Literary classics can be given new life with new artwork, and the Bible itself has undergone a re-inking or several to appeal to new, or younger, audiences. “The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb,” though – “all 50 chapters!” brags the cover – is not illustrated for kiddie appeal. God’s wrinkled brow and the expressive depictions of women (whose roles and thoughts are generally exempt from the patriarchal text) are just the first signs of practiced artistic mastery. And with comics-style panels for even the least expandable verses in the religious text, the project is thorough to say the least.
In a rare public appearance, Crumb will be on the Royce Hall stage in a UCLA Live program this week. Francoise Mouly, Crumb’s friend and his artistic director at The New Yorker, will be the other half of a conversation about Crumb’s life, his work, and his “Genesis.”
Since Crumb established himself in the underground comics movement, his artistic voice has become a profane and profound one of cultural hyperawareness and critique, from characters like “Mr. Natural” to Terry Zwigoff’s documentary “Crumb.” Between his incredible life, his work, and what the graphic writers in the rest of the UCLA Live season owe to his impact, this event is not to be missed.
UCLA Live will host An Evening With R. Crumb on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m. at Royce Hall. For more information, or to buy tickets, visit www.uclalive.org. A related exhibit, “The Bible Illuminated: R. Crumb’s Book of Genesis,” will be on display from Oct. 27 through Feb. 7 at the Hammer Museum.