Monday, September 1, 2008


This documentary about R. Crumb is a portrait of a deeply disturbed family. He and his two brothers (the two sisters declined to be filmed) manifest different symptoms yet all reflect the intense and difficult childhood milieu they shared. Their father was abusive and had a hair-trigger temper, and their mother took amphetamines habitually.

R. Crumb is the healthiest of the three. His brother Max was a sex offender and is now a yogi of sorts. His brother Charles was an unemployed recluse with homicidal fantasies, living with his mother. He committed suicide a year after the movie was made.

Robert maintains a relationship and has a daughter and son, and his hostilities are embodied in his work.

I remember vividly seeing my first Zap Comix issue, given to me by my sister Robyn. It was intensely sexual and clearly came from the lowest and crudest aspect of human sexual imagination, not clean animal nature, but the distorted bestiality of which only humans are capable.
I loved it at the time and I still enjoy his audacity and wonderful imagery. Today, though I find it more disturbing than I did then. Still, Whiteman Comix was a great one, where the uptight white dude ends up with a yeti girlfriend whom he dresses in mini skirts. The absurdity of an overly sanitized culture is very clearly parodied.
His work was fresh and liberating, looking straight at the darker side of humanity.

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