WE get to see the face of God in Robert Crumb’s Book Of Genesis. But was the representation of the Creator accurate? In 1974, Crumb gave us another image of God, one based on Philip K. Dick’s memory.
Dick’s Divine vision was triggered by seeing a delivery girl,who was wearing a Jesus fish on a chain about her neck. Dick had taken LSD:
In that instant, as I stared at the gleaming fish sign and heard her words, I suddenly experienced what I later learned is called anamnesis—a Greek word meaning, literally, “loss of forgetfulness.” I remembered who I was and where I was. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, it all came back to me. And not only could I remember it but I could see it. The girl was a secret Christian and so was I. We lived in fear of detection by the Romans. We had to communicate with cryptic signs. She had just told me all this, and it was true.
For a short time, as hard as this is to believe or explain, I saw fading into view the black, prisonlike contours of hateful Rome. But, of much more importance, I remembered Jesus, who had just recently been with us, and had gone temporarily away, and would very soon return. My emotion was one of joy. We were secretly preparing to welcome Him back. It would not be long. And the Romans did not know. They thought He was dead, forever dead. That was our great secret, our joyous knowledge. Despite all appearances, Christ was going to return, and our delight and anticipation were boundless.
DECADES before it went live, Robert Crumb predicted Twitter and the internet:
“Everyone will be tuned into everything that’s happening all the time! No-one will be left out. We’ll all be normal!”
WHY did the New Yorker magazine reject Robert Crumb’s same sex marriage cover (see above)? Nadja Sayej got the bottom of why the New Yorker didn’t use this art by Robert Crumb: They never told him…
Did the rejection offend you?
I’m in a privileged position because I don’t need the money. When you go to the cover editor’s office, you notice that the walls are covered with rejected New Yorker covers. Sometimes there are two rejected covers for each issue. I don’t know what the usual policy is, but I was given no explanation from David Remnick, the editor in chief, who makes the final decisions.
Has the New Yorker attempted to commission work from you since this cover?
Yeah, Françoise [Mouly, the art editor] keeps mailing me these form letters, which they send to various artists they like to use. It says something like, “OK, so here are the topics for upcoming covers.” They send it out a couple of times a year or something. But it’s a form letter, not a personal letter.
Did you receive an apology?
An apology? I don’t expect an apology. But if I’m going to work for them I need to know the criteria for why they accept or reject work. The art I made, it only really works as a New Yorker cover. There’s really no other place for it. But they did pay me beforehand—decent money. I have no complaint there. I asked Françoise what was going on with it and she said, “Oh, Remnick hasn’t decided yet…” and he changed his mind several times about it. I asked why and she didn’t know. Several months passed. Then one day, I got the art back in the mail, no letter, no nothing.
ROBERT Crumb – her might be an American hero:
IT’S Sunday. Time to study the Bible, with Robert Crumb’s Book of Genesis.
Greta Christina reviews:
Of course I’ve read Genesis. More than once. It’s been a little while since I’ve read the whole thing all the way through, but it’s not like it’s unfamiliar. But there’s something about seeing the story fleshed out in images to make some of its more striking narrative turns leap out and grab your brain by the root. There’s nothing quite like seeing the two different creation stories enacted on the page to make you go, “Hey! That’s right! Two completely different creation stories!” There’s nothing quite like seeing Lot offer his daughters to be gang-raped to make you recoil in shock and moral horror. There’s nothing quite like seeing the crazed dread and burning determination in Abraham’s eyes as he prepares the sacrifice of his own son to make you feel the enormity of this act. Reading these stories in words conveys the ideas; seeing them in images conveys the visceral impact. It makes it all seem vividly, immediately, humanly real.
Now, that is something of a mixed blessing. Spending a few days with the characters in Genesis isn’t the most relaxing literary vacation you’ll ever take. Richard Dawkins wasn’t kidding when he said, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.” The God character in Genesis is cruel, violent, callous, insecure, power-hungry, paranoid, hot-tempered, morally fickle… I could go on and on. And God’s followers aren’t much better. They lie, they scheme, they cheat one another, they conquer other villages with bloodthirsty imperialist glee, they kill at the drop of a hat. This isn’t Beatrix Potter here. It’s more like Dangerous Liaisons by way of Quentin Tarantino. With tents, sand, and sheep.
