Comic artists are either well-known by the general public, by a select few comic enthusiasts, or by readers of different disciplines who read their comics and graphic novels as an extension of some other discipline or project. The underground comics that came out of the 1960s, primarily in San Francisco, launched the careers of such luminaries as Gilbert Shelton, S. Clay Wilson, “Spain” Rodriguez, and--spearheading the lot,
--Robert Crumb, who brought a lighthearted raunch and neurotic loopiness to the cartoon world.
Drawn Together is a collection of comic strips done by Crumb and his wife, Aline. They call themselves the “George and Gracie of Comics” and get a lot of mileage out of being a Jew and a Gentile (Jew + Goy= Joy). The collection is historic in many ways. Firstly, it shows the work of the first husband-and-wife comics duo. Secondly, unlike comics which showed the often overly-proper, overly-sanitized worlds of family and relationships, the stories shown in
Aline and Bob’s Dirty Laundry Comics, Everyday Funnies, and Self-Loathing Comics honor and wallow in the real. One looks at these stories and--for the most part--the accounts being drawn and displayed are of situations the reader might be involved in. For the most part. There is occasional whimsy
(being taken by aliens, for instance). And there are sexual escapades of the type only Bohemians in the
Sixties--or one’s “neighbor”--might indulge in. Drawn Together
is honestly drawn comics created at a time when honesty was just beginning to
show itself in art. Hence the underground. One could almost call their drawings
a kind of precursor of reality television. Although most of society is less
rigid than it used to be, there are still aspects of this book that will bother
those who think sex and family imperfection are private matter.s
The personas displayed in the comics may or may not be exact representations of the artists, but they seem real nevertheless. Self-loathing, bickering, friendship, sexual escapades, the free-but-poverty-ridden life of the artist: all are on these pages. Some of the stories have feminist subversions, cultural commentary, and casual political references but are still solid stories.
The types of strips range from small four-panel strips to longer stories. There are also some color panels and a cute fashion show at the end. The writing is fun, raunchy, intimate, giddy,
and whiny. The drawings are amazing and astonishing at times, and clumsy at others--particularly in Aline Crumb’s drawings of herself. But that is their charm. Highly recommended.