Crumb, Robert

Misogynist? Racist? Somebody who hates the world? Or a master of social satire? Hell, I don’t know. But if anybody is curious to find out, there is certainly a pile of books out there that should help you figure it out. He’s produced some of the most talked about comics of the last 40 years and has (for better or worse) influenced an entire generation of cartoonists. I’ve read a bunch of his comics, but very few of these giant books. Luckily, most of them are at the library, so you should still get my two cents worth on these at some point. Until then, a good starting point would probably be somewhere in the middle of the Complete Crumb volumes. Why the middle? Well, this is a thorough synopsis of his career, and the first couple of volumes are kind of short on comics, focusing more on his illustration work with Hallmark and some other various things. If you’re just looking for the comics, they start to focus completely on that right around #4 or 5. As for all of the other books, until I find out what they’re all about, enter at your own risk.

The R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book

Looks like a pretentious mess at the bookstore, but I think that’s what it’s supposed to look like. I still think the best way to go if you really like Crumb is to buy all the Complete volumes from Fantagraphics. If you just like him a little bit or are just curious, I guess something like this would be OK.

Odds and Ends

A collection of things done for greeting cards, advertisements and other random things. Probably only something you would really want to get if you’re a big time fan of his work, but what do I know?

Crumb Family Comic

If you saw the Crumb documentary, you know how messed up the rest of his family is. So please, join them all for comic fun!

Book of Mr. Natural

Remember that old bald man with a beard in a lot of his older comics? You know, the hippy. I never thought much of those stories that I saw (not that I saw more than a fraction of them), but if you liked them, here’s a collection of them for you.

R. Crumb Draws the Blues

I believe this is a collection of all the strips that Crumb did relating to people who played the blues of jazz back in the day. Seems obvious from the title, right? Anyway, I know he is a big record collector and I’m sure he knows a lot about most of those guys from the early part of the century. It’s probably fascinating reading and this is at least one of the ones that I’m going to get when I’m rich. What do you mean I’m never going to get rich running a website based on good comics?

The Complete Dirty Laundry Comics

OK, I don’t like his wife. I’m sure she’s a nice person and all that, but her comics have just never done anything for me. The parts that Crumb draws are OK, except that they’re few and far between. Stay away, Joe.

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

I ordered this a couple of years ago and was told that it was cancelled, so I got my money back. This is the first time I’ve seen it since then, so I guess it does exist. Not a comic, obviously, but it has to be an essential look into the mind of a unique guy.

The Life and Times of R. Crumb: Comments From Contemporaries

My initial impression when I saw this at the bookstore was that it was probably way too biased to be fair, as it was edited by a friend of his. I still don’t know if that snap judgment was true or not, but if anybody out there has read this and can tell me, let me know.

My Troubles With Women

If you have some kind of problem with Fantagraphics or just don’t want to buy all 15 (and counting) volumes of his collected work, this would probably be the one to get. A lot of his neuroses come from his dealings with and feelings for women, and that’s what this book is dedicated to. I’d buy it if I wasn’t planning to eventually get all the volumes.

R. Crumb’s America

Well, the only review of this on Amazon says that it’s a jumbled mess, but what do they know? If you’re curious about his view of the country (and keep in mind that he left in disgust for good in the mid 90’s), then you should probably consider getting this. It’s apparently a collection of a whole bunch of his stories about America, from the 60’s through the 90’s, so it might be interesting to see how his views change.

Big Yum Yum Book: The Story of Oggie and the Beanstalk

This is a book that he did as a teenager with one of his brothers, I think. It’s (so they say) a remarkably innocent book, considering what his later work consisted of. Might be interesting if you’re a completist or something, otherwise it’s probably not essential reading.

The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat

This is a character that he killed off basically because he hated the movie that was made about the cat. Most of the stories are just dressed-up hippie stuff, so unless that’s your thing, don’t bother. I’d much rather read some of his autobiography or stuff from the 80’s on up than any of this.

Complete Crumb Volume 2: More Years of Bitter Struggle

Complete Crumb Volume 3: Starring Fritz the Cat

This is the only one of these volumes that I actually own, and it’s not very good. Too many greeting cards and things that, as a fan mostly of his comics, I really could care less about. I’m not going to comment on the other ones until I get them from the library (or find a box of money), so take what you can from the title or click the link to see what Amazon has to say about them if you’re curious.

Complete Crumb Volume 4: Mr. Sixties

Complete Crumb Volume 5: Happy Hippy Comix

Complete Crumb Volume 6: On the Crest of a Wave

Complete Crumb Volume 7: Hot ‘N’ Heavy

Complete Crumb Volume 8: Death of Fritz the Cat

Complete Crumb Volume 9: R. Crumb Versus the Sisterhood

Complete Crumb Volume 10: Crumb Advocates Violent Overthrow

Complete Crumb Volume 11: Mr. Natural Confined to a Mental Institution

Complete Crumb Volume 12: We’re Livin’ in the Lap of Luxury

Complete Crumb Volume 13: Season of the Snoid

Complete Crumb Volume 14: The Early 80’s and Weirdo Magazine

Complete Crumb Volume 15

R. Crumb Sketchbook Volume 3

I’ve never been a fan of sketchbooks. Probably because I can’t draw my way out of a paper bag, but there you have it. For those of you who have to have everything that this man has done, here you go. Each of these volumes represents basically a year of him sitting around drawing, and if that’s what floats your boat then I’m sure you could find the rest of them at the Fantagraphics homepage. Same goes for the Complete Crumb volumes I don’t have here too, probably.

R. Crumb Sketchbook Volume 6

R. Crumb Sketchbook Volume 7

R. Crumb Sketchbook Volume 8

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