Robert Crumb book recommendations?
August 30, 2018 1:28 AM   Subscribe

I just watched the documentary Crumb (1995) and it blew me away. I really enjoyed his drawings and wanted to know where to start / which of his books are the most worth buying.
posted by jtothes to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
He's very variable. If you'd like an overview, and mostly like his art, the R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book is an oversized book with things from his whole career, and you could if you liked follow up on things from it.

Also good for the art: his version of the Book of Genesis.

He's done Self-Loathing Comics with his wife Aline Kominsky-- kind of slice-of-life, mostly set in France where he now lives, always well drawn.

Of his early stuff, Fritz the Cat is the best known, and makes an interesting window into the '60s.
posted by zompist at 2:05 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Coffee Table Art book is great

If you enjoyed the music, get his Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country book (which comes with a CD of curated music content). The profiles are fabulous and the writing informative. The CD is in constant rotation in my collection.

Also please please check out the work of Aline and his Daughter.

Aline Kominsky Crumb's Need More Love Graphic Novel Memoir is SO funny and wonderful. Her stories about Robert and their life are funny and warm and excellent. I prefer her work to R. Crumb, actually.

And if you REALLY want to dig deep, you can get Sophie Crumb's Evolution of a Crazy Artist. It's FASCINATING to see how she is influenced so strongly by both her mother and father.

I loved the Crumb documentary, but I have to say I get more joy out of the work of the women in his life.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:07 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

The R. Crumb Handbook was interesting
posted by thelonius at 5:12 AM on August 30, 2018

> zompist:
"Also good for the art: his version of the Book of Genesis."

Seconded! I really liked this one.
posted by maurice at 5:16 AM on August 30, 2018

R. Crumb’s Head Comix is a good distillation of his 1960s Zap era, and I would consider it to be Peak Crumb.

American Splendor is written by Harvey Pekar, and contains a lot of material not drawn by Crumb, but the strips that were drawn by Crumb are essential. (And I would recommend this particular volume of American Splendor, as Pekar, like Crumb, gets more inconsistent as time goes on.)
posted by 1970s Antihero at 5:37 AM on August 30, 2018 [4 favorites]

I recommend his illustrated Book of Genesis, a remarkable work.
posted by 4th number at 6:49 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

As said above, the Coffee Table Artbook is great for an overview of his career.

The American Splendor stories drawn by Crumb have been collected in one volume.

Fantagraphics Books are still putting out volumes of the Complete Crumb, all of which have their pros and cons. I personally think that Crumb's 80s work is his strongest, back when he was editing Weirdo magazine. They're collected here.

I also love his illustrations in Introducing Kafka.

Finally, if you want to see bits and pieces from Crumb's sketchbook, as well as his dream diary (!), you should check out Mineshaft magazine. He's also done some beautiful covers for them.
posted by Del Chimney at 6:58 AM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

Forgot to say: I also agree that Aline Crumb is a great cartoonist. Drawn Together, the collection of the work that the couple made together, is also one of the best Crumb books around.
posted by Del Chimney at 7:04 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nthing the Coffee Table Art Book, R. Crumb Handbook in general, the Kafka book, American Splendor collaborations, and Weirdo Years in particular.

Or basically, what Del Chimney (Great handle!) said.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:09 AM on August 30, 2018

Of his early stuff, Fritz the Cat is the best known, and makes an interesting window into the '60s.

Many (including Crumb himself) feel Fritz is really mediocre, the just-before. IMO his most interesting work is the early Zap Comix, especially the Oth and 1st issues, which are composed entirely of his stories. #2 & #3 had some great stuff, as well, and check out his other titles from the early 1970s (esp. XYZ). Best compilations I know are the three Crack Editions: My Troubles With Women, R. Crumb's America and R.Crumb Draws the Blues, all published by Knockabout Comics in the '90s. They're the same size & fit companionably together on the bookshelf with the above-mentioned Head Comix reprint from 1988.
posted by Rash at 3:17 PM on August 30, 2018

He illustrated the best of Harvey Pekar -- seek out especially "American Splendor" #4.
posted by Rash at 3:20 PM on August 30, 2018

... which you can find in Bob & Harv.
posted by Rash at 4:04 PM on August 30, 2018

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