MAD Magazine is an American institution. It’s been going since 1952 and is still funny, but it’s given the world more than just gags…
THE FREEDOM TO TAKE THE PISS
In 1961, a group of composers including Irving Berlin (writer of White Christmas) tried to sue MAD following a series of parody songs they’d published, to be sung to the tunes of the originals. The case ended up in the Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled in MAD’s favour – they basically ruled that it was clear these songs were jokes, that they weren’t intended to be mistaken for the originals, and that they weren’t damaging. This was seen as a landmark case in terms of making parodies legit, and is still regularly cited in courts.
ULTRAVIOLENCE WITH A SUBTEXT
Antonio Prohias’s Spy Vs Spy strip was a wordless ongoing saga of a black-clad spy and a white-clad spy trapping, bombing, shooting and blowing each other up in contrived-but-amazing ways using good old-fashioned big round bombs with “BOMB” written on them. As well as needless violence, though, it’s an allegory of the Cold War, the thirty-year period of general global tenseness that led to the revolution in Prohias’s native Cuba. So it’s well clever, innit, with its explosions. Prohias died in 1998, but the strip continues in airbrush-and-stencil form by Peter Kuper, still bearing the credit “By Prohias” in spy-esque Morse Code every time.
A GAP-TOOTHED CHAMPION
The grinning, gap-toothed idiot on nearly every cover of MAD, Alfred E Neuman has become a beloved American icon despite rarely if ever showing up in the magazine itself – his appearances are limited to the cover and a quote on the contents page. On the covers, though, he’s been everyone from King Kong to Justin Bieber to Jabba The Hutt to the baby from the Nevermind album. He and his catchphrase (“What, me worry?”) have still become enormous – Jimi Hendrix introduced his Woodstock set with “What, me worry?”. Barack Obama, arguably the most powerful individual in the world, once described himself as having “the politics of [former Presidential candidate] Alfred E Smith and the ears of Alfred E Neuman”.
NEW FERSCHLUGGINER WORDS
You know that impossible-to-colour-in optical illusion of a trident that might be a bident? MAD named it – it’s called a poiuyt (which is a very satisfying word to type). They also enjoyed popularising obscure German or Yiddish words, like potrzebie, veeblefetzer and furshlugginer, which became ingrained enough in American culture to recently pop up in Boardwalk Empire.
One of the trademark features of any issue of MAD is Al Jaffee’s Fold-In, an image on the inside back cover that starts off as one thing and, by folding a section of the page into another, reveals a hidden message – like the one Marge’s cellmate has tattooed on her back when she goes to prison in The Simpsons. They’re ridiculously clever, and the now 91-year-old Jaffee does them with no help from Photoshop or computers at all, preferring to paint on a stiff wooden board and only seeing the folded-in image when he’s sent the magazine. Try making one. You can’t. It’s just too HARD.
MARGINS BETTER THAN WHAT THEY SURROUNDED
Most magazines feature loads of dead space in the margins. At MAD they decided to make them a bit more interesting, by getting Sergio Aragones (owner of a badass moustache and known as the fastest cartoonist in the world) to doodle in them. He’s been doing this since 1963, only missing one issue when the Post Office lost his mail.
THE BEST PUBLISHER EVER
MAD founder Bill Gaines was the son of Max Gaines, who had been instrumental in the success of Action Comics in the 1930s before setting up his own company, Educational Comics (EC). After Max’s death, Bill took over and started publishing first romance, then horror comics. These comics – including Tales From The Crypt and Weird Science – were really successful but led to the Comics Code Authority, essentially a censorship board. Gaines responded by transforming the two-year-old MAD from a comic into a magazine. When MAD became successful, Gaines became known for his eccentricities and simultaneous cheapness and generosity. Every year he would take the whole staff on an overseas trip – one year, he found out MAD had one subscriber in Haiti, whose subscription was about to run out, so he took the whole staff to visit him and persuade him to renew it. He also once paid twice the market value of really low-grade paper because he felt MAD shouldn’t be printed on nice stock. Until his death in 1992, he was greeted by staff members with a cheery “Fuck you, Bill”.
