If I don't draw for a while, I get really crazy.
I start feeling depressed and suicidal if I don't get to draw.
But sometimes when I'm drawing, I feel suicidal, too.
What are you trying to get at in your work?
I don't know.
I don't work in terms of conscious messages. I can't do that.
It has to be something...
I'm revealing to myself while I'm doing it, which is hard to explain.
Which means that while I'm doing it, I don't know exactly what it's about.
You have to have the courage to take that chance.
What's gonna come out?
What's coming out of this?
I enjoy drawing.
It's a deeply ingrained habit. It's all because of my brother Charles.
Hello, Mother? I'm in Philadelphia.
I'm going to give a talk at the art school downtown tomorrow.
So Terry and this film crew are here with me.
They'd like to come over and drop me off there...
and talk possibly to Charles...
about maybe filming him if you're not...
He doesn't want to do it? Okay.
Not if you don't want him to. I certainly won't...
All right. Bye.
Well, that's that.
I start with this one...
because it's probably the thing I'm most well-known for.
You could see it for a long time on truck mud flaps.
I don't know why it caught the popular imagination.
It caused me nothing but headaches for ten years after I drew it:
lawsuits and I.R.S. problems.
It was a nightmare just because of this stupid ‘‘Keep on truckin’’.
So don't anybody come to me and say, ‘‘Hey, R.! Keep on truckin!’’
This is probably the next thing...
I'm most well-known for.
I'm trying to hook you in to who I am.
This sold millions of copies. I got $600...
from CBS records in 1968.
And they kept my artwork. They stole my artwork, those bastards.
I heard recently that the original of this...
sold at Sotheby's for $21,000.
This is the third thing I'm the most well-known for...
because this was made into a major full-length animated cartoon...
which was an embarrassment to me for the rest of my life.
I have to say I had nothing to do with the cartoon.
I didn't want them to do it. I thought they were schlockmeisters.
They just rolled right over me.
So I had this character killed in a later story. I had a female ostrich...
stab him in the head with an ice pick.
When I first met him, he never talked, he just drew.
He was catatonic, and the only voice he had was his pen.
He was very productive.
My mother thought he was retarded when she met him.
She said, ‘‘Some people like cripples, some like retards.’’
She thought I was a real creep when she first met me.
He's more comfortable after knowing the same people for a long time.
He's a little more communicative...
but still he clams up.
He gets stilted in his conversation around anybody he doesn't know well.
That's why I'm such an exciting subject for a movie.
Watch out with those weights.
- Don't hit me with those things. - Don't go behind me.
These rich rednecks have moved out here and built their dream homes...
on the top of every single hill.
There used to be nothing over here. Then these people bought this property.
- They might hear you. - Look at this house.
- Not too loud. - Right above our house.
- Looks right into Robert's studio. - Be quiet.
I don't care if they hear me.
Couldn't be any ruder than them putting their house right above mine.
What do I care?
I guess not, since we're moving to France, what do you care?
They have a plan to widen this road and put it through where these trees are.
There's a big X that the surveyors sprayed on here...
and I erased it the other day.
Then I took out their sticks from the other side of the road.
They're going to widen this road...
and take a big chunk of land out of that side with all these trees.
Put 12 dream homes back in there.
We decided to chain ourselves to these oak trees if they try and take them out.
Our house is so humble nestled against the hill. Tasteful.
All these other houses are oriented to look down at our place...
because it's like a backdrop for their air-conditioned nightmare houses.
Each hilltop can view each other hilltop. The shmucks.
I'm drawing portraits of girls I had crushes on in high school in Delaware.
This one I'm drawing now is Winona Newhouse...
affectionately known among the boys as ‘‘The Shelf’’.
She had this phenomenal rear shelf.
She was nice, too, actually. She was kind to me.
This one here, Naomi Wilson...
was this cross-eyed farm girl that wore homemade clothes.
I secretly had a crush on her. I was sexually attracted to her.
Of course, you'd never dare admit it openly...
that you like this funky girl that had B.O. and hairy legs.
That's Jean Strahle. I liked her, too. She was also considered a dork.
She was a bookwormy type that talked with a lisp...
and had shapely, powerful legs.
I never actually had any contact with these girls...
except I used to play footsie with this one.
Where are they now?
Thirty years ago.
They're all middle-aged housewives now. Jesus, what a thought.
Winona. I wish she was here now...
this 17-year-old Winona...
instead of this film crew.
When I listen to old music, it's one of the few times...
I actually have a kind of love for humanity.
You hear the best part of the soul of the common people.
It's their way of expressing...
their connection to eternity or whatever you want to call it.
Modern music doesn't have that calamitous loss.
People can't express themselves that way anymore.
It was late 1948...
when I was five years old, we moved to this section of Philadelphia.
This is this project that we lived in.
I can't remember which we lived in. They all look the same.
Jesus. It's grim here.
Oh, my God! This is where we went to the market.
