#384 R. Crumb’s “Weirdo” Years Revisited

weirdoWeirdo was a magazine started by R. Crumb, which featured Crumb’s work alongside that of a number of other underground-type comics creators. Crumb’s work from Weirdo’s 28 issues has just been collected as R. Crumb: The Weirdo Years, 1981-’93, released in the U.S. by Last Gasp. It features an astonishing variety of comics work, from Crumb rants and confessionals to a 1906 psychiatric report on sexual deviancy, fumetti, parodies, and more. This is a book that Deconstructing Comics can’t help but review, so this week Kumar and Tim do their podcasting duty!

R. Crumb’s Snapshots: Source Material of the Legendary Comic Artist (TIME.com)

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Resident of Japan since 1989, creator of "The Crazing Spider-Hag"

4 thoughts on “#384 R. Crumb’s “Weirdo” Years Revisited”

  1. I don’t believe Crumb is a full out racist… but I do think he is fascinated with the “camp” or ridiculousness of racism in society and prejudices in general.

    I remember when I used to look at the Janis Joplin cover he illustrated and there was at least one very caricaturish looking black person on the cover. It used to disturb me a bit… Also the Fritz the Cat cartoon with the black crows representing blacks. I think he makes fun of his own insecurities all the time, sexually, socially, etc. I do agree when you say he has fears that can easily be construed as racist, ie. urban fears and fears of black city youth, stereotypical suburbia fear.

    It seems like Crumb likes racist, non-PC depictions in art for some weird nostalgic look that fits his art style for some reason. I don’t know… dude is weird. LOL. But that weirdness is also why he’s so good.

  2. I had a number of thoughts about the subject as I was listening. I read all those Weirdos back in the 90’s when I bought them all for $2 each. I think it’s all far superior to the 60’s stuff he did. It, overall, had a lot more substance, and was artistically refined.

    His pieces, Psychopathia Sexualis and the British journal (I think Psychopathia is the better), seemed to me about him exploring the depth of sexual depravity, and also to show how it really is timeless. Crumb is a ‘pervert’ by 50s and 60s standards, but his behaviour is mostly pretty tame by today’s standards. I think there was a lot of weight on him about his tastes and interests, and stories like that normalise him a lot. So I can see why it was interesting subject matter. You compared it to his Genesis book, but I thought that content was very devoid of Crumb. Great art, but hard to see Crumb’s voice, especially as it wasn’t really edited by him. He put all of Genesis into it.

    The other comment was about “Is he racist?” I think all people are racist to an extent. People today, should a bad thought go through their head, tell themselves “I shouldn’t think that.” We police ourselves. Crumb isn’t from that generation, and I think he’s a lot less racist than a lot of people who might proclaim, “I’m not racist.” But he has these ugly thoughts, and he honestly records that. If an underground artist were to do it today, they couldn’t just leave it there to be puzzled over. They would make it clear it was an ugly thought. Crumb is a racist to the extent we all are, and he mixes that in with all his other loathsome human details and let’s them be themselves, honestly. And that’s why I marvel at his work. He has a courage to make himself unattractive in a way few artists do.

  3. Thank you for the comments, def! They are very clarifying. I agree with you on all counts.

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