R. Crumb's weirdest drug trip


21 Responses to “R. Crumb's weirdest drug trip”

  1. Ugly Canuck says:

    Shocked by how quickly people leap upon any reference that drugs might just be useful for people.

    Remember, LSD was legal until Gov.Reagan outlawed it in 1966.
    Seems that some people still get all uptight when others intimate that non-pharma drugs did them some good.

    I was expecting a discussion about Crumb, not anti-drug polemics.

  2. cuvtixo says:

    What Crumb doesn’t mention is that schizophrenia runs in his family. His older brother suffered from it, and it seems that his mother also did (although never diagnosed?) I suspect Crumb’s freakier experiences, including the one described, were from LSD + latent mental illness, not from psychedelics alone. Don’t try this at home kids, at least not with the hope of becoming an inspired artist.

  3. 2k says:

    all work + no play makes Jack a dull boy.

  4. Thad E Ginataom says:

    If LSD led to being an inspired artist, there would be so many of us!

    Reminds me of “Will I be able to play the piano after this op, doc?”

    “Can you now?”


    Thanks for the link… just spent a happy hour or so on the site. Will probably dream of GURL!

  5. Ugly Canuck says:

    I mean, lots of artists were and are heavy drinkers, and many may be inspired while drunk – like dylan thomas, for eg – but people don’t jump up and call them liars, and say that their drinking had nothing to do with their art.

    Art comes from the whole person: and of course we are not all artists, nor does Crumb anywhere claim that HIS experience could, far less should, be replicated by others.

    Artists ought not need to be exemplars of virtue, although that seems now to be a desired – nay, required – quality for some critics in modern America.
    No. They are simply artists. As such, their work is to be judged not by how they have made their art, or by what inspired them, or by what they had eaten or drank or smoked or injected while being inspired or working, or by how they treat other people, but by the art itself.

    And good art will never need any defense from me.

    I was momentarily taken aback by the attack upon Crumb from ahaarchive (who disingenuously then claims that he thinks Crumb is a great artist, apparently despite the “horseshit” which he had just vehemently accused Crumb of spreading) and his ham-fisted anti-drug trolling( or is it anti-hippie? and where would Crumb be now without the hippies, ahaarchive? )
    NOBODY made the statements which he attributes to Crumb, except ahaarchive himself.

    And I ought to know better than to feed trolls.

  6. ill lich says:

    I’m reminded of the chapter in “The Man who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” by Oliver Sacks, where the med student suddenly becomes “dog-like” after ingesting lots of drugs; he wakes up after a trip and has increased sense of smell and hearing and sight, including the ability to be able to draw from life when before he couldn’t. Unfortunately he also cannot think abstractly, with mathematics and concepts like “next week” being completely incomprehensible to him. Thankfully this only lasted for a few days, as it made his studies impossible, but if I were in the same position I would immediately take advantage of it by drawing and exploring the world with my new enhanced senses, similar to how Crumb took his freaked out state of mind and managed to create his best characters.

  7. irksome says:

    Groucho Marx, imitating Otto Preminger when they were both on acid, as related to Dick Cavett: “I zaw tings but, I did not zee my ZELF!”.

  8. tubacat says:

    Seriously, now — am I the only person to have noticed “LSD art”? Not among artists, though I’m sure I’ve seen many examples, for example on the sidewalks of San Francisco in the late 60′s. But in the doodles and sketches of friends who took a lot of acid…I remember noticing these very ornate, almost obsessively-elaborated doodles produced by several friends and acquaintances (each in their own style), and also noting that they were experienced acid users.

    Has no one else noticed this?

  9. ultranaut says:

    The brain seems to have a tendency towards homeostasis.

  10. horseradishroad says:

    Reminds me of Kim Deitch’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams, wherein a young cartoonist (and, if his intro is to be believed, the author himself) smoked and/or lit incense from a mysterious talisman-like pipe and became engulfed in hallucinogenic cartoon spirits and landscapes that became a very real part of his life, inspiring his most successful artwork.

  11. IWood says:

    Talent+Skill+Study+Brain+Drugs=Unbelievably Fabulous Mental Masturbation

    So there.