There was a dime store that sold toys there.
We used to buy candy and stuff and comic books.
The three brothers, me, Charles and Maxon, hung around together a lot.
We'd rummage for stuff in the dump.
One time Charles brought this thing back from the dump.
It was this beautiful wooden truck.
Like an ice cream truck made of wood. I wanted it really bad.
He wouldn't let me touch it. He was spiteful that way.
So I made a big fuss, and I told my mother.
She said, ‘‘Charles, let him play with that.’’
He said, ‘‘Okay.’’
About 15 minutes later, he said, ‘‘Okay, you can play with it now.’’
I ran outside, and he had smashed it to smithereens against the wall.
Charles, you read any good books lately?
Yeah, I guess I have. I don't know.
You seem to be recycling a lot of these books.
What do you mean by ‘‘recycling’’?
You read them 20 years ago. Now you're reading them again.
I'm reading them again. Yeah.
I do that because there's nothing else to do.
You've read them all. You ever read anything new?
I haven't read Kant or Hegel.
- You have any interest in that stuff? - Maybe I'll get around to reading them.
- You read any recent writers? - Not really, no.
- Not interested in them? - Most aren't that good or interesting.
They're not as interesting as the Victorian writers...
of the late 19th century.
I always kind of envied your life in a way.
My life has become so hectic.
Why? Because I was so detached from the human race?
Is that one of the reasons why you envy me?
This cloistered environment with your books.
Believe me, it's nothing to envy.
Charles started this comic thing.
He was completely obsessed with comics when we were kids...
and had absolutely no other normal kid interest.
He wasn't interested in toys or games.
He didn't play sports.
He didn't do anything but read comics, draw comics, think comics and talk them.
I like drawing, but I had other drawing interests besides comics.
I liked to draw realistic scenes...
just pictures of buildings and cars and stuff.
He wasn't interested in that at all. It was only comics.
This is the earliest one that still exists that I have. Charles drew this.
That's supposed to be me, and that's him.
You made me feel absolutely worthless if I wasn't drawing comics.
I don't think I would have done that. I don't think I was as far gone as that.
Maybe I was just unconsciously imitating the old man.
- What was he like? - My father was an overbearing tyrant.
Yes, he was.
Maybe I was unconsciously imitating him when I forced you to draw comic books.
There's still a kind of sibling rivalry between me and Robert...
like there was when we were kids and he was still living at home.
I think basically Robert and I are still competing with each other.
It's like when I'm drawing comics, I still think of Charles' approval...
whether or not he's going to like them.
Charles had everybody drawing comics in the family.
‘‘The Animal Town Publishing Company.’’
That was a club we had...
where we sat around and talked about comics.
I was usually the president. Robert was usually the vice president.
Carol was usually the secretary...
and Sandy was the treasurer and Maxon was the supply boy.
And he still resents that.
He still resents the fact we imposed the role of supply boy on him.
Max Crumb in room 310?
Maxon was the scapegoat in the family.
Of five kids, he was definitely on the bottom of the heap.
Just to explain...
we had these meetings for this club Charles put together called...
The Animal Town Comics Club.
Something to do with comics.
Everybody had their job, a secretary, a president, a vice president.
I was supply boy.
I got it more heavy or direct than Robert, but there was the whole thing.
It was like a crazy sibling thing between me, Charles and Robert...
in this room upstairs...
and the world didn't know what the fuck was going on.
It was like three primordial monkeys working it out in the trees.
Me and Maxon slept in the same bed until we were 16 or something.
Very intimate, close situation.
Charles was inspired by the Disney movie...
where Robert Newton plays Long John Silver.
After we saw it on TV in 1955...
we started playing pirates like normal kids do.
We'd go out and pretend.
We made this ship out of an old refrigerator carton.
Charles would walk around town dressed up like Long John Silver.
He had this old coat of my mother's, this long, green coat.
He made himself a three-cornered hat out of some woman's hat.
He had a crutch, and he'd tie up his leg and go around town that way.
I didn't realize how fixated Charles was on ‘‘Treasure Island’’ till years later.
This thing dominated our play and our fantasy for six or seven years.
We drew these comics...
about ‘‘Treasure Island, ’' and it became this real Baroque, elaborate thing...
way beyond the original Disney film.
This is one of Charles'.
This is one of our two-man comics in which he would draw...
some of the characters and I would draw some and have them interact.
That was a great school of cartooning for me...
having to come up with clever retorts to him.
He was actually much cleverer and funnier than I was.
It got tiresome, but you had to do it. He was in charge.
I had this very definite, bad problem about Charles.
I think a lot of it had to do with my morbid sensitivity to the guy...
as well as his natural affinity to get in there and profit off it.
Robert was somewhat of a middleman.
It had this way of restricting...
or causing this terrible self-consciousness in me as a kid.
I was morbidly modest about my body. Sex was completely removed.
