March 7, 2005 2:20 PM   Subscribe

Interview of R Crumb, 60's legendary twisted cartoonist creator of Fritz the Cat and Snoid. This is no conservative man. Of Serena Williams he foams: "This butt is just bionic. It's beyond anything. It's unbelievable. Imagine having access to that?" He has a foot fetish, an obsession with piggybacking and delights in drawing outlandish pornographic cartoons. {more links at bottom of page} Related discussion/links here [All FPP links are SFW but some links from above sites are guaranteed NSFW]
posted by peacay (29 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
By all means if you haven't seen the documentary on his family and his life, do see it. It's pretty freaky.
posted by mathowie at 2:27 PM on March 7, 2005

An earlier MeFi Crumb thread has some interesting stuff too.
posted by liam at 2:27 PM on March 7, 2005

Interesting to see what he's been up to since "Crumb" the film.

I wonder if he's got anything exciting and new, really; it seems like he's the same old Crumb. Do we think he'll ever move in a new(ish) direction?
posted by Specklet at 2:30 PM on March 7, 2005

I don't know how old these are but they're said to be "from his latest sketchbook".

They seem pretty familiar.
posted by peacay at 2:37 PM on March 7, 2005

Do we think he'll ever move in a new(ish) direction?

Let's ask Philip Glass.
posted by crunchland at 2:41 PM on March 7, 2005

i thought the documentary was astounding.

it was perhaps unsurprising that the crumb sisters (three i think) chose not to be a part of the film. i would be fascinated to see what they're like.

but i also thought his elder brother was actually the more talented illustrator. also a lot more unhinged. it's a pity really.
posted by soi-disant at 2:44 PM on March 7, 2005

Do we think he'll ever move in a new(ish) direction?

Jazz Odyssey!
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:46 PM on March 7, 2005

He did release an album ... okay, not his own music, but it does reveal another passion, for old recordings from all over the world. It's really very good, as "world music" compilations go.
posted by louigi at 2:56 PM on March 7, 2005

I doubt Crumb picks his direction as much as he is subject to it. He's a compulsive illustrator in the same sense that a lot of "outsider" artists are.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:10 PM on March 7, 2005

louigi, don't forget crumb's own band, the cheap suit serenaders.
posted by retronic at 3:12 PM on March 7, 2005

oh, and terry zwigoff (he of the crumb documentary) was a band member for a time, too.
posted by retronic at 3:13 PM on March 7, 2005

Crumb is definitely a freak, but he'd probably be dead or incarcerated if it weren't for his art. Sometimes people call creating art "theraputic," but in Crumb's case that seems to be its literal function.

To me, the hardest part of watching the "Crumb" documentary (excellent movie, BTW) was how completely he disregards the feelings of his son, Jesse, while he dotes on his new wife and daughter. Last I heard, Jesse was running Crumb's website. The linked article doesn't even mention Crumb having a son. I wonder if they even speak anymore now that R. and Aline have gone to France.
posted by BoringPostcards at 3:16 PM on March 7, 2005

Say what you will, he is right about Serena Williams. Bionic!
posted by BartFargo at 3:50 PM on March 7, 2005

While he may not be a conservative man, surprisingly some members of the (crazy) far right have made an icon of him.
posted by jonson at 4:05 PM on March 7, 2005

While he may not be a conservative man, surprisingly some members of the (crazy) far right have made an icon of him

Wow. I can't imagine what it would be like to go through life taking everything literally, without any awareness of subtext. I feel for the person running that web site.
posted by davejay at 4:51 PM on March 7, 2005

Thanks for the tip on this article. I'm one who had no exposure to Crumb until I watched Zwigoff's documentary. Yes he's a perverted asshole, but I'm sure that Jesse is doing just fine. Aline is annoying, but I love those comics they've been doing in The New Yorker, so that cure's her for me.

And that ass is robotic, good god!
posted by greasy_skillet at 6:48 PM on March 7, 2005

Crumb walks among us as a man, as they say.

His best work stands head and shoulders above everyone else in his feild. Plus, he has exquisite musical taste.
posted by jonmc at 7:18 PM on March 7, 2005

True story...back in the late 80's - early 90's, a group of friends and I started publishing comics. (I knew very little about comics at the time, other than the fact that I knew an extraordinary number of really good artists.) But, I had a real job and thus I became the venture capitalist of the crew...and frankly, my sister and I made good "table biscuits" at trade shows.

Anyway, we're at the San Diego booksellers/Comic Con and she and I notice that this strange man kept following us around and sketching madly. Well, having been exposed to a lot of comic guys by that point we figured he looked harmless enough, so we kinda raised an eyebrow, shrugged and ignored him. Later at a cocktail party, someone from Kitchen Sink introduced us to him...and it was indeed R. Crumb. One of my most treasured possessions is the portrait he gave me that night. (Although, I'm fairly sure neither my boobs, nor my butt were quite as pronounced as he saw them. heh.)
posted by dejah420 at 7:33 PM on March 7, 2005

There was an interesting BBC interview with Crumb last year on his record collecting (and the above-mentioned compilation): Oct. 7 and Oct. 8.
posted by hyperizer at 7:34 PM on March 7, 2005

*takes a second look at dejah420's ass*
posted by greasy_skillet at 7:37 PM on March 7, 2005

