Born Weird

April 25, 2016 | 8

Meet the man who calls his own fans “scum,” R. Crumb. Crumb first rose to prominence after the 1968 debut of Zap Comix, the first of the majorly successful “underground comix” publications. His work with legendary poet Charles Bukowski is worth taking a look.

is an intern for The Millions. He reads and resides in North Carolina. Brian can be found on Twitter @jbetling, and in the real world behind the counter of Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, NC.


  1. Following the first link, I was directed to an article titled “Cassandra Clare Created a Fantasy Realm and Aims to Maintain Her Rule” that doesn’t appear to concern R. Crumb at all (as hard as I looked for a connection).

    Crumb’s drawings of old timey blues performers are profoundly well done, but I’ve been reading / looking at his material since (the often dangerous) Zap, then Weirdo and his projects with Harvey Pekar, Bukowski et al. Crumb’s line about his fans being “scum” comes out of a certain kind of darkly humorous, affectionately fatalistic, sensibility that was quite common among intellectuals of the late ’60 and ’70s. It should not be translated literally, by younger readers, to mean what they think it must mean.

  2. Exactly right, Steven. I don’t think the people running The Millions really understand or care to know about Crumb/illustrated storytelling in general.

  3. @Beamish13

    I suspect that general disinterest has helped Crumb fly under the radar since the New Puritanism took hold in the ’80s… because who, in the Art world, crossed more lines than Crumb? Supposed bad boys like Hirst or Jeff Koons (for example) never came close to transgressions as shocking as “Angelfood…” or “Big Baby”. So it’s probably in Crumb’s best interest that he remain semi-obscure… laugh.

    But let’s see how long it takes for someone to fix that link (so it actually leads to something about R. Crumb), eh?

  4. Erm, ” Aline is the chunky brunette who features in so much of Robert’s work…”

    Chunky? “Gorgeous” would have been closer. Perhaps the Grauniad should have sent a slightly less ambivalent interviewer.

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