Tuesday, December 29, 2009


By Chris Wilson

I've been eyeballing R. Crumb's THE BOOK OF GENESIS for months now, thumbing through it every time I go to my local book store where it is prominently displayed in the graphic novel section. Something about that bright yellow block, depictions of real humans and the warning about supervising minors sucks me in. "Nothing Left Out" the dust jacket proclaims. What would one be tempted to leave out? That makes me want to read it more. (I am assuming the nakedness of Adam and Eve is what the scroll refers to, but who really knows until you read it.) Marketing is a powerful thing.

My sister and her family gave it to me as a Christmas present this year. I'm going to read it every morning between 5:30-6 a.m. while on the treadmill. The text is large enough to be read effectively while moving and shaking. I'm in no hurry to finish the 224-page beast, so I'll take my time.

My wife bought me a graphic novel, one she researched and picked out herself. "I thought you needed a grown-up book," she said as I unwrapped STUFFED! True, my life centers around reading and reviewing titles for students. She wanted me to enjoy reading a comic just for sheer pleasure of reading. So I sat down without any intent of writing a review.

While she and my daughter were out shopping and getting a hair cut I sat down in the quiet house with the dog on my lap and read … just for me. That was a few hours ago. If it's okay with you, I'll admit that I laughed at the neurosis of the estranged family. Both adult sons separated from their father as well as each other.

One is an insurance benefits worker – a stuffed shirt and tie man whose job it is to deny, deny, deny. He's a good guy, married with a child, and pretty well adjusted except for the fact that he has purged his childhood family from his life.

The other brother is a free spirit who changed his name from Oliver to Red Wolf and finally to Free. That's enough to tell you about his philosophy: pot smoking, wandering, and self-mutilation.

The Dad ... well it's no wonder his wives and sons left him. He's not much of a father, husband and I cannot image him as much of a friend either. Unless, of course, you find solace in sadistic troglodyte. When Dad dies and leaves his boys nothing but the only thing that mattered to him – an apartment filled with curiosities and oddball nothings that he called his museum, they are forced to deal with dear old dad. He did leave them one particular piece of historical significance. I won't spoil it for you, but the item in question is not easy to dispose of and even harder to keep.

If you enjoy books of intense family dysfunction, comedic neuroses, and character then STUFFED! is right up your alley. It was a great Christmas break, grown-up, self-indulgent read. I loved it. You'll get nothing more out of me. No official review. No recommendations. I gave you a synopsis and that's it. After all, I was given specific instructions to read just for myself.

What comics did you get for Christmas? Were they for you, friends, family or the classroom? Share your bounty with us all by leaving comments.

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