Tuesday, August 30, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, R. CRUMB!


R. Crumb is a titan.  A very weird titan.  His comic books can be described as hilarious, depressing, misogynistic, racist, upsetting, groundbreaking, influential, and masterpieces.  Sometimes they're all of those things at once.  His Book Of Genesis was a no-holds barred graphic (sometimes VERY graphic) representation of the first book of the bible, and it was incredibly provocative.  People could complain about what he depicted, but it's all in there!  Now if he could just do the rest of the bible!


Crumb turns 73 today.  You should track down some of his comics and read them in his honor, or just watch one of the many documentaries out there about him.  The best known one is Crumb, by Terry Zwigoff, but I can't track the full thing down online.  There is another fantastic documentary called Comic Book Confidential, which features Crumb and virtually every other important comic books figure and story that existed before 1988.  You get the full history of the medium, as well as interviews with people like William Gaines (EC Comics, Mad Magazine), Crumb, Bill Griffith (Zippy the Pinhead), Stan Lee, Frank Miller, Lynda Barry, Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman... EVERYBODY.  This one is very highly recommended.  You can rent it from YouTube.


As far as free stuff that's floating around on the interwebs, you can find lots of clips from both of these documentaries, but there's another one that's on YouTube in its entirety.  The Confessions Of Robert Crumb came out in 1987, and it presents him in all his awkward glory.  There are lots of interviews with him regarding art, jazz, family, and life.  Plus it's only an hour long, so you're not out much.

If you're a music nerd, however, you may want to just do a YouTube search for Robert Crumb Old Time Radio Show.  You'll find a load of clips featuring an appearance Crumb made on John Heneghan's Old Time Radio Show, and it was recorded in Crumb's record room.  This is fascinating for a number of reasons.  First, you actually get to see what his record room looks like.  It's packed with exceptionally rare 78's, which loom large in his legend.  Second, Crumb is hand picking records and dropping the needle on them.  Third, if you love the clips, you can go directly to the podcasts and listen to full episodes with Crumb geeking out about old jazz.  He's hardcore..

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