When it came time for me to become sexually aware when I was in puberty...
Sex was nowhere near in my life. I had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Sex was so heavily repressed. That's when the seizures started.
I had a seizure. And a seizure's like a point where your behavior becomes...
I'd have to get into the whole sex trip, which is an awful involved topic.
All I thought about when I was in my late teens and early 20s was sex.
I masturbated about four or five times a week. How frequently did you...
I don't masturbate anymore now that my sexual desires are completely dead.
Like I told you, I can't get an erection anymore.
I don't know whether it's one thing or a combination of things.
Maybe a combination of the medication and lack of external stimulation.
Maybe approaching old age has something to do with it. Who knows?
You need some external stimulation to keep up your interest.
Now that my sexual desires are gone, I'm not sure I want them back again.
My earliest sexual memories?
I remember being like four years old and getting erections.
I guess my aunt or my mother's sister...
Humping her legs and her shoes like under the table.
I remember going in my mother's closet. She had cowboy boots...
she wore when it rained...
and humping those in the closet.
And I remember singing while doing it.
Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
when I was about five or six I was sexually attracted to Bugs Bunny.
I cut out this Bugs Bunny off the cover of a comic book...
and carried it around with me in my pocket...
and took it out and looked at it periodically.
It got wrinkled from handling.
I asked my mother to iron it to flatten it out.
She did, and I was deeply disappointed because it got all brown and brittle...
and it crumbled apart.
What was it about Bugs Bunny that you found exciting?
I had this sexual attraction to cute cartoon characters.
You tell me! I don't know.
That all changed when I turned 12, and I became fixated on Sheena.
‘‘Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, ’' a TV show around '55, '56.
I became totally obsessed with Sheena and went to bed every night...
thinking about the things I wanted to do with Sheena.
Robert was very hung up on sex when he was a little kid...
even more so than I was.
- I was? You think so? - Yeah.
You were more inhibited as a child than I was, even sexually.
You were more afraid of women than I was as a young person.
When I was in high school, I had a few dates with girls.
When you were in high school, you didn't have any dates with anybody.
You were actually sort of good-Iooking.
I was a handsome, good-Iooking chap when I was a teenager.
But there was just something that was wrong with my personality.
The teachers hated him, the kids hated him.
High school was an absolute nightmare.
I was the most unpopular kid in the high school.
People were always picking on me and beating me up.
And the girls wouldn't have anything to do with me.
They treated me like I was the scum of the earth.
In this strip, I'm talking all about my problems with women...
starting with high school where I learned a lot about women...
because there was this guy named Skutch, this guy here...
who was like this mean bully...
but he was also very charming.
All the girls liked him. He was the dreamboat...
but he was also a bully.
My brother Charles was one of the guys he singled out for particular attention.
He had this gang of flunkies that hung around with him, with Skutch.
So I remember this scene...
where Skutch punches out my brother in the hallway at school.
It was a very sad sight for me to see.
Charles gave up trying to be popular or have girlfriends...
after everybody saw he couldn't fight back, that he was beat up by Skutch.
I've been living at home since I graduated from high school.
I made a few feeble attempts along the way.
You're no worse off than people that are in the world and have to deal with it.
But you got to take into consideration that I'm taking tranquilizers.
And that makes it a lot easier than it would otherwise be...
by taking these tranquilizers and antidepressants.
If it wasn't for them, I'd probably go completely crazy living with Mother.
I have to walk on eggs when I'm around her.
Yeah, you do.
You can't tell my mother the absolute truth.
She's in a heavy state of denial about a lot of things.
I don't think we should be talking about this.
- Where's my kitty cats? - About her mother, she's...
What the hell's going on?
She doesn't like you to talk about her mother who was a complete monster.
- What? - Fix that thing in the hallway.
- What thing? - The window.
What's wrong with it?
- It's some film equipment or something. - It's some kind of film equipment.
- Where are my kitty cats? - I don't know.
Don't worry about it. It's all gonna be out of here and back to normal.
Here it shows these girls talking about how one of their friends...
got a date with Skutch and how envious they all are.
This is how I felt about it.
I'm a little bitter about it, as you can see.
I show here how I thought that most teenage boys...
are very cruel and aggressive.
And if girls could see that I was more kind and sensitive, they would like me.
They were kind of impressed by the fact I could draw.
I couldn't understand why they liked these cruel, aggressive guys and not me.
I was more kind and sensitive, more like them.
I didn't realize they didn't want you to be like them, basically.
I felt very hurt and cruelly misunderstood...
because I considered myself talented and intelligent...
and yet I was not very attractive physically.
I didn't think those things mattered. It was what's inside that was important.
When I was 13 and 14 and trying to be a normal teenager, I was really a jerk.
I tried to act like I thought they were acting.
It came out all wrong and weird, so then I stopped completely...
and became a shadow, I wasn't even there.
People weren't aware that I was...
in the same world they were in.