A BUNCH OF SHORT-LIVED IMITATORS
A lot of pretenders to MAD’s throne stepped up over the years, of varying degrees of quality. Cracked (which survives as the genuinely excellent Cracked.com) was an unabashed poor-man’s version of it that nonetheless lasted forty years, while Crazy, Sick, Flip, Whack, Nuts (not that one), Wild, Riot, Bughouse, Eh, Unsane, Get Lost and Panic all bit the dust pretty quick.
THE WORST MOVIE EVER
After the success of the amazing 1978 film Animal House, produced in association with the magazine National Lampoon, MAD became attached to a similar college-set film called Up The Academy, starring former Bond girl (and later wife of Ringo Starr) Barbara Bach. It was by all accounts a complete dog-egg, leading MAD to disown it, and Bill Gaines to pay $30,000 to remove MAD’s name from it and offer handwritten apologies and refunds to anyone who’d sat through it.
THE USUAL GANG OF IDIOTS
Before the switch to magazine format, founding editor Harvey Kurtzman created the majority of the magazine, but after the switch, freelancers known as “the usual gang of idiots” came in and made the magazine their own. Regular readers of MAD learned to look out for certain names on features – if Dick DeBartolo had written a Mort Drucker-illustrated film spoof, you knew it was going to be good. One of their strangest but best-loved contributors was Don Martin, known for his incredibly unusual way of drawing feet and ridiculous sound effects – like Wonder Woman undoing her bra being soundtracked with “Snap ploobadoof”. Both loved and hated was Dave Berg’s The Lighter Side Of…, a long-running, severely inoffensive feature which featured probably the worst-dressed characters ever drawn.
BIG, BIG ART NAMES
As well as influencing a ton of big names (there’d be no Daniel Clowes without MAD, Robert Crumb cites it as a huge influence, and Alan Moore has claimed that MAD’s Superduperman spoof was a direct influence on Watchmen) some properly big deals have passed through the doors of MAD. Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman, of Maus fame, was a regular contributor, Drew Struzan and Frank Frazetta both did covers, and one issue a few years ago contained contributions from no less than ten Pulitzer-winning cartoonists. Plus “Weird Al” Yankovic once wrote for them.
A BETTER VIZ
Viz editor Graham Dury, creator of the Fat Slags, tells us “MAD magazine had a massive influence on me when I was little. The two blokes on earth I would most like to get stuck in a lift with are Don Martin and Sergio Aragones, so long as they had a big stack of paper and some pens with them. I loved the way everybody Martin drew had that fantastic self-confident strut and shoes that flopped over at the end. And Aragones’s scribblings were probably the best bit of the magazine. They showed that the editors really cared about it and wanted to just pack it with stuff. But I doubt I’ll end up in a lift with either of them. Well certainly not Don Martin anyway, as he’s dead. If any of your readers see Sergio Aragones getting into a dodgy looking lift, could they let me know?”
Much in the same way that Nirvana only really felt like they’d made it when they got a call from “Weird Al” Yankovic, being spoofed in MAD is kind of like a badge of honour. MAD’s letters page regularly features notes from celebrities proudly holding up magazines taking the piss out of them. When asked about big moments in his career, Slash from Guns N’Roses said “The magazine cover that has meant the most to me was probably when I appeared in MAD magazine, as a caricature of Alfred E. Neuman. That was when I felt I’d arrived.”
AMERICA IN A NUTSHELL
If there was an alien race out there that had only ever been exposed to MAD, they’d have a pretty decent grasp of modern American history. You can trace wars, leaders, politics and technology through it, as well as the history of entertainment, from issue #4’s Superduperman to last issue’s Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus cover. MAD’s first cover after 9/11 nearly didn’t happen – the initial cover story was on the New York Marathon, and showed corpse-laden NY streets. They wisely decided to pull it, and replaced it with an image that was simultaneously funny, respectful, patriotic and… excuse us, there must be dust in here.
