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The Book of Mr. Natural Hardcover – July 6, 2010

25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Mr. Natural is a 1960s guru, "th' only knower of th' cosmic mysteries alive at this time." Calling him a "mystic madcap" gives the crass, less-than-compassionate charlatan the benefit of the doubt. He is not particularly wise or helpful; in fact, he's a lecherous, grumbling old geezer who gives advice such as "When you arise in the morning, you should do last night's dirty dishes . . . then you should sing a simple melody (of your own choice) . . . then you should call somebody up (not me) . . . then go to the store . . . buy some asparagus." True to the collection's name and R. Crumb's reputation, the stories are sometimes sexually graphic (especially in the scenes with Devil Girl) and a bit on the violent side. Still, there's an innocent, upbeat quality to this comic reflection of America's most notoriously freewheeling decade. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Seminal underground comics artist Crumb has lately gained wider recognition, thanks to an acclaimed documentary about him. Libraries wanting some representative Crumb in the wake of the movie may be better served by this single volume featuring one of his most famous creations than by the multivolume reprinting of all of his work that Fantagraphics has about half-completed. The bearded, robed, curmudgeonly guru Mr. Natural hasn't changed much since his 1967 debut. An ever-serene-but-horny philosopher-for-hire, dispensing enlightenment to an undeserving world--is he a wise, grizzled mystic or a cynical charlatan? A teller of timeless truths or a sixties anachronism? Wherever he appears, so do his most loyal acolyte, Flakey Foont, and his obsession, the lusty Devil Girl. The collection constitutes a sheer delight for those who have followed the Natch's exploits over the years, yet it is completely accessible to nonaficionados--at least those undaunted by the raunchiness that is another thing that hasn't changed since the sage's early days. Gordon Flagg --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics; 1 edition (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606993526
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606993521
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.7 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,008,508 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on April 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If--perish the thought!--all of R. Crumb's work except his Mr Natural comix were lost to humankind, we'd still have what I take to be his most important legacy. An entire college course could be taught--probably HAS been taught somewhere--with the Mr Natural comix as texts.

Mr Natural is a guru who does exactly what good gurus ought to do: he shakes us up by refusing to act like we think holy people should act. He has a roving eye for the ladies, he cusses, at times he appears heartless or indifferent, and the advice he offers--when he does offer it, which isn't all that often--frequently comes across as whacky. He's so irreverent that it's easy to see him as irrelevant. But nothing could be further from the truth, because Mr Natural is like one of those Taoist sages who, dressed in rags and laughing uproariously, serve as living reminders for the rest of us not to take ourselves, our lifestyles, and our values so seriously. Self-honesty is what Mr Natural wants from us.

As Flakey Foont discovers over and over in the Mr Natural comix, though, self-honesty is hard to come by, because self-deception feels so damn good, especially to us "booshwah" types. We deceive ourselves all the time about our seething sexual desires ("Mr Natural stops Talking," "The Girlfriend," and the marvelous Devil Girl stories). We deceive ourselves about our piety, pretending that what we want to believe is what we should believe ("Mr Natural Goes to a Meeting of the Minds," "Om Sweet Om," and "Sittin' Around the Kitchen Table"). We deceive ourselves about work and ambition ("It's a workaday World") and, in one of the best two stories in this volume, we deceive ourselves when we think about God ("Mr Natural Meets 'The Kid'").
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
It's said that chairman Mao was going to put Mr. Natural on the cover of his little red book along with his quotations but Nixon nixed the deal saying it would reveal too many secrets about America.
Robert Crumb has an uncanny way of telling the absolute truth. Mr. Natural is as natural as we may all be if it were not for the hang-ups that our parents and teachers impose upon us as children. He tells the truth as it really is - and how is that you say? Well one of the most important truths is not to forget whatever it was you were supposed to remember... and if you do... well just make it up!
After all... twas ever thus!
Excellent collection of Mr Natural's adventures thru life - a must have for anyone who used to say cool but will probably go over the head of anyone who says kewl.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andrew C Wheeler VINE VOICE on January 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I don't know if I have anything coherent or meaningful to say about R. Crumb's THE BOOK OF MR. NATURAL, the collected stories of a character who is very much a product of a very specific time -- and that time was before I was born. Mr. Natural is described on the back cover as a "bearded, robed, curmudgeonly guru," but, really, he was just one in a long line of Crumb stand-ins, embodying one particular part of Crumb's own psyche to make particular points about contemporary society. Natural was the hippie side of Crumb, I suppose, forever disdaining all kinds of restraints, seeking mystical guidance from supernatural forces of one kind or another, and, most centrally, nakedly questioning the point of life and what, if anything, we're supposed to do with ourselves while we're alive. He does this, most usually, in pseudo-Socratic dialogues with Flakey Foont -- yes, these characters were conceived in the late '60s, and that permeates everything about them -- who is just as stereotyped an "Establishment" "square" "straight man" as Natural is a stereotype old hippie. (Though Crumb did anticipate what the real hippies would turn into, a couple of decades ahead.) I find it all a bit sad and woolly-headed, forty years later, but I am a well-known grump with no soul; more spiritually-oriented folks are likely to get more out of Natural's antics than I do.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kirk McElhearn VINE VOICE on April 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I was in high school in the early 1970s, a candy store a few blocks from the school sold Zap comics, though the owner kept them hidden. This helped me discover the wacky world of Robert Crumb, and the many other artists whose work was in Zap (notably Gilbert Shelton, and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers). Reading this recently brought back some memories of that lost time, but the later stories in the book leave a lot to be desired. As with much of this work - and the same is true with Shelton - there was a brief period when these artists were able to capture the time, but as years passed, they kept on repeating themselves, and their work ends up like aging hippies.

It's a fun read, but it's not Crumb's best work. However, it does bring back good memories.

If only I had save those original Zap comics and other underground comics I had back then...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A selection that's missing many of the best Mr Natural stories. Any Crumb collection is worthwhile, but as "THE Book of Mr. Natural" this disappoints.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Cutlip on October 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not for the squeamish, certainly not for feminists, but definitely for those of us who cut our alternative teeth on underground comics. More odd than funny, but funnier still than anything on television these days. Great drawing lessons for anyone looking to dip into the genre.
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