That freed me completely because I wasn't under pressures to be normal.
So I got interested in old-time music, and went to the black section of town...
knocking on doors and looking for old records...
and things like that that would be unthinkable...
if you were going to be a normal teenager.
Starting about 17, I started being driven by that obsession that...
‘‘I'll go down in history as a great artist. That'll be my revenge.’’
This is my image celebrating Valentine's Day.
‘‘February 13, 1962.
I decided to reject conforming when society rejected me.
I've heard all about that 'be yourself' stuff.
When I'm myself, people think I'm nuts.
Guess I'll have to be satisfied with cats and old records.
Girls are just utterly out of my reach.
They won't even let me draw them.’’
All that changed after I got famous.
Absolutely, I would love to pose for you.
Anytime you want to come by and visit, that'd be really nice.
- Excellent. - I always wanted to see you again.
Some of the early ‘‘Weirdo’’ collages...
and also some publications.
We managed to track them down.
I think Crumb...
is basically the Brueghel of the last half of the 20th century.
There wasn't a Brueghel of the first half, but there is of the last half.
And that is Robert Crumb...
because he gives you that tremendous kind of impassion...
of lusting, suffering, crazed humanity...
in all sorts of bizarre, gargoyle-like allegorical forms.
He's got this very powerful imagination, which goes over the top a lot...
but it very seldom lies.
He's Mr. Natural.
He accepts women how they really are...
and makes them even more beautiful than they really...
Like that woman. I mean, she's really...
She's got energy, form and drive.
You can't push these women around.
They're not wimps. He gives power to women.
He made it okay for me to have a butt.
He did a drawing of me, which I really liked a lot. It was neat.
It showed my thighs as they really are. He helped me change my self-image.
I had felt so inadequate before. It was like I didn't know...
Believe me, Stevayne, you're adequate.
Oh, you're so adequate.
I feel Robert's work...
is one of the most pertinent social portraits...
of an era...
touching issues related to politics...
to sex, to drugs, to religion...
to the fine arts.
And I would say Robert is the Daumier of our time.
He's a very remarkable artist, indeed.
The tradition that I see him belonging to is, essentially...
the one of graphic art as social protest, social criticism...
which, of course, has extremely long roots.
There are elements of Goya in Crumb. Goya's sense of monstrosity...
comes out in those menacing bird-headed women of Crumb's for instance.
Robert! In front of all these people?
The undergrounds are alive and well.
Whole industry sprung up. They're still reprinting the early ones.
Number two, number four.
God only knows how many of those have been printed by now.
‘‘Puke and Explode. '’
It's called ‘‘Puke and Explode’’.
That's new. Who put that out? I don't know about these kids today.
I guess you really started all this. You created this whole thing.
I don't like to take credit for that.
Some of this stuff, I know nobody would.
I'm a really big fan of yours.
I'm wondering if there's any chance I can get an autograph from you.
I don't think so. I don't believe in giving autographs.
Okay, well thanks anyway.
- When are you actually moving? - Couple months.
France isn't perfect or anything.
But it's slightly less evil than the United States, I think.
But that's not why I'm moving.
Talk to my wife if you want to know why I'm moving.
We do have something here that we wanted to show you.
- Yeah? - Yeah. 1967 rock concert poster.
Extremely rare item.
It’s my only rock concert poster I ever did.
There's this legend I keep hearing. People telling me...
‘‘Somebody told me you used to live with the Grateful Dead in Haight Ashbury...
and you hung around with Jerry Garcia. '’
I never had anything to do with those guys. I hated that music.
I went to a couple of those rock concerts and just fell asleep.
Found it completely boring, that psychedelic music.
I've got something for you. I want to tell you a little secret.
It's called ‘‘Om Mani Padme Hum’’.
This is where I get recognized more than anyplace in the world, on Haight Street.
- Amazing. - I know. These are my people!
People come to me and say, ‘‘R. Crumb!’’
Sometimes some guy will sit with me...
and chew my ear off about all his hopes and dreams.
Usually it's some broken-down hippie-pest guy.
It's never like a beautiful young 20-year-old girl.
It's just so interesting to come here and draw people.
That's the main reason I come here, just to watch people.
That girl was sitting here one day. Beautiful girl.
I drew this other girl. She came up and wanted the drawing.
So I cut it out, gave it to her.
- Good way to meet girls. - Right.
I drew this girl. She invited me to her house.
Unfortunately, she wasn't very attractive.
You kept the picture, I see.
It's ironic that you're so identified with the '60s.
At the time, it didn't seem you fit in with that flower child thing.
I used to come here every day and try and be one of them.
My main motivation was, get some of that free love action.
but I wasn't too good at it.
People would ask, ‘‘Are you a narc?’’
They would move away from you at the love-in. I look like I do now.
Exactly. You, in effect...
- You did have a costume. - It wasn't the right costume.
I remember Janis Joplin giving me this piece of advice.
