
7:00 PM
33 East 17th Street
New York, NY 10003

Pre-signed copies available for sale.

10/24 — Los Angeles: Hammer Museum’s exhibit of all of Crumb’s art for GENESIS goes on display.

10/27: Richmond UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND/Modlin Center for the Arts
In conversation with Francoise Mouly
7:30 p.m.
28 Westhampton Way
University of Richmond, VA 23173
(804) 289-8592

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10/29: Los Angeles UCLA LIVE!/Royce Hall
The Crumb/Mouly show comes to LA.
340 Royce Drive
PO Box 951529, Los Angeles, CA 90095
(310) 825-4401

Once again, Crumb and Mouly take to the stage.
8:00 PM
3200 California St
San Francisco, CA 94118-1994
(415) 292-1200

11/13: Austin UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, Bass Concert Hall
Crumb AND Art Spiegelman talk to Mouly in Austin
8:00 pm
23rd St and Robert Dedman Dr
Austin, TX 78712
(512) 471-2787

Tickets must be purchased for all the above events except B&N. However, if the New York Post is to be believed, a more informal event might be taking place on Long Island:

Underground comics legend R. Crumb is laying down the pen and picking up the mandolin.

He’ll be performing in the Hamptons before hitting the road to promote his latest work, “The Book of Genesis Illustrated.”

Crumb, a longtime blues lover who plays the mandolin, will be sitting in Saturday night with the East River String Band at Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, according to the New York Post.

The artist reportedly is friends with East Village band members John Heneghan and Eden Brower, and even drew the cover of their upcoming CD, “Drunken Barrel House Blues,” which rolls out on Halloween.

Story+Image Crumb-Jacob-Dream

MEANWHILE, Crumb’s literal and thoughtful take on the Book of Genesis is getting a lot of attention from secular and religious news outlets alike. Alas for those spoiling for a fight, most reviews have been measured.

§ Ben Witherington at

The kudos for this book are also coming in from other quarters— Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and chronicler of pop culture thinks Crumb is successfully translating the Bible into a new medium. And even Robert Alter (with or without his ego) well known for his rendering of The Five Books of Moses endorses the project. Crumb actually based what he did in part on the translations of Alter. For example Jacob’s ladder becomes Jacob’s ramp in Alter’s translation, and Crumb follows the latter, rather than the former, in his drawing.

§ Here’s one atheist book blogger’s take.

§ At EW, Ken Tucker gives it an A.

§ NPR concentrates on the dirty parts.

§ Recommended: Gabriel Mckee at Religious Dispatches has a well-written review that takes the books comics elements into account, and he also reviews Basil Wolverton’s Bible.

But Crumb isn’t a scholar, and it’s not entirely fair to ask him to spend too much time substantiating claims that, after all, only appear in the endnotes. The important thing is his visual interpretation of the story, and with a few blink-and-you’ll-miss-them panels showing goddess idols, the matriarchy hypothesis doesn’t break through into Crumb’s visual narrative. Where he does insert footnotes directly into the adaptation, they tend to offer either etymological explanation or curious gee-whiz excitement, as in his exclamation that “Noah was credited with being the first man to make wine! See chapter 9.”

§ But there are more critical takes. This UK Telegraoh piece attempts to fan the falmes of a Biblical sex row :

The Book of Genesis illustrated by R. Crumb has been criticised by leading religious groups such as the Christian Institute.

“It is turning the Bible into titillation,” said Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, a religious think-tank. “It seems wholly inappropriate for what is essentially God’s rescue plan for mankind.

“If you are going to publish your own version of the Bible it must be done with a great deal of sensitivity. The Bible is a very important text to many many people and should be treated with the respect it deserves.

“Representing it in your own way is all very well and good but it must be remembered that it is a matter of people’s faith, their religion.

§ And fair and balanced Fox News doesn’t stack the deck at all with their revised headline for the AP story: Comic-Strip Artist R. Crumb Mocks Book of Genesis
Unsurprisingly, that headline is picked up on at this Christian message board:

according to this he’s not mocking the stories, just God.

He needs prayer. And someone to share the gospel with him – Something tells me God’s “Grace” and “Mercy” was left out of his education

§ Finally, at Comcis Alliance Laura Hudson takes on the haters.


  1. I’ve read the satirical comics take on the Bible (Outrageous Tales From the Old Testament), and Crumb’s Genesis is nothing like it. His adaptation is respectful and honest, there is no titillation, and he makes the Book accessible.

    I’m curious… how many fundamentalist Christians criticized the realistic and almost pornographic sadomasochism presented in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”?

  2. I love how Fox News used the headline, “R. Crumb Mocks the Book of Genesis,” even though the article, itself, says that Crumb treated the material respectfully and literally! Ridiculous!

  3. Fock Snooz has become pretty much in the same league as the National Enquirer, SNL Weekend Update, Onion News Network, and my Great Aunt Joan with alzheimers in terms of credible news reporting, so the headline comes as no surprise.