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The Grumpy Old Man

I had a $25 Barnes & Noble giftcard burning in my pocket recently (thanks to Christopher), so I spent it on a book that I’d been wanting to check out for a while — The R. Crumb Handbook by R. Crumb and Peter Poplaski. It’s quite a unique little book, a compact and chunky hardback that serves as part autobiography, part art book (oh, and it comes with a CD of his old-timey music, too). While the text seems patchy, Crumb writes in a refreshingly candid, self-deprecating tone completely in line with his art. It seems like his life is constantly guided by things that both fascinate and disgust him: his childhood interest in kiddie pop culture, his period with San Francisco’s hippie subculture, his weird sexual fetishes. Neat excerpts from throughout his comics career illustrate his ramblings, scrapbook style. As for the samples, I was surprised to find that his celebrated Zap Comix stuff is actually … flat and uninvolving (guess you have to be on drugs to fully appreciate them). The area where he truly shines lies in the painfully autobiographical work he did in the ’70s and ’80s. For any Crumb newbie, this one comes highly recommended.

One Thought on “The Grumpy Old Man

  1. Yeah, I agree…Crumb’s art and ideas got better in the 80s…and he’s still “doing the job” in the most unlikely places…last summer he did a one-off drawing for the LA Times editorial page.

    Crumb also did a piece back in ’86 called “The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick” and the whole thing has been placed online…


    If you haven’t seen it in a while, his bio-pic “Crumb” is always worth watching…his older brother Charles was (hard to believe) even more crazed and talented than him

    thanks, Matt

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