Comics in the 50s didn’t encourage people to question anything – everything was more about being pleasant and not rocking the boat. MAD came along and started picking holes in the American Dream, suggesting the products Americans were buying were crap, their leaders were clueless and that the people were being treated like dicks. These days everyone’s a cynical bastard, but MAD invented it.
SHAMELESS Nostalgia journeys to the 1970s to showcase: Robert Plant in his budgie smugglers; Keith Richards wondering who or what Mick Jagger is; Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific; Sleazy 70s Stag Films; Live and Let Live with Kloss; a Ravioli Smile; the Sex Pistols are childminders; Stoned Again with Robert Crumb; and Needlepoint for men…
THE top 100 living geniuses according to the, er, geniuses, at Creators Synectics, a global consultantncy outfit.
The list is the result of a survey of 4,000 Britons in the summer of 2007.
Marks out of 10 for: paradigm shifting; popular acclaim; intellectual power; achievement and cultural importance.
Apparently bin Laden could have written windows:
|1=||Tim Berners-Lee||(British)||Computer Scientist||27|
|3||George Soros||(American)||Investor & Philanthropist||25|
|4||Matt Groening||(American)||Satirist & Animator||24|
|5=||Nelson Mandela||(South African)||Politician & Diplomat||23|
|7=||Dario Fo||(Italian)||Writer & Dramatist||22|
|12=||Li Hongzhi||(Chinese)||Spiritual Leader||20|
|15=||Daniel Tammet||(British)||Savant & Linguist||19|
|20=||Richard Dawkins||(British)||Biologist and philosopher||16|
|20=||Larry Page & Sergey Brin||(American)||Publishers||16|
|25||Garry Kasparov||(Russian)||Chess Player||15|
|26=||The Dalai Lama||(Tibetan)||Spiritual Leader||14|
|26=||Steven Spielberg||(American)||Film maker||14|
|26=||Robert Edwards||(British)||Pioneer of IVF treatment||14|
|31||Harold Pinter||(British)||Writer & Dramatist||13|
|32=||Bobby Fischer||(American)||Chess Player||12|
|32=||Avram Noam Chomski||(American)||Philosopher & linguist||12|
|32=||Sebastian Thrun||(German)||Probabilistic roboticist||12|
|32=||Nima Arkani Hamed||(Canadian)||Physicist||12|
|40=||Enrique Ostrea||(Philippino)||Pediatrics & neonatology||11|
|43=||Osama Bin Laden||(Saudi)||Islamicist||10|
|43=||James West||(American)||Invented the foil electrical microphone||10|
|43=||Tuan Vo-Dinh||(Vietnamese)||Bio-Medical Scientist||10|
|49=||Stevie Wonder||(American)||Singer songwriter||9|
|49=||Vint Cerf||(American)||Computer scientist||9|
|49=||Henry Kissinger||(American)||Diplomat and politician||9|
|49=||Pardis Sabeti||(Iranian)||Biological anthropologist||9|
|49=||Jon de Mol||(Dutch)||Television producer||9|
|58=||John Lasseter||(American)||Digital Animator||8|
|58=||Shunpei Yamazaki||(Japanese)||Computer scientist & physicist||8|
|58=||Jane Goodall||(British)||Ethologist & Anthropologist||8|
|58=||Kirti Narayan Chaudhuri||(Indian)||Historian||8|
|58=||Leonard Cohen||(Canadian)||Poet & musician||8|
|67=||Steve Wozniak||(American)||Engineer and co-founder of Apple Computers||7|
|67=||Martin Cooper||(American)||Inventor of the cell phone||7|
|72=||George Lucas||(American)||Film maker||6|
|72=||Annette Baier||(New Zealander)||Philosopher||6|
|72=||Ivan Marchuk||(Ukrainian)||Artist & sculptor||6|
|72=||Mark Dean||(American)||Inventor & computer scientist||6|
|72=||Rick Rubin||(American)||Musician & producer||6|
|83=||Jon Fosse||(Norwegian)||Writer & dramatist|
|83=||Graham Linehan||(Irish)||Writer & dramatist||5|
|83=||Ken Russell||(British)||Film maker||5|
|83=||Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov||(Russian)||Small arms designer||5|
|91=.||Chad Varah||(British)||Founder of Samaritans||4|
|91=||Nicolas Hayek||(Swiss)||Businessman and founder of Swatch||4|
|94=||Thomas A. Jackson||(American)||Aerospace engineer||3|
|94=||Michael Eavis||(British)||Organiser of Glastonbury||3|
THE Twenty greatest living genuises. “Creators Synectics, a global consultants firm, chose their geniuses by awarding scores out of 10 to each entrant against a number of factors: paradigm shifting; popular acclaim; intellectual power; achievement and cultural importance.”
