Today's issue of The Guardian has a special report on comic artist extraordinaire Robert Crumb, including a new interview conducted at his home in the south of France.
By the time Crumb was nine, he had become an obsessive collector, obsessive cartoonist and obsessive nostalgic. He already had a sense of yearning for an America he had never known. His mother used to tell him he was like a little old man. Did he think he was weird? "Oh, yes. I knew I was weird by the time I was four. I knew I wasn't like other boys. I knew I was more fearful. I didn't like the rough and tumble most boys were into. I knew I was a sissy."
…It's strange talking to Crumb – his words are depressive and lugubrious, and yet he appears mellow, laughing easily through his existential nausea. The most terrible stories amuse him as much as they pain him. He tells me how a best friend killed himself by swallowing four bottles of paper correction fluid, and he chortles. He talks of his own despair, and giggles. He admits that he could never have imagined a life quite so fulfilled – with Aline, and his beloved daughter Sophie, also a cartoonist, and success and money – and says he's still miserable as hell, and laughs.