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R. Crumb: Conversations (Conversations with Comic Artists Series) Paperback – May 17, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Robert Crumb is best known as the father of underground comics and a leading chronicler of the hippie scene, but he has progressed far beyond his sixties-based fame. His work now appears in the New Yorker and other upscale publications--a far cry from the cheaply printed, hand-stapled comic books he once hawked on the streets of San Francisco. New collections of interviews with Crumb limn a complex artist even more provocative than the eccentric outsider seen in the acclaimed documentary film Crumb. The 18 pieces in conversations track Crumb's entire career. Earliest is a 1968 Berkeley Barb article, in which the "Hasbury cartoonist" relates his comics' recent "bust" by "the Man" for obscenity. The most penetrating entries come from fanzines and other alternative publications, yet even those from such mainstream sources as the Los Angeles Times are vivid, entertaining, and informative--journalists apparently can't go wrong with Crumb. The most recent talks disclose a much older but still feisty, iconoclastic artist who has fled the American society he'd long scorned to live with his family in a small French village. Although the cartoonist is notoriously shy and allegedly misanthropic, he comes across as congenial, articulate, and, above all, unabashedly candid, in fascinating contrast to the self-loathing curmudgeon of his autobiographical stories. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

In this collection of interviews that spans from the late 1960s to the beginning of the twenty-first century, the comic artist proves to be iconoclastic, opinionated, and impervious to the commercial moods of the public

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Product Details

  • Series: Conversations with Comic Artists Series
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (May 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578066379
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578066377
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,978,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By amulet on September 1, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Poor ol' Robert Crumb, reluctantly labeled father of the underground comic movement has moved to France with his lovely, comely and protectant wife.

These conversations help the reader get into Crumb's head. They give an autobiographical and historical perspective of Crumb, from his harsh family atmosphere to when he escaped from a greeting card company to find the summer of love in California.

Many have been offended by what he has produced. He is an artist and as an artist he does what he is supposed to do; make you look at the (our) world in a different way.

These conversations give the reader the opportunity to be an auteur into the artistic psyche. Whether you believe Crumb is an artist or not, he was there; he saw, he came (in more ways than one) and he went away. It's a fascinating read and brings you closer to him. (It is impossible to meet him. Don't bother him in France and he no longer does any tours/talks-too busy drawing!)

It is worth it to have reviewed or be familiar with some of his comic work if you have not done so already. (Where have you been?) There are many sources on the Internet as well as published to accomplish this.

These conversations begin in the 60's and break into the 21st Century. I look forward to the next conversations, if he allows them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on March 19, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So says R. Crumb (p. 163) from a 1989 interview included in this intriguing collection of conversations with him (including one joint conversation with Crumb and his wife-occasional collaborator Aline Kominsky). Part of the University of Mississippi's Conversations with Comic Artists series, the collection contains 18 interviews with Crumb. They first was conducted when he was 24, the last in his 59th year (Crumb turns 65 this year, hard as it is to believe!).

The interviews shed a lot of light on what makes Crumb tick. In them, he discusses his miserable childhood, growing up as the son of a career Marine and a diet-pill popping mom. The family moved a lot (following the dad's career), the parents fought constantly, the three brothers (there were also two sisters, about which almost nothing is said except that one once broke a banjo over Crumb's head) were all unbelievably dysfunctional although also arguably geniuses. Crumb finally escapes the family, gets a job at the American Greeting Card Corporation, marries, moves to San Francisco, drops LSD, and almost overnight, his creative juices flowing, becomes the "father of underground comics."

Crumb's journey from hippie hero to serious social satirist, confessional comics artist, and family man (sort of) is chronicled interview-by- interview. Always a deliberate outsider, a despiser of corporate America and the "artsy" crowd, Crumb has even separated himself from his own work whenever he's sensed that it was becoming mainstream: Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural (although he's recently put out a Mr. Natural Mystic Comic), the obnoxious "Keep on Truckin'" slogan.

In many ways, Crumb has been one of the most perceptive--and surely one of the most honest--voices of my lifetime.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bruce P. Barten on November 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Freudians should read this book. Crumb has a very modern set of aversions. Instead of doing a pamphlet for Planned Parenthood, he says, "But it's political. I don't know how I feel about all that. It's all so complicated." (p. 68). The topics discussed in this book cover the psychic interior, and the corporate entities have subtle names, as in, "Nevertheless, Last Gasp has gone on to become the second largest underground publisher in the country." [back in 1974, when eight hundred dollars covered printing costs for an underground title] (p. 93). R. CRUMB CONVERSATIONS (2004) has an index (which only has boldface listings for 6 pages showing cartoon characters, and it should've had boldface for Lenore Goldberg on p. 193 and Crumb as character on p. 198) on pages 233-244, and the Chronology on pages xiii-xxii includes such great years as 1993:

"Crumb illustrates INTRODUCING KAFKA. Summer: The last issue of WEIRDO (No. 28) is edited by Aline. June: THE COMPLETE DIRTY LAUNDRY COMICS is published. R. CRUMB SKETCHBOOK, May 1987 to April 1991 is published. Fall: A Crumb wall calendar for 1994 is published. November: R. Crumb Retrospective is shown at Alexander Gallery, New York City. Kitchen Sink issues a Mr. Natural squeeze doll."

Four pages in the index are devoted to Crumb's views and works. For example, on page 235 you can find:

on Fritz the Cat, 120, 212-13; on Fritz the Cat (movie), 12-13, 28, 57-61, 174;

But anyone who is in the part of the index devoted to Crumb's works will notice that Works on page 236 begins with THE ADVENTURES OF FRITZ THE CAT (Cavalier), xvi; and includes eight lines of listings of other Fritz the Cat characters in the second column on page 237, up to "Fritz the Cat Superstar," 174, 213.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mike Fitz on September 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I grew up reading the original underground comics that Robert Crumb was creating.
His work is obviously not for everyone, but then that's true of all artists with a unique vision.
This book is a chronologically ordered series of interviews which spans most of Crumb's career. There's something about hearing (mentally) the words of someone whose work interests me, that I find really fascinating.
If you feel the same way you will enjoy this. There is quite a bit of repetition, as some of the interviewers tend to cover, some of the same territory.
I do recommend seeing the film "Crumb" before reading this. It makes it so much easier to imagine R. sitting there when you have been exposed to his voice and mannerisms. At least as he was when the film was produced.
Interesting stuff.
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