Writer, Editor, Author

Tag: literary graphic novels

Crumb draws too-literal Book of Genesis

I tried very hard to read The Book of Genesis, Illustrated by R. Crumb (Norton, $24.95, 2009), but after a few dozen pages resorted to simply skimming the text and lingering over the best of Crumb’s always amazing artwork.

But, frankly, scripture has never been anything I’ve enjoyed reading. And in this case, with what seems like pages of biblical figures “begating” a new generation, it’s a real disappointment for Crumb not to portray that one activity he draws so well!

The literal approach ends up feeling more like an exercise for Crumb — it’s not really clear from his introduction or the book itself what, if anything, he was trying to add to these tales — than anything that could hold the interest of anyone but a die-hard fan. Which, in an odd way, means the Book of Genesis has a lot in common with most superhero comics.

Asterios Polyp needs a better ending

I for the most part really enjoyed David Mazzuchelli’s graphic novel Asterios Polyp (Pantheon, $29.95, 2009). Mazzuchelli, of course, is best known as the artist who collaborated with Frank Miller on Batman: Year One and Daredevil: Reborn, among other 1980s efforts at Marvel and DC Comics, before moving on to his own series Rubber Blanket.

This thick novel tells the tale of a divorced, pompous architecture professor who runs away from his life when his apartment catches on fire. It’s a beautiful looking book, drawn in a simple style suited to what’s accepted for a literary graphic novel, making nice use of colored line work in particular to create a lovely effect.

As for the story, I found myself very much drawn into the first half of the book and then drifting away from it as the plot seemed to stall in favor of a more episodic approach. The eponymous protagonist goes from a complex mystery to a rather human but mundane character. The story never really delivers on its most interesting element — the idea that Polyp is followed by what is essentially the ghost of a twin brother who died in the womb. The tale failed to achieve the kind of breakthrough character development that it promises early on, heading to an unfortunately predictable though not completely unsatisfying resolution.

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