Cult Cartoonist Robert Crumb reveals he is a Gnostic

Underground comic artist Robert Crumb has recently joined the ranks of the perennial heretics known as the Gnostics. According to an Agence France-Presse report, Crumb admitted he was a Gnostic during a press conference for the international launch of ‘The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb’. This announcement, along with his new book, reveals for the first time the theological leanings of an important cult figure. Crumb is best known for his ‘Fritz the Cat’ and ‘American Splendor’ comics.

“The Bible is not the word of God. It’s the words of men,” he said at the press conference in Paris. “I take it all as myth from start to finish.” This attitude was echoed by the ancient Gnostics, who saw Holy Scripture as a tool of dominance from oppressive religious institutions and embraced mythology as a vehicle for spiritual liberation.

Examiner: Cult Cartoonist Robert Crumb reveals he is a Gnostic

(via Wade)

A couple people have expressed skepticism about Crumb’s Gnosticism based on the article linked, and the article that article cites. Here is an interview with Crumb in Vanity Fair where he says very clearly that he is a Gnostic:

I would call myself a Gnostic. Which means, I’m interested in pursuing and understanding the spiritual nature of things. A Gnostic is somebody seeking knowledge of that aspect of reality. That’s more of an Eastern idea, like Buddhism.

More light is shed on his spiritual beliefs in this interview.

7 Comments

  1. In other words, cult cartoonist Robert Crumb did not reveal that he is a Gnostic.

  2. “The Bible is not the word of God. It’s the words of men. I take it all as myth from start to finish.”

    How is that gnosticism?

  3. Trevor – you might be better off asking a Gnostic, but it is my understanding that the idea that the Bible is myth is consistent with Gnosticism.

    From the story cited by the story I link to:

    “The lanky gray-haired Crumb, in grey suit and waistcoat for the two-hour media conference, poked fun at the Almighty hero of the book but said he had reneged his Roman Catholic upbringing to become a gnostic ‘on a spiritual quest’.”

  4. Though today he said on Talk of the Nation that he doesn’t identify with any religion, so I take that to mean he doesn’t consider “being a Gnostic on a spiritual quest” to be a religion, or the Agence France-Presse misquoted him, or he changed his mind already.

  5. In neither article does the word “Gnostic” appear within an actual Crumb quotation.

  6. Here is an interview with Crumb in Vanity Fair during which Crumb calls himself a Gnostic:

    “Well, you called yourself an agnostic. I would call myself a Gnostic. Which means, I’m interested in pursuing and understanding the spiritual nature of things. A Gnostic is somebody seeking knowledge of that aspect of reality. That’s more of an Eastern idea, like Buddhism.”

    http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2009/10/robert-crumb-thinks-god-might-actually-be-crazy.html

  7. Thanks. That’s an eccentric definition of the word “Gnostic,” but it at least reflects Crumb’s actual stated beliefs.

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