R. Crumb's weirdest drug trip

 Files Crumboncrumb Type

Over on his website, Robert Crumb has been writing about significant events in his life. Recently he wrote about a long-lasting "weird psychedelic drug" he had taken in the 1960s, and the effects it had on his art.

A whole new thing was emerging in my drawings, a sort of harkening back, a calling up for what G. Legman had called the "Horror-Squinky" forces lurking in American comics of the 1940s. I had no control over it, the whole time I was in this fuzzy state of mind; the separation, the barrier betwixt the conscious and the subconscious was broken open somehow. A grotesque kaleidoscope, a tawdry carnival of disassociated images kept sputtering to the surface... especially if I was sitting and staring, which I often did. It was difficult to function in this condition, I was certifiably crazy, I sat staring on the couch at Marty's apartment, or on long aimless bus rides around Chicago. These jerky animated cartoons in my mind were not beautiful, poetic or spiritual, they were like an out-of-tune player piano that you couldn't shut off... pretty disturbing... this strange interlude ended as abruptly as it had begun in the next time I took a powerful dose of LSD in April '66. My mind suddenly cleared. The fuzziness was gone, the fog lifted. It was a great relief... a weird drug, that was. But what the heck -- "minds are made to be blown."

And what a boon to my art! It was during that fuzzy period that I recorded in my sketchbook all the main characters I would be using in my comics for the next ten years; Mr. Natural, Flakey Foont, Schuman The Human, The Snoid, Eggs Ackley, The Vulture Demoness, Shabno The Shoe-Horn Dog, this one, that one... which is interesting. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, like a religious vision that changes someone's life, but in my case it was the psychotoic manifestation of some grimy part of America's collective unconscious.

Crumb on LSD, the creation of his most famous characters, and his move to San Francisco in 1967