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This charming book-length comix (or what we now call a "graphic novel") isn't R. Crumb's earliest work, but it is his first major production. Written/drawn when he was 19 and 20, Big Yum Yum Book is a fractured fairy tale that incorporates parts of traditional yarns such as Jack & the Beanstalk and The Princess & Her Frog Suiter. But even as a very young man, Crumb manages to put a distinctive spin on the tale. For all its charm, there's a slightly dark underbelly to the tale that points to themes in the later Crumb. Big Yum Yum Book, then, is Crumb in utero.
The continuity is fascinating. Crumb's earliest comix work, drawn under the inspiration (and supervision) of Charles Crumb, the older, genius, and tragic brother, has tamer versions of many of the animal characters in Yum Yum. Moreover, at least two of Yum Yum's characters reappear in the later Crumb's work as Fritz the Cat, Fred the teen-age girl pigeon, and the Silly Pidgeons (sic). The incredulous and sneering facial expression, the wide-open aghast eyes, the attention to detail: all of these Crumb trademark visuals are apparent in Yum Yum.
So are trademark themes. The hero of the tale, a toad named Oggie, is alienated, unable to fit into either the intellectual world, the artistic/bohemian one, or the business/commercial one. He seeks to escape a world in which he feels like an outsider, and eventually discovers one that's empty of annoying people--save for a plump, big-bummed girl named Guntra with whom he immediately becomes sexually/romantically obsessed, but who only wants to devour the love-struck toad. The character Guntra is drawn in softer tones than Crumb will later depict his ideal women, and he wonderfully manages to combine tender innocence and steamy eroticism in his depictions of her.Read more ›
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Crumb's "The Yum Yum Book" is quite different from what the average Crumb fan has come to expect from the gangly, bespeckled cartoonist. "The Yum Yum Book" was written when Crumb was 19, around the time he met his first wife, but wasn't published until some years later, 1975 I believe. The story is your basic love story much in the same tradition as The Princess and the Frog with a dash of Jack and the Beanstalk thrown in. The content is very tame compared to Crumb's later work and is actually quite sweet and, dare I say, wholesome. The characters include a giant (literally) apple-cheeked woman whom the pathetic, misunderstood frog falls head over heels in love with although she tries many times to eat him. The woman is portrayed very much in the way that Crumb draws them now; she is very strong with large, powerful legs and prominent buttocks. The frog, Oggie, finds her at once menacing and extremelly attractive. I won't spoil the ending for you, instead I'll just say that the illustrations and the colors are rich and very well-done. This book was also refered to briefly in the classic documentary "Crumb".
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Born in Philadelphia, R. Crumb is the author of numerous comic works and one of the pioneers of underground comics. His books include Kafka, The Complete Crumb Comics (17 volumes), The R. Crumb Sketchbook (10 volumes), R. Crumb Draws the Blues, The Book of Mr. Natural, The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb, and many more. He lives in the south of France with his wife, the artist Aline Kominsky-Crumb.