The R. Crumb Handbook is a beautiful book. I love the pen and ink drawings of Robert Crumb. Iím torn about his subject matter. Crumb is a gifted artist and apparently a pervert of some sort. Itís as though he uses the sticky black material of his id as ink. Iíve always preferred my id material to be hidden away from sight and only occasionally hinted at (even these hints must be veiled in humor). How one feels about R. Crumbís work tends to say a bit about oneís perspective on the subject matter.
The R. Crumb Handbook is Crumbís life story as told to his friend Peter Poplaski. It is interspersed with Crumbís comics and art, movie posters and pictures from the Crumb family album. It gives us a glimpse into the strange phenomenon that is Crumbís success. He found his success in counter-culture underground comics after a brief stint at American Greetings.
Crumb's is currently an icon and a brand name. His works are displayed in museums and art shows. Goateed snobs sip wine and comment on the verisimilitude of Those Cute Little Bearzy Wearzies. I get the sense that Crumb is chagrined by this. Itís worked for him, though. He was able to sell some of his journals to finance his move to France.
While I can appreciate his criticism of the norm, for me he goes too far with the more sordid subject matter. This may say more about me than it does Crumb. This book is definitely worth the money. Not all the comics are crude, and even the ones that are are beautifully illustrated.
A CD sampler of Robert Crumbís musical exploits accompanies the book. Iíd recommend listening to the CD while you pore over the pages of this book... Unless youíre easily offended.