Robert Crumb J. D. O'Hara - Essay

J. D. O'Hara

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The] best young comics-makers, Robert Crumb and Vaughn Bodé, aren't sick and dirty; they're gross and funny. Their grossness takes the form of four-letter words and more or less naked women … or animals. So what's new? The grossness is new. In our day, gentlemen of the jury, those words and that nakedness were dirty; they generated sniggers and sidelong looks. Grossness is better. Laughing is better than leering.

As for the humor, well, it's television humor, I suppose, but it works. In the second of Fritz the Cat's three stories, Fritz is a C.I.A. agent ordered to discover the new Chinese ultimate weapon. The James Bond gags are okay, but when Fritz is captured and thrown before "Captain Stin Ki Chin Ki … Head of Seclet Porice Folce! Most fealed man in arr of China!" and he says, "Gleetings, paper tiger Amelican! Terr us, what has blought you to Peking?" then the reader can relax, knowing he's in safe hands. All the old heroes come back, blessedly transmogrified, as Fritz meets "Su-Su, Chinee sex bomb and beautiful temptress … No man can lesist my charms!" Silliness, sure, but silly satire, and satire demands a relatively bright audience.

The best of the three stories …, and one of the best things ever written/drawn about Today's Youth, is "Fritz Bugs Out," in which hip college-boy Fritz loses his girl, drops out, gets involved in social issues and the race problem … hides from the police, heads...

(The entire section is 402 words.)