It’s too darn late for anyone to read this before the end of the day , but I only found out a minute ago.
Robert Crumb is one of the corners of the universe as far as I’m concerned. One of those few cartoonists who is considered a proper “artist” in every sense of the word, even by sensible adult people. His brilliant illustrations, and mind boggling writing style were an indelible influence on me when I was a teenager, and he still swims in my DNA somewhere under all the super-hero work I’ve done over the years.
I’m fairly sure this poster is the first R. Crumb work I ever saw, and to be honest I hated it at the time. I was probably twelve or thirteen, and it was hanging on the wall of a friend’s brother’s room. The brother probably smoked weed, and I thought very little of people who did that in the 70s, strong pubescent moral crusader that I was…
His magnificent album cover for Janis Joplin’s CHEAP THRILLS was the first time I saw his work and knew his name. I probably didn’t know it was the same guy who did the stoned poster, frankly. But Janis Joplin meant quite a bit to me at the same age. It was just dawning on me that I wanted to be a musician when I grew up, and here was a singer who could belt it like no one alive. And since I was always into comics, I dug the way-out groovy cover art….SIGNED by someone named R. Crumb.
By the time I’d discovered Fritz the Cat I was done for. I’m not sure if this was my first copy of Fritz (I think it was a backup story in an issue of something else), but I began to absorb Crumb like oxygen for the rest of the 70s. Mr. Natural, Shuman the Human, Meatball, Zap…I needed it all, yesterday. There was something utterly unique in what Crumb did, even amongst the Undergrounds, he was alone in his field. The art was unparalleled in complexity and skill, the stories were unrelentingly raw, filthy, clever, subtle, absurd. Some of his comics were gentle and touching tales of humanity, others were brutal pieces about incest, rape, bestiality, betrayal, decay and rot. Most of them were hysterically funny, all of them were interesting.
I hated that “Keep on Trucking” and the inexcusably bad film adaptation of Fritz the Cat were what the public thought of him back then. But those of us who kept up with him through the years knew better.
So HAPPY BIRTHDAY R. Crumb. Probably one of the ten most important cartoonists of the last hundred years, and certainly one of my favorite creators walking the earth. Keep it up, and I’ll keep on trucking along with you.
Ty the Guy OUT!
Here now, your BONUS TEMPLETON/CRUMB MOMENT:
This is the first comic book I ever contributed to: Vortex #5…