People near Pittsburgh can see a lot of new and old stuff by Crumb at the Carnegie International exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art. It's open until the 20th.
posted by tss at 7:41 PM on March 7, 2005

As Robert Hughes has said elsewhere (and maybe here, I didn't read the appreciation closely) Crumb is the Hogarth of our age. His art reveals the seamy and prickly reality our brains filter out to...just get by in the world. The part I always remember from the movie is how he goes around and takes Polaroids of phone poles and power lines, just to accurately draw them, since they are so contortedly ugly, yet we refuse to even notice them in our day-to-day routine.
posted by bendybendy at 8:43 PM on March 7, 2005

I thought it was Brueghel?
posted by crunchland at 8:46 PM on March 7, 2005

I'm pretty sure it was Brueghel, too.
posted by interrobang at 10:02 PM on March 7, 2005

well, Daumier too. Though I don't get the Goya comparisons. Crumb strikes me as keeping his head above the water, whereas Goya gets beat down.
posted by bendybendy at 3:43 AM on March 8, 2005

Crumb is an iconic legend for sure. Watching the documentary, though, I couldn't help but be struck by things I didn't expect, like the fact that he really *does* have major issues with women and is quite frank about it.

Also, in some ways, especially as far as technique, his son is a better artist than he is. The scene in the documentary in which Crumb looks at his son's sketch and flippantly tells him what's wrong with it struck me as strange. Let's face it, Crumb's trademark crude crosshatching style suits him perfectly, but it hasn't developed since nineteen-sixty-something, and its simplicity has nothing of the charm of the similar inking of, say, Edward Gorey or Maurice Sendak.
posted by Shane at 6:30 AM on March 8, 2005

Watching the documentary, though, I couldn't help but be struck by things I didn't expect, like the fact that he really *does* have major issues with women and is quite frank about it.

Waitaminit, Shane - you didn't expect that Crumb would actually have major issues with women? How much Crumb have you read? (The HUP series is an excellent place to start for documentation of this particular dynamic.)

And I'll put the charm of Crumb's pen line up against Gorey and Sendak any day. (Not that it's particularly relevant, but Sendak is a whore.)

Anyway, thanks for the post, peacay. The main article is OK - and I suppose it's inevitable that when the "mainstream" covers something you know intimately and/or love, you tend to focus on the little things they get wrong - but I gotta ask, did this writer just learn Crumb's name last week or something?...

Mr Natural, a man desperate for spiritual transcendence but thwarted by physical desire, having sex with overgrown babies

No. It's Flakey Foont who is "desperate for spiritual transcendence but thwarted by physical desire." That's Flakey to a T. Mr. Natural, while yes, having sex with overgrown babies (one overgrown baby, fer chrissake - can't a man have sex with one overgrown baby!?!?) is more dispassionate, rarely if ever desperate or thwarted.

Charles spent his adult life at home with his mother, terrified of the outside world, and terrified of his longing for young boys. He killed himself in the mid-90s.

Er, yeah... right when the movie, showing the world how crazy he was, was about to come out. It's a touchy issue for Zwigoff, I know, but it is a pretty salient detail about his suicide, especially in a piece on how R. is handling his own fame.

It's been 30 years since they gave up drugs, and almost as long since they drank.

Well, this is news to anyone who reads their New Yorker comics, since the most recent one was all about Aline having just given up booze, and a French waitress teasing her about her reputation there as a hard drinker. Not exactly "almost as long" as 30 years. So I gotta wonder, what other things were misreported?
posted by soyjoy at 9:48 AM on March 8, 2005

Waitaminit, Shane - you didn't expect that Crumb would actually have major issues with women? How much Crumb have you read?

Hm. Obviously none of us, including the writer of the article, have read nearly as much Crumb as you have, soyjoy.

No, seriously, I haven't read that much, just a bit here and there. (Crumb and Pekar, especially Pekar, depressed me when I was a kid; Pekar was just too reality for me to handle.)

I guess when I read comics by Crumb like the one in which Mr Natural comes up with the perfect woman, that is, a woman with a buxom body and no head, I thought it was a satire of typical male chavinism. But Crumb just comes right out and admits his issues with no fear. And, in the documentary, "writer and feminist pop culture herstorian" Trina Robbins seems a little puzzled, but never truly offended, by her friend (acquaintenace?) R Crumb. It all just seemed surreal to me, the occasional peruser of Crumb's art.
And I still think his inking is a bit sloppy, and not always in a good way ;-)
posted by Shane at 11:32 AM on March 8, 2005

Seriously, Shane, I do recommend HUP both for insight into Crumb's troubles with women (e.g. the strip "My Troubles With Women") and for the incomparable Ruff Tuff Creampuffs comic. Oh, and of course Devil Girl vs. Flakey Foont.

Really, though, I'm not asking any reporter to be as Crumb-obsessed as his fans such as myself. I'm just asking for factual accuracy, maybe a little bit of checking into the story of Crumb - you know, reporting.

I've only read a couple of his Pekar strips here and there - never quite got what Crumb saw in the guy. (So see, there's some Crumb I haven't read!)

And no, it's always in a good way! Gorey has a great sense of humor and composition, but his pen line is relentlessly effete; it never varies into vigor or crudity. He reminds me of Charles Addams after giving too much blood or something. And Sendak, as I noted previously, is a whore. So my boy Crumb remains on the top of the heap once again! Ha HAaaa!
posted by soyjoy at 7:24 AM on March 9, 2005

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