Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Weirdo, Zap Comix
It was his oldest brother Charles Crumb, more than Robert, who loved comics as a kid, and forced his little brother to start drawing comics at age 3. Robert grew up reading Pogo and Donald Duck, and Harvey Kurtzman's Mad Magazine. At 19, Crumb got a job as a profession illustrator at American Greetings card company, where he worked for Tom Wilson, who went on to draw Ziggy. For greeting cards, though, they wanted Crumb to draw "cute", so he submitted his grotesque stuff to magazines, and Kurtzman, then at Help!, bought one, and evolved into a mentor and friend.
Crumb made his fame underground in the 1960s, with "Fritz the Cat" and "Mr. Natural", the latter inspired by his use of LSD. He moved to San Francisco in 1967, and became a recognized celebrity in hippie-occupied sections of the city. He says he never much liked hippies, though. Zap Comix pictured a strutting goofball with big feet and the caption "Keep on truckin'". It became a worldwide catchphrase, ubiquitous on T-shirts and bumper stickers, yet a judge later ruled that since Crumb hadn't filed the right paperwork, nobody owed him any royalties for "Keep on truckin'".
When an issue of Zap dealt with incest, several comic book shops selling it were raided by police. In 1972, Ralph Bakshi made Fritz the Cat into an X-rated feature-length cartoon without gaining Crumb's permission; on finding out, Crumb had Fritz the Cat killed off by a jilted lover. In 1977, the IRS demanded $30,000 Crumb didn't have, so he moved to France, returning a year later, after the matter had been settled to the feds' satisfaction. In the 1980s he entered the mainstream, with exhibits in famous museums, a documentary, and glowing profiles in Time and on the BBC. Another documentary, Crumb, was a big hit in 1994.
By then, though, he'd had enough of America's increasingly conservative culture. Like most artists, Crumb had old sketchbooks lying around, but unlike most artists he was able to buy a house in France with the proceeds from selling a few of those sketchbooks.
Father: Charles Crumb, Sr. (Marine)
Brother: Charles Crumb Jr. (shut-in, d. 1995, suicide)
Sister: Carol (elder)
Brother: Maxon Crumb (ascetic, b. 1945)
Wife: Dana Morgan (m. 1964; div. 1977 or 1978)
Son: Jesse (b. 1968)
Wife: Aline Kominsky-Crumb (cartoonist, m. 1978)
Daughter: Sophie (b. 1981)
Cheap Suit Serenaders
Risk Factors: LSD, Marijuana, Dyslexia
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Chelsea on the Rocks (23-May-2008)
Crumb (10-Sep-1994) · Himself
Comic Book Confidential (10-Sep-1988) · Himself
Is the subject of documentaries:
The Confessions of Robert Crumb, 1987
Crumb, 1994, DETAILS: dir. Terry Zwigoff
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