‘‘Crumb, what's the matter with you? Don't you like girls?’’
I said, ‘‘Of course I like girls. What do you think?’’
She said, ‘‘Just let your hair grow long, get a satin, billowy shirt...
velvet jackets and bell bottoms and platform shoes.
You'll do all right.’’
I just couldn't do that.
The whole thing was too silly to me. I couldn't get with it.
Here's a real beautiful one.
I should get...
The work in this book, the art, the feelings...
are what made me fall in love with Robert.
The way he saw colors and the way he saw women.
When I was 17 years old, I looked a lot like that.
So I was what he had been drawing.
I was the embodiment of what he had been drawing for years.
It's such a sweet, romantic vision of things.
He did this book. It took him, I think, a year.
That was his life.
He had just finished the book days before we met.
My parents were always fighting all the time.
I used to say, ‘‘I'm never getting married.’’
My father said, ‘‘You'll marry the first one that comes along.’’ He was right.
Robert always had a sketchbook or two going.
He was constantly drawing.
If we were in a restaurant, he'd draw on the place mat.
If we were on the bus, he'd draw on his bus ticket.
I had this big change in 1965 and '66.
It was visionary.
Very powerful, kind of knock-you-on-your-ass...
This is my sketchbook for 1966 that covers that period.
I took this very weird drug.
Supposedly it was LSD, but it had a really weird effect.
It made my brain all fuzzy.
This effect lasted for a couple of months.
I started getting these images, cartoon characters like this...
that I'd never drawn before with these big shoes and everything.
I let go of trying to have any coherent, fixed idea about what I was doing.
I started being able to draw these stream-of-consciousness comic strips.
Just kind of making up stuff. It didn't have to make any sense.
It could be stupid. It didn't make any difference.
All the characters that I used for the next several years...
came to me during this period.
These fit into this vision I was having.
It was a revelation of some seamy side of America's subconscious.
When I was drawing this, there was this young girl. She was 11.
She said, ‘‘Isn't that cute?’’
To me, it was like a horror show, this whole thing.
And she thought it was really cute and happy looking.
To me, it was like a drawing of the horror of America.
There were these hippie underground papers starting up in '66, '67.
Every town had one or two of them.
They would print anything if it was related to the psychedelic experience...
or the hippie ethic.
So I started submitting...
these LSD-inspired comics I had been doing...
to these papers, and they liked them.
Then this guy came who suggested I do a whole issue of his paper.
It was called ‘‘Yarrowstalks’’. I did that, and that went over big.
He said, ‘‘Why don't you do psychedelic comic books, and I'll publish them?’’
So I set to work, and I did two whole issues of ‘‘Zap Comix’’.
Crumb was incredibly exciting and incredibly hot.
There were just a handful of us...
doing this new form of comics.
And what he was doing was just more innovative...
than what any of us had even thought of.
It was fun to be a part of that and to see ‘‘Zap’’ suddenly everywhere.
From this concept of Robert's, this fantasy of doing his own comic book...
with a glossy cover and actually printed...
to seeing it turning up in all the windows on Haight Street, around town...
hearing people talk about it...
having the other artists show up and wanting to be a part of it.
It happened very quickly. It seems to me it happened in a matter of weeks.
Crumb gave the ownership of ‘‘Zap’’ to the artists. There was no editor.
There was a certain point where it seemed underground comics...
could get into the big time...
and Crumb always seemed reluctant to push that sort of thing.
They were offering him 100,000 bucks...
just to start talking.
Robert turned it down in two seconds.
Aline screamed in the background, ‘‘What are you doing? We need money.’’
Forget it! I'm not going on ‘‘Saturday Night Live’’.
The Rolling Stones wanted me to do an album cover.
A couple other deals like that. I said ‘‘No.’’
This is not something you see every day in America...
where selling out is everybody's ambition.
After about a year of recognition and all the bullshit of fame...
I just said, ‘‘Fuck it’’...
and I started drawing the dark part of myself again in the comics...
which I'd always kept hidden before.
I was used to what he had been doing...
which was really quite sweet.
Then he did this one that was...
just incredibly hostile to women...
very sexually hostile.
I wasn't expecting it. I was really shocked and taken aback.
And just kind of like, whack!
It's hard for me to believe...
that he can't channel himself into doing better work.
I like a lot of his work. And I don't miss the satirical aspect of it.
Then I have a different reaction.
Perhaps one of being really turned off and disgusted.
And you know this cartoon, ‘‘Joe Blow’’...
is one that I thought about a lot in that light.
On the one hand, it's a satire of a 1950s...
the healthy facade of the American family.
It kind of exposes the sickness under the surface.
But at the same time you sense...
that Crumb is getting off on it himself in some other way.
On another level, it's a self-indulgent orgy in a fantasy.
And the fantasy, specifically, this story...
is a story about a father...
who commands his daughter to give him a blow job.
She does, and they wind up having sex.
