I've been a fan of comic books ever since I first read The Beano. The writer Pat Mills once explained to me that for some reason, 'there's something naturally subversive about them'. You can't help but encounter challenging ideas if you spend a little time in a comic book shop. To me comics are sacred objects. Spell books for the mind. Just holding one puts me in a good mood.
This year, Robert Crumb, finally published his take on Genesis. I've been holding off purchasing it in anticipation of Christmas, it's always nice to leave something for my parents to buy me as a present. Now I've got it I can't say I'm even in the slightest bit dissapointed.
Here's the pitch: it's the first 50 chapters of The Bible with absolutely nothing left out. Faithfully reproduced from the most accurate translations Crumb could find. Despite what you might think though, this is not the work of a devout Christian. Crumb is a self confessed Gnostic who is quoted thus: "The Bible doesn't need to be satirised. It's already so crazy."
I couldn't agree more.
There are two major intellectual claims to fame that I can boast. One is that I have read the complete works of Shakespeare, while I was studying at Essex and the second is, I've actually read The Bible from cover to cover. I can't remember either works in full detail but if you tell me the bit you're talking about I can usually pick up the coversation. Of the two, the one I enjoyed the most was The Bible. It is, in a word, bonkers.
As a Discordian Athiest the first thing that strikes me is the fact you only need to get as far as the second chapter and the contradictions start. For example, there's two different creation myths in there, side by side and totally incongruent. Plough on to the story of Soddom and Gomorrah and you've got a comedy sketch that would have fitted into Monty Python.
One of my little party tricks since I was about 14 has been to read to people from the weirder pages of The Bible, a trick which Ricky Gervais pulled off with far more skill than I ever did in his stand up set Animals.
The thing that amazes me is most Christians haven't read it. If you are one of the faithful why not start with Crumb's version? It's very accurate and, as a result, very funny.