R. Crumb's Short History (and future) of America

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In 1979, Robert Crumb created "A Short History of America," depicting the rise of the urban landscape from the wilderness. The art first ran in the Whole Earth Catalog's offspring CoEvolution Quarterly. The animation of the original black and white artwork seen above is from the movie Crumb. Several years later, Crumb added three new panels showing possible future scenarios: The Fun Future (above), Ecological Disaster (above), and The Ecotopian Solution. You can purchase a color poster of the full 15 panel version from Steve Krupp's Curio Shoppe. (Thanks, Jason Tester!)


  1. Which is maybe a good thing in a way.

    I like the African American woman waving to the Jesusbearded hippie in white with the red wagon at the picture’s bottom left: eloquent refutation of all that “Crumb’s a racist” nonsense from a month or so back….

  2. I first saw this around 30 years ago and it continues to intrigue me. In my opinion, Crumb is the greatest living artist in the US (or France, if you must).

  3. Whether he’s the greatest is debatable, but the fact that he’s not in the US anymore is probably a more telling thing than just about anything else you could think of.

  4. I somehow found “Short History” deeply inspirational when I first saw it a decade ago at a friend’s house… I enjoy studying “then and now” historical photo-comparisons, and all the small details of change portrayed in Crumb’s sequence, from the focus to the pace, from the growth to the decay, inspired hours of pondering how and why the changes happened, what they represented, how they were perceived at the time, and what we’re embracing now that we’ll regret in the future.

  5. @#3, no, the disaster New Orleans. How mean of you!

    But if it was Detroit, we should want to help out Detroit, being the nations only major industrial city and all.

    Or would we rather let the US economy, collapse and see teh world’s economy collapse in turn.

    Yes, I have lots of issues today. This painfully cliched cartoon being one of them

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