And the little Leave-It-To-Beaver type brother comes running in...
and sees the father and his sister, and he's shocked.
He runs to the mother to tell her.
And Mom comes out of a closet wearing a sort of S&M getup.
And the little boy says, ‘‘Oh, cool.’’
The next thing, Mom and son are having sex.
The whole cartoon ends with the parents saying...
‘‘Gee, we should spend more time with the kids. '’ Very funny.
So you read something like this...
and I think that it has gone over the line...
from satire of a 1950s...
hygienic family in denial...
into something which is just Crumb producing pornography.
I think this theme in his work is omnipresent.
It's part of an arrested juvenile vision.
Crumb's material comes out of a deep sense of the absurdity of human life.
At a certain psychic level, there aren't any heroes, villains or heroines.
Even the victims are comic.
It's this which people in America find rather hard to take...
because it conflicts with their basic feelings.
That sort of mixture of utopianism on one hand and Puritanism on the other...
which is only another kind of utopianism...
which has given us the kind of messy discourse that we have today.
So Crumb, like all great satirists, is an outsider in his own country.
Jesus! The fucking raging epithet music...
coming out of every car, every store, every person's head.
If they don't have noisy radios, they got earphones on like...
‘‘Motherfuckin' cock suckin' son of a bitch.’’
That's a lot of aggression. A lot of anger, a lot of rage.
Everybody's walking advertisements.
They've got advertisements on their clothes.
Go walking around with ‘‘Adidas’’ written across their chests...
or ‘‘49ers’’ on their hats.
Jesus. It's pathetic. It's pitiful.
The whole culture's one unified field...
of bought, sold, market-researched everything.
It used to be people fermented their own culture.
It took hundreds of years, and it evolved over time.
That's gone in America.
People now don't even have any concept that there ever was...
a culture outside of this thing that's created to make money.
Whatever's the biggest, latest thing, they're into it.
You just get disgusted after a while with humanity...
for not having more, kind of like...
intellectual curiosity about what's behind all this jive bullshit.
Charles and I talk quite a bit about things.
- We don't talk that much. - Yeah, we do.
We hold aloof from each other for the most part.
You spend all your time watching television...
and doing your crossword puzzles.
I don't watch television. I turn it on because it puts me to sleep.
It's a good way to get to sleep.
We're two recluses living in the same house.
I wake up at 3:00 a.m. and it's still on.
You do most of the talking in the relationship, Mother.
There's no doubt about that.
You told me that even though you take medication, you still feel depressed.
Yeah, but not as much as I would if I wasn't taking the medication.
What would happen if you stopped taking that stuff?
I don't know. I tried it a couple of times...
and I didn't like what was starting to happen to me.
- He gets insomnia. - I felt I was becoming unhinged.
So I got back on them in a big hurry.
I tried this a couple of times, about two or three times.
Do you still think they're picking my brain, Mother?
You have nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of.
He's a good person.
People like Charles. You know.
Some people like me and some don't.
I'm a very quiet, well-behaved citizen.
- I've gone from one extreme to another. - You've gone in a complete circle.
You used to make trouble on the streets.
One of the last times I went out with you, we were walking around...
and you went up to some old lady on the street...
and started drilling her about her spiritual life...
and she got frightened and threatened to call the police.
Charles goes up to these strangers on the streets, starts raving at them.
He was just a kid having fun.
- This was when he was about 30. - No, he wasn't!
He's still doing that kind of stuff.
Now he doesn't leave the house. He got in trouble whenever he went out.
Will you give me one good reason for leaving the house?
At least he's not out taking illegal drugs.
- No, he's taking legal drugs. - I'm taking legal dope.
Or being married and making some woman miserable.
This is true.
One thing that kind of... I spent all this money.
And he's got these $200 teeth upstairs and he won't wear them.
- They're too uncomfortable. - At first.
You gotta leave them in there. Then you don't know they're there.
I never go anywhere, see anybody.
What does he need them for? To chew food or what?
Pride in his own appearance.
He never goes out. What does he care what he looks like?
I take a bath about once in six weeks.
I believe in having a certain pride in yourself.
In a way not that your ego gets out of hand and you're an egomaniac...
Pride can't exist except in relation to other people.
Yeah. That's right.
I don't know. Your hygiene habits are pretty good.
I'm never constipated. That's about all I can say for myself.
That's something. You don't have hemorrhoids? Then you're doing good.
Your father used to have trouble that way, with constipation.
He was constipated all the time.
- You were really obsessed with... - I could say something, but I won't.
You always gave us kids castor oil. You were obsessed with constipation.
When all you kids were real little, I had to take care of you by myself.
That period where you used to try giving us all enemas? That didn't work.
- I never gave you enemas. - Somebody...
You always threatened to give us enemas if we didn't behave properly.
- I did not! - Somebody tried to give me an enema.
- She wouldn't admit it, but... - That it's not a regular suburban house?
