Ken Tucker
October 20, 2009 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Could it be that Robert Crumb, after a half-century of drawing the margins of, first, “underground comics” and then nakedly-confessional “comix,” will finally become a best-selling author with today’s release of his The Book of Genesis Illustrated?

It sure looks that way. As of this writing, Genesis is No. 6 on Amazon.com, and No. 20 on Barnes & Noble’s website.

It helps, to some extent, that the reclusive Crumb—whose previous biggest media exposure was probably the terrific 1994 documentary Crumb—is doing some publicity for this book, granting interviews to places like Newsweek and USA Today.

And perhaps the book is tapping into two until-now distinct markets: Bible readers and Crumb readers. But ultimately, it’s Crumb’s glorious art, so meticulously detailed, so rich in both research and passion, that’s intriguing people who normally wouldn’t want to pick up a religious graphic novel by a counterculture icon.

Crumb lives the ex-pat life in the south of France these days. Here’s hoping he’s celebrating his successful publication with a glass of wine, some good cheese, and some fresh drawings in his sketchbook.

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