1= Albert Hoffman (Swiss) Chemist 27
1= Tim Berners-Lee (British) Computer Scientist 27
3 George Soros (American) Investor & Philanthropist 25
4 Matt Groening (American) Satirist & Animator 24
5= Nelson Mandela (South African) Politician & Diplomat 23
5= Frederick Sanger (British) Chemist 23
7= Dario Fo (Italian) Writer & Dramatist 22
7= Steven Hawking (British) Physicist 22
9= Oscar Niemeyer (Brazilian) Architect 21
9= Philip Glass (American) Composer 21
9= Grigory Perelman (Russian) Mathematician 21
12= Andrew Wiles (British) Mathematician 20
12= Li Hongzhi (Chinese) Spiritual Leader 20
12= Ali Javan (Iranian) Engineer 20
15= Brian Eno (British) Composer 19
15= Damian Hirst (British) Artist 19
15= Daniel Tammet (British) Savant & Linguist 19
18 Nicholson Baker (American Writer 18
19 Daniel Barenboim (N/A) Musician 17
20= Robert Crumb (American) Artist 16
20= Richard Dawkins (British) Biologist and philosopher 16
20= Larry Page & Sergey Brin (American) Publishers 16
20= Rupert Murdoch (American) Publisher 16
20= Geoffrey Hill (British) Poet 16
JOHN Carpenter’s film career has had its critical ups and downs, but time – the final arbiter of success, perhaps – has been almost universally kind to the vast majority of his cinematic work.
Reviled upon release in the summer of Spielberg’s E.T., John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is now revered as a horror classic and a work of art superior to the Howard Hawks film of 1951.
Similarly, Carpenter’s anti-yuppie battle cry, They Live (1988) has been re-evaluated as an ahead-of-its time masterpiece about the imminent death of the middle class in America, and “vulture capitalists” picking at its bones.
Even In the Mouth of Madness (1994), dismissed on original release as lesser-Carpenter, is widely considered now to be the finest interpretation of the Lovecraft aesthetic yet committed to film.
The media looks at a defector wanted by police in connection with the Lockerbie bombing and the murder of Pc Yvonne Fletcher.
A short bio:
Kusa, 61, is widely suspected of masterminding a string of terror attacks. He was a high-ranking leader in Libya’s notorious “external security bureau”, the Mathaba, which has been repeatedly linked to the 270 murders at Lockerbie.
It’s believed he was also behind the bombing of a French jet that killed 170 people in 1989, as well as a 1986 blast at a German disco that killed two American servicemen and a woman from Turkey.
And many believe he knows who killed WPC Yvonne Fletcher, gunned down in 1984 by two assassins firing from inside the Libyan Embassy in London.
Kusa was himself de facto ambassador to Britain in 1979 and 1980. But he was kicked out after openly backing the IRA – and announcing plans to murder two Libyan dissidents on British soil.
The IRA Years:
Undated handouts of victims of the Omagh bombing. They are (top row, from the left) 12-year-old James Barker, Esther Gibson, Sean McGrath, Gareth Conway, Elizabeth Rush, Fred White, Lorraine Wilson and (bottom row, from the left) Veda Short, Alan Radford, Bryan White, Brenda Logue, Deborah Cartwright, Geraldine Breslin, and Oran Doherty.
Branded a “superstar of terrorism” and “envoy of death”, the list of atrocities linked to Libyan Musa Kusa send shivers down the spine. Described as the “black box recorder” of the regime…
The Cowardly Old Man:
Libyan spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said Mr Kusa had permission to go to Tunisia as he was sick with diabetes and high blood pressure, but the regime was surprised to learn he had flown to London.