It's a suburban house...
that looks like ‘‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane’’ or something.
She has weird trinkets around?
She has cats. The whole place smells like pee.
Don't say that on the film.
She doesn't want people in the house.
The next thing my mother knows, this whole crew is filing in the door.
‘‘Oh, no pictures! No way, Jose’’ she says.
Terry says, ‘‘No, we're going upstairs. We're gonna do it in Charles' room.’’
Of course then she got into it, and after a while, you couldn't shut her up.
She talked on.
She chattered on and on. It was awful.
- What year is this? 1970. - I'd just met you.
This is when I first met you in 1969.
That's me. I remember that.
- This doesn’t look like me. - You're right. Let me touch it up.
The nose is too bulbous.
The eyes are too far apart also.
It's too late now, really. This was 18 years ago.
- God, it just... - How about this drawing of you?
I remember we were in this restaurant.
This is ridiculous. Oh, good.
- I'm still rolling. - She almost fell off the roof.
But she can't see the notebook. That's me?
That's you with your hair dryer.
That's me. I like that drawing.
That's one of the few drawings I liked.
So you're going to sell these books and I don't get a percentage?
This whole case of sketchbooks...
I'm giving to this guy for a house in France.
I had a lot of drawings here. What do I get out of this?
- What drawings? - Several. I drew that!
- No, Aline drew those. - You sure?
- I drew that. - No, Aline drew those.
That's Aline when I first knew her.
You went from this page, where I was on it...
and like two pages later, it's Aline?
- How did that happen? - It was a crazy period.
- That's horrible. - That's you and that's Aline.
You really hated women then. Do you think it's improved since?
Yeah. I hate them a little bit less now.
Guys like me, I like certain kinds of women's legs.
- I'm not masochistic. - But you don't like feet!
- You're not heavily into feet. - I'm not fixated, but I can get into it.
I can have an orgasm playing with someone's foot.
It's not a real narrow fixation.
It's that the way the mind of the person who’s interested in legs and feet...
is very different from the mind of the person who's interested in breasts.
Breast men tend to be aggressive, outgoing, athletic.
- People who like the lower body... - She's got these types categorized.
People who like the lower body tend to be frightened, introverted.
It all has to do with being down on the floor when you were a scared child...
and looking up at that big tower of Mommy.
What's down there? The feet and legs. That's where the security is.
Women go around feeling victimized by men all the time.
They feel like the men have the power...
and the area where women can take the power from men is through sex.
Men have that fetishistic twist to their minds because they have that ability...
to concentrate on one thing to the exclusion of all else...
and can really be manipulated sexually, where women are not as susceptible.
You are so frightening. Jesus!
Women are susceptible to power. That's what I find.
Any display of power and, ‘‘Oh, he's so interesting!
Who's that man who's being so obnoxious and arrogant? He's so interesting.’’
I'm a career pornographer. I've been at it for 16 years.
It was what I was always destined for. I always loved pornography.
I took my birthday money when I turned 18 because I was legal...
and went to the adult bookstore and bought pornography.
I went through some other jobs, but always sexualized them...
so finding pornography was just right.
I'm the editor of ‘‘Jugs’’, ‘‘Leg Show’’ and ‘‘Bust Out’’ right now.
I was also the creator of ‘‘Big Butt’’ magazine.
We've arranged with Robert to do a photo shoot today...
which will appear in ‘‘Leg Show’’ magazine.
We’re going to have four or five women who we think Robert will like...
but there's never any telling with Robert Crumb.
Here's a girl I wish I could've gotten for the Crumb shoot.
This is a mother-daughter dominance team from L.A.
‘‘Mother taught me to smother,’’ is this girl's motto.
We're doing this for the Christmas issue.
The mother's wearing a red outfit. We wanted them to do something festive.
He's a person that would rather be a brain in a jar that a person in a body.
Basically, we both focus on my body sexually.
Robert's not too oriented towards normal sex.
There wasn't much in the way of normal sex in our relationship...
but lots of piggyback rides and wrestling around.
He liked to sit on my shoe a lot.
He never takes his shirt off.
He likes to not exist.
Robert is an admitted compulsive masturbator.
He masturbates four or five times a day.
He told me he masturbates to his own comics.
I'm sure Picasso did.
I think probably, yeah, some do.
But I don't think many artists...
give you such a wide range of masturbatory possibility as Crumb.
That is, if you like what he likes.
Does he do that?
Robert doesn't exaggerate anything in his comics.
The woman are exactly the way he wants them...
and he accurately portrays himself...
as the skinny, bad posture, myopic man he is.
Some people wonder if he doesn’t exaggerate the size of his penis...
which appears awfully big in the comics.
Robert does not exaggerate anything.
He is endowed with one of the biggest penises in the world.
Why do I have my particular sexual proclivities?
I don't know.
Ask a psychiatrist. I don't know what it's about.
I always thought Robert was just kidding about them.
