Artist Drew Friedman wrote a tribute to the cartooning legend, Robert Crumb, as he approaches his 80th birthday on August 29.
To celebrate this occasion, Drew is releasing a limited edition print of his illustration, "R. Crumb at Work." Only thirty-five prints were produced, each signed by Friedman, hand-titled, and numbered. The first ten prints are being offered unframed for $200 each, plus shipping, with prices increasing as the edition depletes. The piece of art, featured in Friedman's book Maverix and Lunatix: Icons of Underground Comix (Fantagraphics), captures the essence of the influential artist who has shaped the landscape of underground comics for decades.
[Crumb] was born in Philadelphia and inspired by "funny animal comics" of the 1940s & '50s, such as Pogo, Super Duck, and Coo Coo Comics. When his older brother Charles encouraged Robert to collaborate with him on creating their own comics, Crumb quickly developed into a gifted cartoonist. Discovering the work of Harvey Kurtzman,
first in the early Mad comics and then in Trump and Humbug, the Crumb brothers created their own Kurtzman-inspired satire magazine, Foo. In 1962, Robert went to work at the American Greetings Corporation in Cleveland, first as a color separator, then as a greeting cards illustrator. While with the company he contributed Fritz the Cat adventures and sketchbook travelogues to Kurtzman's magazine Help!, with a bit of sideline cartoon work for Topps Bubblegum cards.
In 1965 he moved to New York for a gig as Kurtzman's assistant, but Help! soon went under. Encouraged by Kurtzman to "do your own stuff," Crumb set out to join the late '60s "psychedelic revolution" in San Francisco. LSD-inspired, he exploded with creativity, introducing his iconic characters Mr. Natural, Flakey Foont, Eggs Ackley, and Angelfood McSpade while repurposing the old blues slogan "Keep On Truckin'," all within the pages of Zap #1, spearheading the underground comix movement. Crumb created a monumental amount of work during that era, including the cover art for the Janis Joplin-fronted Big Brother & the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills album. In 1981 he debuted his "low brow" humor magazine Weirdo.
Ten years later, Crumb moved to France with his wife, cartoonist Aline Kominsky and their daughter, Sophie. Terry Zwigoff's acclaimed documentary, Crumb, chronicling Robert's oddball family tree, was released in 1994.
After the recent death of Aline, Crumb revisited America in early 2023, criss-crossing the country by car (with his nephew at the wheel) to see family and old friends. One of his stops along the way was to visit me at my studio and "Jewseum" (my large collection of Jewish comedy ephemera).
Crumb is both the most celebrated and controversial artist of his time. His life continues to be an open book to his fans, warts and all.