Robert Crumb

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Crumb's art is born of the tradition of social commentators like George Grosz, Otto Dix and Max Beckman, and of the English caricaturists, George Cruikshank and James Gillray. Looking at his drawings, one immediately recognizes his awesome technical skill, a facility that New Yorker art critic Adam Gopnik describes as "virtuosic, the evolution of an out-of-date grotesque style into a realist style that registers the banal, the ordinary, the unconsciously humorous day to day stuff that fills our lives."

Crumb's published output since 1967 has been voluminous and the circulation of that work continues to grow. There are estimated to be over two million copies of Zap Comix alone, in print. The breadth of his work encompasses the familiar coterie of characters from Mr. Natural to Mode O'Day, but he has also toured 17th Century London in Boswell's London Journal based on James Boswell's classic literary work; done a scholarly exposition on sexual deviance in Psychopathia Sexualis, and debated the Buddhist philosophy of detachment in Those Cute, Adorable Little Bearzy Wearzys. Still insecure about a technical style that is universally praised by critics, Crumb remarks: "I go through long periods of agonizing over what I'm doing. I've never been a facile draftsman -- I always have to struggle to figure out how to draw things."


August 30, 1943 -- Robert Crumb is born in Philadelphia, the third of five children to career Marine Charles Crumb, Sr. and his wife Beatrice. Raised a Catholic, Crumb starts drawing comics at the age of three.

1962 -- Crumb moves to Cleveland, and goes to work for the American Greetings Corporation, drawing greeting cards.

1964 -- Crumb marries Dana Morgan and begins drawing the earliest rendition of Fritz the Cat for Cavalier magazine.

1965 -- Crumb takes LSD for the first time, inspiring some of his most famous characters, such as Mr. Natural, Flakey Foont, and the Vulture Demonesses.

1967 -- After trying New York and Chicago, Crumb moves to San Francisco and begins drawing Zap Comix.

1968 -- His first child, Jesse, is born.

1969 -- Crumb's "Joe Blow" strip from Zap #4 prompts obscenity busts at several comics stores.

1970 -- Ralph Bakshi acquires the rights to Crumb's Fritz The Cat, and makes the first X-rated feature-length cartoon.

1972 -- Crumb starts the old-time string band The Cheap Suit Serenaders.

1976 -- Crumb declines an invitation to host Saturday Night Live.

1977 -- Judge rules Crumb does not own the copyright to "Keep on Truckin'." The IRS hits him with $30,000 back tax bill. He divorces Dana.

1978 -- Marries Aline Kominsky, a cartoonist; moves to Winters, California, near Sacramento.

1981 -- Daughter Sophie born.

1983-89 -- Profiles of Crumb and his work appear in People, Newsweek, and on BBC-TV.

1990 -- Featured prominently in New York Museum of Modern Art show, High and Low.

1993 -- Crumb trades six notebooks for a house in the south of France and moves there with his wife and daughter.

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Last modified 16-August-1995.