All 207 individual pages from Robert Crumb's Book of Genesis are on display this summer at the Portland Art Museum. The book was the comics event of 2009, and seeing the artwork in person is awe inspiring. The obsessively perfect brush strokes fill the page with black ink, yet all of his forms are rendered so clearly and naturally. It’s also great to see the human touches on the page, little dabs of white out, a bit of the pencils underneath, the precision and passion that Crumb brings to his work.
In a 2005 public interview with Robert Hughes at the New York Public Library, partially transcribed at Time‘s website, Crumb discussed the challenges of drawing the character of God:
He has a white beard but he actually ended up looking more like my father. He has a very masculine face like my father. My problem was, how am I going to draw God? Should I just draw him as a light in the sky that has dialogue balloons coming out from it? Then I had this dream. God came to me in this dream, only for a split second, but I saw very clearly what he looked like. And I thought, ok, there it is, I’ve got God.
Admission to the Portland Art Museum is free on fourth Fridays from 6-8pm. Check their schedule for a full list of events, including an appearance by film maker Terry Zwigoff and guest speakers from the comics community through August. The show is up now and runs through September 19.