  12. Anonymous says:

    “This article originally appeared in The Complete Crumb Comics – Volume 4 (1988, Fantagraphics)”

  13. Laroquod says:

    You can look at a disposable pen and see something in it that inspires you to great art. People have been inspired to great art by looking at flowers, or by tripping over a dead dog. Heck, if there’s an itch on your nose in the wrong mood or on the wrong day (or rather the ‘right’ ones as it were), even that can inspire you to great art.

    In other words, (1) it’s not your experiences. It’s what you make of them. And (2) therefore, to claim it is impossible to derive valuable artistic inspiration from an experience drugs, is to put drugs in a class all on their own, somehow different from every other stimulus or possible observation known to humanity, ALL of which, I mean EVERY SINGLE ONE of which, are capable of inspiring the right person to express something great — except apparently drugs.

    So those of you saying that it is impossible for a drug to bring creative inspiration to anyone are living in a fairytale nonsense world in which there are magic evil things that are instrincally evil and from which no good can ever spring. That isn’t the real world folks, and those of you who see it that way really need to open your eyes and see the plain any-input-will-do-ness of the human brain that is sitting right in front of you.

    If reading these paragraphs doesn’t help you see this truth, maybe take some drugs. Or eat a tub of ice cream and go on a balloon ride. I guarantee that there is something out there that is capable of enlightening you. I really don’t care what it is — nor should you when it comes to others.

  14. strangefriend says:

    Crumb has done several strips about his time in San Francisco. ‘I remember the Sixties’ is pretty good. It chronicles several of his acid trips, like the bad trip where he thought he had gone to hell, & everyone around him were demons & devils. Or the time he saw the celestial lights, then came down, listening to the bus go by & wondered now what?

  15. Brainspore says:

    Any artist will tell you that booze and drugs are usually employed in tha absence of inspiration in desperation. They aren’t a magic elixir for creating inspiration. They’re an escape from lack of it.

    Clearly not ANY artist will tell you that.

  16. MonkeyKnifeFight says:

    What a sad, simplistic view of the world. I guess we’re just going to ignore the fact that a huge chunk of the most inspired artists of the last half century were very open about influences from psychedelic drugs. The Doors, Cary Grant, The Beatles, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, John Belushi, Steve Jobs, Rolling Stones and on and on and on.

    That would certainly be a group that I would describe as “in tha(sic) absence of inspiration in desperation.”

    Christ if the world were as chaste and boring as you would like it we would all be listening to The Monkees and furiously masturbating over a picture of Nancy Reagan just to get one brief spark of life in our bleak small-minded lives.

  17. Ugly Canuck says:

    So you are calling Crumb a liar when it comes to his thoughts on his own works?

    Maybe you’re the one “on drugs”.

    PS Crumb was not talking about just any old “drugs”…he’s talking about psychedelic drugs.
    You know, the ones the Government will now put you away for life for, the same ones that were legal in 1965.

    The ones that many many people credit with opening their minds, hearts, and abilities.

    But no…you are right, Crumb’s lying to us all, it’s all God’s doing.

    No talent is ever so great that it cannot be improved by application and experience.
    But that has nothing at all to do with psychedelic drugs, or the possibility that such may inspire some. Like they did Crumb, apparently.
    If you choose to believe him.

  18. Locobot says:

    Your reading of this is really off-base and simplistic. He doesn’t claim anywhere that drugs made him a great artist or that “all you need are the right drugs.” What he actually wrote was, “it was the psychotic manifestation of some grimy part of America’s collective unconscious.” Crumb had already spent his entire life developing the skills that allowed him to record that vision in a way that resonated with people.

    Or are you claiming that he’s just lying here? That he didn’t actually have some of his most original and creative moments while under the influence of psychedelic drugs? His sketch books are pretty well documented so I’d love to see your proof that those too were falsified.

    The equation for Crumb is more like:
    abusive childhood + rejection + obscure interests + questionable genetics + an insane amount of practice + drugs = greatness

    You should also consider that
    Talent+ Skill + Study – inspiration = mediocrity

  19. Ugly Canuck says:

    I don’t give a damn about what you have to say or think you know about drugs and art…you are not Crumb.
    So long as you don’t advocate throwing people into jail, due to your personal prejudices as to somebody else’s behavior.

    Really, you do seem to be worked up about drugs.

    Oh btw a plug for the recent release of the Criterion collection’s new blu-ray of the movie “Crumb”:


Leave a Reply