Robert Crumb Jacob Brackman - Essay

Jacob Brackman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Zap #1 and #0 are 100 percent Crumb, as are several Rip Off numbers, like Big Ass Comix ("Weird Sex Fantasies with the Behind in Mind"). Motor City Comix (featuring Lenore Goldberg, a kind of feminist Trashman) and the magnificent Despair. Having assimilated, it seems, the entire history of comics (with perhaps special emphasis on Barney Google, Orphan Annie, early Popeye, Dick Tracy, Pogo and the Katzenjammers), Crumb is by now a one-man band of cartooning….

Crumb's preoccupations and, therefore, his subject matter, have varied as wildly as [Bob] Dylan's over the several years of his published career. More than any of his predecessors, he's concerned with what Russian novelists liked to call "the eternal questions." Yet he also manages to stand apart from his own desperation. This duality emerges in the testy association of hung-up Flakey Foont and the spiritually arrogant, self-appointed guru Mr. Natural. Now, Mr. Natural may be a moocher and a phony, but he certainly knows some things Flakey doesn't. Theirs is doubtless the most complicated relationship ever developed in a comic….

Crumb's characters get horny, goofy, pretentious, mean—everything real people get. Of all cartoonists, he is the most eclectic, the most fertile and the easiest to get into. His cartoons are the friendliest, the uppest. Every one of comics' age-old mannerisms reappears in them:...

(The entire section is 424 words.)