Robert Crumb

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Robert Crumb (2014)

Robert Crumb (born August 30, 1943 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania ) is an artist , illustrator and musician . Crumb is one of the most important authors of the underground comics movement ("comix"), which emerged in the USA in the mid-1960s . Crumb has lived in France since the mid-1990s . He signed with “R. Crumb ".

life and work

Crumb grew up in difficult family circumstances: his father retired from the United States Marine Corps after World War II and was irascible and violent; his mother was often in psychiatric treatment. In his early twenties, Crumb lived in Cleveland , Ohio with his first wife, Dana Morgan Crumb, and drew greeting cards for American Greetings . Encouraged by the reaction to some of his comics and drawings that he had published in underground newspapers, including Philadelphia's Yarrowstalkes , Crumb moved to San Francisco , the center of the flower power movement , in 1967 . Urban Gwerder published first publications in Europe in his magazine Hotcha . Initially he sold psychedelic posters, most of which were sold in so-called head shops - in 1967 Charles Plymell printed the first issue of Zap Comix .

Crumb draws on the work of artists from previous generations. Influences on Robert Crumb's drawing style were Billy DeBeck ( Barney Google ), CE Brock (old story book illustrator), Gene Ahern's comic strips, the characters from the Merrie Melodies of the 1930s, Sidney Smith ( The Gumps ), EC Segar ( Popeye ) and called Reg Davis . Crumb used an antiquated cartoon style to create satirical stories that were sexually and politically offensive. It soon attracted a number of artists who were delighted with the opportunity to publish countercultural comic books. Crumb later shared Zap's pages with artists such as Spain Rodriguez , Rick Griffin , S. Clay Wilson, and Gilbert Shelton .

In magazines like Zap and in many other titles, Crumb, also inspired by LSD , created comic characters that became icons of the anti- establishment . The best known of these characters included Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural . Crumb's work was suddenly in high demand in the mid-1960s, and Crumb became an anti-establishment icon . He refused to 'sell' himself and even turned down lucrative contracts. For example, he designed the front cover for Janis Joplin's album Cheap Thrills and the font for the album I Got Dem Ol 'Kozmic Blues Again Mama! . However, he declined to design a cover for an album by the Rolling Stones because he did not like their music. Ralph Bakshi made a cartoon of Fritz the Cat (the first adult-only cartoon) in 1972 , and the film became a commercial success. But Crumb disliked the film so much that he had the character killed in one of his strips in 1972 by an ostrich woman with an ice pick in the head.

1990s and later

A theatrical production based on his work was produced at Duke University in the early 1990s, directed by Johnny Simons and starring Nicholas de Wolff and Avner Eisenberg, known primarily in the US as Avner the Eccentric. Crumb directed the elaboration of the play himself. He also created the set by drawing larger-than-life depictions of his famous characters across the floor and walls of the stage.

In the early 1990s, Crumb, his wife Aline Kominsky-Crumb (also a well-known underground draftsman) and his daughter moved to Sauve , a small community in the Gard department in southern France. He plays the banjo and mandolin in a band called Les Primitifs du futur .

In autumn 2009, after four years of work, Crumb presented his version of the Bible ( Genesis ). This Genesis is considered the first book of their Holy Scriptures for Jews and the first book of the Old Testament for Christians. In addition to the drawings, the captions from several versions of the Bible were also adapted according to Crumb's understanding. " The Book of Genesis ILLUSTRATED " (by R. Crumb / All 50 Chapters) was also published in German in November 2009 under the title " Robert Crumbs Genesis ". The text parts of the German edition closely follow the Luther Bible from 1912. In 2012, Crumb's Genesis was part of the SZ Library Graphic Novels .


Readers and critics of Crumb's work commented this very differently. A number of respected literary figures see his art as accomplished and at the same time subversive satire and compare him to Rabelais . Others find his drawings pornographic, racist and misogynistic. Crumb himself has admitted that he suffers from an abnormal "fear of women" and that much of his work is indeed aimed at adults. One notorious issue of Zap featured a satirical story by Crumb about a household that demonstrates family cohesion through incest. This led to the persecution of at least one comic book store for profanity. In the Federal Republic of Germany, some of his comics were indexed by the Federal Inspectorate for Media Harmful to Young People (at that time the Federal Inspectorate for Writings Harmful to Young People) and were therefore only available to a very limited extent. These indexes are now barred.

In 1999 he won the Grand Prix de la Ville d'Angoulême at the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d'Angoulême .

1994 appeared documentary Crumb by Terry Zwigoff .

Another cinematic perpetuation of Crumb is in the film American Splendor of 2003 to see the Crumbs friend Harvey Pekar is.

In autumn 2002 the exhibition “The many faces of ROBERT CRUMB” opened in the Krems Caricature Museum. In 2004 the Museum Ludwig , Cologne, dedicated an exhibition to him with the title “Yeah, but is it art?”.

In August 2010, Crumb received a Harvey Award for The Book of Genesis .


Crumb is a collector of old 78s shellac records , of which he owned over 5,000 in 2004.

One focus of his collection is country blues , Crumb has also often provided cover illustrations for re-releases of classic blues recordings (e.g. “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of”), as well as for book covers (“King of the Delta Blues: The Life and Music of Charlie Patton ”) and even a blues musician card game. Crumb also illustrated songs and biographies of blues musicians, such as B. by Charley Patton .

In 2003, his collection became the source for Hot Women Singers from the Torrid Regions of the World , a compilation of world music from Mexico, Cuba, Turkey, Burma, and Tahiti. Except for two, all 24 tracks were recorded between 1927 and 1934.


Web links

Commons : Robert Crumb  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Saur general artist lexicon . tape 22 . Saur Verlag, Munich / Leipzig 1999, ISBN 3-598-22762-0 , pp. 475 .
  2. Jörg Böckem: Interview with Robert Crumb, Kulturspiegel , September 2013, p. 46
  3. ^ SZ Library Graphic Novels II. 2012, accessed on November 1, 2012 .
  4. ^ Racial Imagery, Racism, Individualism, and Underground Comix. 2004, accessed April 5, 2013 .
  5. The many faces of the ROBERT CRUMB. (No longer available online.), September 29, 2002, archived from the original on June 15, 2013 ; Retrieved April 5, 2013 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. ^ The stuff that dreams are made of. (No longer available online.), 2000, archived from the original on January 12, 2013 ; accessed on April 5, 2013 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /