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The R. Crumb Handbook Hardcover – May 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From the mountains of Southern France where he currently lives and works, pop artist R. Crumb makes a grand entrance back to the publishing world with The R. Crumb Handbook. Part biography, part comic book, and part media critique, the latest Crumb book is a feast indeed. In addition to numerous reprints of Crumb comic hits like Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural, the book also features new works by Crumb, including a hilarious dialogue between the artist and his wife. (Both Crumb's wife and daughter are comic book artists.) Fans already familiar with Crumb’s comic book work will rejoice at the glossy reprints of Crumb oil paintings and sculptures, complete with gallery-owner narratives about working with the artist. There are also record covers reprints that Crumb has drawn over the years, as well as a CD of songs by the artist’s traditional band, R. Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders. But more important, the Handbook helps provide a window into the man himself.

In fact the more you read The R. Crumb Handbook the more you start to understand Crumb is really a political cartoonist, challenging stereotypes, cultural norms, and the media. U.S. media in particular has had a powerful and profound impact on Crumb. Readers will learn what TV shows and books inspired Crumb, the state of comics in the 1960s versus today, the media’s effect on day-to-day life, and what other comics served as models for Crumb in his own work. Artists like Jack Davis, John Stanley, Carl Barks, and the late Will Eisner made powerful impressions on Crumb about what comics could achieve. Crumb offers up some interesting insight into comics during the Great Depression (e.g., Dick Tracy and Superman) and explains how many of these comics mirrored the era and encouraged readers to "fight on" even during tough times. The R. Crumb Handbook is a solid piece of work, not only giving us a glimpse into the artist, but serving as a great read for old and new fans alike. --Pat Kearney

  • Listen to an exclusive track from R. Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders
  • Read an interview with R. Crumb


    Exclusive Images from the R.Crumb Handbook
    Spoiler Alert: View at Your Own Risk!

    Build Your R. Crumb Library


    The Complete Crumb Comics Vol. 19

    Complete Crumb Comics

    Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me: Robert Crumb Letters 1958-1977

    The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat

    The R. Crumb Sketchbook Vol. 8: Early 1971 to Mid 1972

    R. Crumb's Kafka

    Crumb in Other Universes


    Crumb (DVD)

    The Confessions of Robert Crumb (DVD)

    The R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book

  • From Publishers Weekly

    Starred Review. Since the mid-'60s, cartoonist Crumb's artwork has been among the most recognizable in the annals of pop culture; his catalogue of characters like Mr. Natural and Fritz the Cat are as indelibly tied to their era as LSD and the Vietnam conflict. Crumb's true story is every bit as compelling a chronicle of his times as the provocative illustrations that emerged from his prolific pen. Many books have detailed his career, but this handsome volume is a must for the interested reader. It's a riveting autobiography that illuminates the artist's lifetime of foibles, sexual neuroses, cynicism regarding the spotlight of fame and his perceived status in the world of comics art, flavored with observations by several artists, writers and social theorists. The 400-plus pages fly by as the reader is dragged into the head of a troubled creative genius for an odyssey through a landscape of scabrous, politically incorrect caricatures of modern society that cast the bespectacled misfit in the reluctant role of a millennial Hogarth or Brueghel. Packed with photographs and some of Crumb's best known comics—including much explicit and inflammatory material—this is perhaps the most accessible and just plain fun of the multitude of Crumb histories. The book includes a CD of music by Crumb's bands, including the Cheap Suit Serenaders. (May)
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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    Product Details

    • Hardcover: 440 pages
    • Publisher: M Q Publications; 1st edition (May 1, 2005)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1840727160
    • ISBN-13: 978-1840727166
    • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.8 x 7.5 inches
    • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,042 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

    22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By D. Sean Brickell on April 22, 2005
    Format: Hardcover
    Forget comix. R. Crumb is amongst the most brutally honest writiers in any genre, ever! What is more, when we look at his dead-on observations of himself, what we really see are universal characteristics about ourselves. If you laugh at Mr. Crumb, you better make doggone sure you ain't taking your-own-self too seriously.

    There isn't anyway to begin describing this book. Each page jumps up and slaps your around equally. Lots of our old favorites are included, but the thing that is most vital to me as a reader are the solutions Mr. Crumb proposes. Like it or no, he has a keen sense of life's fairness, inequities, balance and absurdity.

    Anyone can bitch, few can propose workable answers. Therein lies the depth of Mr. Crumb's thinking, albeit masterfully integrated within the fabric of highly personalized and skillful artistic abilities.
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    11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John E. Davidson on April 27, 2005
    Format: Hardcover
    R. Crumb is a famous underground comic, who in recent years has been elevated to cultural icon. Crumb's work is an exposition of his psyche - sometimes autobiographical, sometimes concentrating on his obsessions with sex and large, powerful women, sometimes, rather disconcertingly, both. His work divides critics - some hail him as a satirical genius: he has been compared to literary satirists Rabelais and Swift; and by art critics to Breughel and Goya. Others view his work as misogynistic pornography, socially degrading, emotionally immature, racist and sexist. There is merit in both views, I can certainly understand why some find his work offensive. However, I love his work and tend to agree with the former view, even if I do find some of the more lavish praise tends towards hyperbole. I suspect that Crumb does not really buy all of the hype - for example the book contains two well-known cartoons, both self-portraits: one with the line "Broigal it ain't", the other with the line "Yeah, but is it art".

    This book is part biography including numerous photographs and commentary from critics, part collection of cartoons and sketches with together with a fantastic CD of some of Crumb's music (rooted firmly in the 1920s - an interesting mixture of blues & bluegrass played mainly on the banjo).

    The cartoons amazing, the music CD brilliant (to be honest the CD on its own is worth the price of the whole package) and the biography is very interesting (personally I found the photographs the most disturbing part of the book - the picture of Crumb's wife Aileen giving him a piggy back while striking a `muscle' pose is too close to the imagery of the drawings for comfort). This is a wonderful introduction to Crumb, the man and his work, but even readers already very familiar with Crumb's work will find much to enjoy here.

    A final note: if you have not seen it then I recommend the wonderful documentary Crumb, directed by Crumb's friend Terry Zwigoff.
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    Format: Hardcover
    The R. Crumb Handbook is a superb collection of his art is a fine record of his lifetime body of work. Crumb himself writes frankly about his childhood, his youthful fascination with comics and with early blues, and his voyage since the 1950s through drugs, the counterculture and his rise to fame (and concurrent depression) and his subsequent rehabilitation mentally, emotionally, as well as professionally in the world of serious art.

    Crumb is by turns flaky, bemused, gutsy, sentimental and always 100% honest - and this beautifully produced volume helps us get to know and understand the complete life of this man: a true outsider who touches our collective inner nerve.

    His essays make great reading, and he illustrates these with samples of his work that suddenly take on new meaning. I never realised the degree to which his Keep on Truckin' character became a millstone around his neck.

    This book is perfect bedside material. Good for dipping into, and as our librarian belatedly found (below), somewhat raunchy too. I was given this volume as a gift, and it has not only entertained, it has filled in a juicy piece of my cultural upbringing. Robert Crumb is a hero, and icon even, but above all he's an honest reporter of our human condition. What a unique and illuminating book.
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    8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By t'amant on December 3, 2006
    Format: Hardcover
    I'm not vouching for the viewpoints taken or the commentaries on our bizarre human condition and culture necessarily, but this thick book (with a great cd of original and funny music) with its outrageous take on everything sacred is an inspiring dig into an artist's convoluted (but somehow eerily solid) psyche. I first saw many of these strips and characters in underground comics, tabs, independent newspapers, etc. back when I was a teen in the 70's and always was amazed at the hard-hitting art and dialogue. IT IS A TRIP! Sometimes, when the right frame of mind is brought around, this book will have you laughing more than you can barely stand. Just flow with it and forget your rigid alter-ego at the coat check. This is theater for the insane (with strong metaphorical realism). TAKE IT FOR FOR WHAT IT IS! A WINDOW INTO THE MIND OF A TRUE ARTIST. Makes a great gift for the moral majority members of your local PTA.
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    6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on March 27, 2008
    Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
    R. Crumb just may well be the most honest observer of the American scene of our generation. Since the mid-60s he's been looking at us and himself and putting his findings on paper. His eye has shifted focus several times over the past 50 years: early, cute satire; greeting card stuff that frequently was too risque to make it into print; the zapped LSD-inspired hippie drawings that made him the "father of underground comix"; the sexual confessions that earned him the hatred of some feminists and got him blacklisted from libraries (see the librarian's review of this book); the social critic who deplores consumerism, agri-industry, mass media, the ratrace, and the worship of the Almighty Buck; the music afficionado who writes incredible stories about his favorite musicians and musical genre; the philosopher who speculates about life, sex, fear, fame, and death; and always the autobiographer, who plumbs and probes and fingers his own psyche.

    The R. Crumb Handbook is the latest chronological/autobiographical compilation of his work. It's a good companion volume to The R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book, which came out a decade ago. Crumb apparently doesn't like putting these things together, and does so only when he needs some cash (the Coffee Table Art Book paid for putting central heating in his French house). But both books are fine introductions to Crumb's work for those who've just discovered him, and nice walks down memory lane for those who are longtime fans. The artwork is punctuated by short Crumb essays, as well as a few appropriate quotes from folks like James Kunstler, C.G. Jung, and Charles Bukowski. The Crumb essays are interesting, but not as detailed as those found in the Coffee Table Art Book.
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