Robert Crumb Susan Goodrick

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Susan Goodrick

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

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Crumb loves to use his satirical touch to strip … people naked. He gets them all—from the spiritualist who would give it all up for a good lay to the inept politico who spouts off about revolution while using his girlfriend as a footstool. He goes after hucksters who prey on the frightened and confused, the self-righteous leaders who claim they have The Only Answer or hold the secret to The True Way.

For Crumb, there is no true way, no simple all purpose solution. He sends his characters looking for meaning in life. They try everything: sex, drugs, vegetarianism, religion, spiritualism, politics, despair, gurus, and soaking in bathtubs. But they generally only get ripped off, a case of V.D., or badly wrinkled skin for their trouble. At worst, they are raped or killed. At best, they learn that single minded solutions don't work and that seeking answers from a leader is only degrading and self-defeating.

Crumb saves his most vicious satire for himself. He has drawn himself as a sex-crazed sadist, sentimental slob, and naive hayseed. (p. 12)

Crumb's best satires are those based on his own experiences. He was a dutiful, neurotic Whiteman until he ran away to the Haight-Asbury, with its hippies, blacks, radicals, hustlers, feminists, and gurus. Being close to his material gave him the insight that allowed him to aim his barbs with such devastating accuracy….

Crumb's Catholic experience made him ripe for the revolt of the sixties. He was naturally attracted by its disdain for authority, its rejection of standardization and repression. The violence and sexual fantasies in his work are not pornography; they are an attack on the "straight" culture's dictum that sex and anger are to be kept in tight rein at all costs. His Whiteman was the model that the middle class drop-outs of the Haight had been offered and had rejected. (p. 13)

Susan Goodrick, "Apex Interview: Robert Crumb," in The Apex Treasury of Underground Comics, edited by Susan Goodrick and Don Donahue (© copyright 1974 by Apex Novelties; reprinted by permission of Music Sales Corporation), Links Books, 1974, pp. 11-15.

[The Yum Yum Book is] sure book bait for kids who have even just heard of Fritz the Cat, not to mention any who catch a glimpse of the full color book length comic strips, bright red cover, promising frivolity. This time Crumb's collegiate hero is a toad named Oggie who is transported by beanstalk to an idyllic planet where he falls for a nude, saftig teenage girl who wants only to eat him. And bracketing all the voracious flesh there is just a bit of yeasty commentary on affairs back home. As the author says "I've changed a lot and so has my work but this does have a certain innocent charm"—we'll concede an undeniable energy, anyway.

"Young Adult Fiction: 'The Yum Yum Book'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1975 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLIII, No. 19, October 1, 1975, p. 1137.