“People are saying ‘So what? If someone wants to step down that’s his decision’,” Mr Ibrahim said. “He is tired and exhausted. He is an old man. His heart and body cannot take the pressure.”
He Fled Us To Be With Us:
A senior Whitehall source said of Kusa, 62: “He came over because he thought we were going to bomb him. It was quite simple. He was scared and acted out of self-preservation.”
MUSA Kusa’s interrogation will last from two to three years as MI5 officers ¬painstakingly squeeze every bit of ¬information they can from him.
But it may be well worth it to him, clinching a huge financial deal and a safe haven here or possibly in the US.
One source told the Daily Mirror that it was highly likely a secret Cabinet committee meeting in a few years would agree a package for him, perhaps worth several million pounds. But whatever his demands, no promises or even a hint of an offer will be made to him for at least six months.
He’s One Of Us, says Paul Pillar:
But I think his decision reflects more than just a calculation of odds about the outcome of the current Libyan civil war. Kusa is an urbane, polished man who would not look out of place as a minister or ambassador in the service of a western government. He has a western education, in the form of a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University. He is not the image of a revolutionary or a subversive; he comes across as a polite and pragmatic diplomat. Whatever thuggish history may be in his past, it is hard to picture him as representing the current thuggish elements of the Libyan regime. In this moment of trial, anguish, and uncertainty, probably something inside told him that he belongs in the west.
In his statement Mr Hague said:
His resignation shows that Qadhafi’s regime, which has already seen significant defections to the opposition, is fragmented, under pressure and crumbling from within. Qadhafi must be asking himself who will be the next to abandon him.
We reiterate our call for Qadhafi to go. Musa Kusa is not being offered any immunity from British or international justice.
Who now speaks for the 270 people murdered at Lockerbie?
Frank Duggan, president of the Victims of Pan Am 103 group, said: “He should not be treated as a witness but as part of the criminal enterprise that brought down the plane.”
“He knows who ordered it, who made the bomb, who paid for it, who transported it to Malta and how it was put on the plane. He knows the details of (bomber) Megrahi’s release from the Scottish prison, including the role of the British officials,” he said.
Jim Swire’s daughter Flora was killed in the mass murder:
Mr Swire, who met Mr Kusa during a visit to Libya in 1991, described Mr Kusa as “extremely frightening. More frightening than Gaddafi himself”. He said: “He was clearly running things. If Libya was involved in Lockerbie, he can tell us how they carried out the atrocity and why. I would be appalled if by now the Scottish police are not in England interviewing Mr Kusa. It is a great day for us.”
We’re the good guys:
But Mr Cameron hailed the defection of Kusa as a ‘serious blow’ to the ‘crumbling and rotten Gaddafi regime’.
Change the words around and you get:
But Mr Gaddafi hailed the defection of Kusa as a ‘serious blow’ to the ‘crumbling and rotten Cameron regime’.
That’s hard on Cameron. The difference between democratic Britain and Libya is that the Tony Blair-led Labour administration that fixed it for Abdel Basset al-Megrahi to escape justice and live out his days in freedom has gone. But the overriding message remains unaltered if the British Government does not get justice for the 270 and continues to lie and connive to sacrifice truth for money.
“Let me be clear, Musa Kusa is not being granted immunity, there is no deal of that kind. The point I would make about the dreadful events over Lockerbie, that investigation is still open and the police and the prosecuting authorities are entirely independent of Government and they should follow their evidence wherever it leads and the Government will assist them in any way possible.”
THEY WANT JUSTICE!
Susan Cohen, 72, of Cape May, New Jersey, who lost her 20-year-old daughter Theodora in the bombing, added: “He should go to jail, he has to be put on trial and he has to see justice. Britain has to take responsibility for this guy and do the right thing. This time Britain has to mean it.”
Tory MP Robert Halfon adds:
“I think what has happened is comparable to Rudolf Hess coming here during the Second World War. The fact is that this man is most likely a war criminal, allegedly been responsible for the deaths of British citizens, allegedly the organiser of the Lockerbie bombing. He needs to go to the international court to face trials for war crimes. There’s no way the British taxpayer should be subsidising one of Gaddafi’s henchmen to live in the UK.”