There was something about the self-published comic “Zap Comix” that, when it first appeared in 1968, immediately struck a chord. It was angry and hilarious, full of adolescent high jinks yet obviously intellectual, and at once realistic and utterly surrealist. The drawings were so 19th century, but the content completely fit that year of political rebellion and cultural invention. The lead and instigating cartoonist was R. Crumb, who had recently fled the east coast and an obnoxious family life for San Francisco at the very height of the Haight and hippie psychedelia.
"Barrelhouse Blues," 1970,
unpublished album cover, ink on
paper, 20 1/4” x 19 1/4”.
"Burned Out," East Village Other cover,
February 11, 1970, ink on paper,
21 1/4” h x 14 3/4” x 1 1/2”.
"Zap #1,” 1967, unpublished
cover, ink on paper, 21” x 15 3/8”.
"Fritz the Cat," 1965, ink on paper, two
frames 20 1/2” x 78 3/8” x 1 1/2” each.
Complete 10 page story
"Head #1," unpublished cover,
1967, ink on paper, 10” x 7 1/8”.
|Back in the day what made him such a hero was that so many felt he spoke on their behalf. But, not unlike Dylan or, better yet Frank Zappa, the distance in time and a little biographical back checking reveals a sharper edge and a refusal to engage in cheerleading. Before “political correctness” was an operable term Crumb continually made fun of the mindless conformity and was an inevitable ballast of the counterculture as it rapidly went mainstream. And what is reflected in the body of work here is not in the manner of good natured criticism. The man despises the lot of us. When he and his wife moved to France in the early ‘90s he was getting the hell out of Dodge. The American mind set never suited him, and the pair have worked there, by most reports relatively happily ever after. So he’s gone, but we are happy to say it’s not a good riddance.|