Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Robert Crumb, American Artist

People have mixed feelings about Crumb. Some call him an asshole, a jerk, a purveyor of pornography and juvenile crap, a sexist pig, a curmudgeon, a nape, a loon, a gelatinous lifeform with an unbridled id, a sicko, a creep, and a con artist. He may be all those things. Still, he's the best cartoonist of the last century, perhaps forever. He is our Daumier, and he works with an unflinching eye, a steady hand and gently flowing nib. Crumb spills his unconscious directly to the page without regard for puritan mores, or even common decency, yet art critic Robert Hughes called him "the Breughel of the 20th century."

Q: When was the last time a work of art made you cry?

A: I don't cry too easily. It must have been a long, long time ago because I really don't remember. Aline, on the other hand -- she cries at almost every movie. They manipulate her very easily.

Q: Where do you feel most at home?

A: In my room. With my stuff. My record collection. My artwork. My desk. My letter files. My photo files. My photocopy machine. When we moved to France, I basically just moved my room to France. Wherever I am, I just want to be in my room. If we had to live in Peking, China, I'd still be in my room.

Q: When are you most happy?

A: When I'm fulfilling my sex fantasies. When I listen to music that makes me ecstatic. I won't go into details, but my old '78 records give me musical ecstasy. There are also moments I've had with loved ones, with Aline and my daughter, that make me very happy.

Here is a documentary called "The Confessions of Robert Crumb" that might give you some clues about the artist. This is not the Terry Zwigoff doc, "Crumb," but an earlier film. Warning: this contains language as it is spoken, and viewpoints some will find offensive. Be forewarned.


Recently, Crumb finished illustrating Genesis, the first book of the Bible. According to his website, Genesis comes in at 201 pages. He also finished the cover, an introduction, the commentary (for the back sleeve) and a Map, which will be in the beginning of the book. The book is going to production and it's planned to be released this fall.

a sketch from the Genesis project

And what are his plans now that Genesis is complete? Catching up on his correspondence, he says, which has been building up for some time now. And then take a little break—a trip to the States. He and Aline are talking about collaborating on a book upon his return, but that's later this summer. For now, enjoy these clips. Heaven will have to wait.

Interview from March 2007, SF Gate. To read the complete chat click here.

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