You thought I was kidding?
That he was trying to be funny.
Yeah, that's right.
I couldn't imagine how anyone could be serious about these things.
It was complete chaos, this relationship.
The crying and fighting started soon, actually.
You cried the third time I'd been with you.
What's so horrible about crying? Why is that painful to you?
‘‘Oh, my God! How can I deal with it? What should I do? She's crying.’’
So you're saying that 20 years later you still have no idea...
what you were doing that could've contributed to that?
No, I guess I don't.
It was confusing because he was totally irresponsible.
He would call and say, ‘‘I love you, miss you, can't wait to see you.’’
He was supposed to be 200 miles away.
He'd say, ‘‘I'll see you in a week or two.’’
I'd go out to buy groceries two hours later and see him with another woman.
Then he'd wonder why I kicked him or got mad.
Do you think I'm sadistic?
He would always act like he was passively a victim.
I used to call it his ‘‘Ashley Wilkes’’ routine...
that he would pull...
where he was just this passive victim of circumstance...
in other people's desires.
When really he was just trying to get away with whatever he could...
and walking all over people.
I walked all over people? Like who? You?
You think you were a good guy, a nice boyfriend to me at the time.
I think I'm not a very romantic person, that's all.
I don't think I've ever actually been in love.
I have many letters where you said ‘‘I love you’’ hundreds of times.
I was abusing the word. I had this overpowering...
I was very fond of you. Ouch!
I was fond of you...
and had this overpowering lust for you that you could possibly imagine.
But I wouldn't say I was in love. I just don't have it in me.
- I've never been in love or jealous. - That's horrible.
The only woman I've ever been in love with is Sophie, my darling daughter.
You made me mess up.
I did books in the '70s that were self-deprecating.
My self-hatred was really intense then.
Did you ever see this one? ‘‘Twisted Sisters. ’’
Nice cover. I show myself on the toilet.
It got no recognition. Nobody bought it.
I asked the publisher how it was doing.
He said he was using it for insulation in the walls of his barn.
What is the gist of your comics? What are they like?
My sex life, my phobias...
what a disgusting human being I think I am.
Your mother's featured in it a lot, too.
It's the way I can tolerate my mother, is by drawing...
really hideous drawings of her.
Like this, for example.
After Sophie was born, my mother visited me.
She was so irritating and so unhelpful.
It talks about how she couldn't hold the baby 'cause she'd had her nails wrapped.
My mother yells in the restaurant, ‘‘Got any Sweet N' Low, dear?’’
A quiet fern-bar restaurant in San Francisco...
and every person turned around to look.
She came to the airport in an Afro, dressed up in this trendy outfit.
Robert and I looked like immigrants just off the boat.
- Is your father on the bottom there? - That's my mother's husband.
She had him dressed in a leisure suit.
When she first met him, he wore baggy brown suits...
he had short hair and he was fat.
She put him on a diet, and put him in safari outfits...
and made him grow sideburns.
But he was still ‘‘shlubby’’. He had ‘‘shlubby’’ posture.
But he was ‘‘trendily’’ dressed.
Kind of follows along after her like that.
- What does she think about your comics? - She doesn't see them.
- She's not interested. - She doesn't know you're a cartoonist?
Unconsciously she must know there's things she doesn't want to know about.
And she doesn't take in very much about anybody anyway.
She's not too interested.
She saw this painting and a bunch of other paintings, and she said...
‘‘Those are nice. Who did them?’’ I said, ‘‘I did.’’
She said, ‘‘I didn't know you painted.’’
I mean, she sent me to art school!
You just change the subject. ‘‘What are we having for dinner?’’
One thing you've learned is the importance of black. That's good.
Why did you choose this figure in particular?
I like these photos. They're powerful for some reason.
This one was easy to draw.
Finally picked attractive ones. Some of them are ugly, you know.
- She's a mess. - Yeah, she is.
The text talks about her being an alcoholic reprobate.
They picked her up off the street.
This one. Oh, God! Looks like a monster.
In my drawing of her, I made her cuter than she really is...
because I acquired the cuteness curse when I worked at American Greetings...
which I can't shake.
You got the tilt of her head right.
That's hard to do.
You have to really... The proportions of this to this.
Is it the same or shorter?
I did a lot of erasing at first.
You haven't learned how to cheat yet to get the desired effect you want.
Like what? Draw over the top of a Xerox?
You want to capture a certain thing about this woman's face.
- A certain defiance you see in there. - Yeah, I didn't get it.
Exaggerate those little things that give her that look.
Like the way her teeth slightly show. She's got a slight sneer.
I try to do that, but it's hard with pencil.
Just exaggerate, cheat a little. Like the tilt of the head...
and the sneer, you would emphasize that.
You have to consciously make a decision...
of what you want to bring out in the face.
I did that here, but it still didn't work out.
It's very subtle in that photo. It's very subtle.
My drawing doesn't capture the hate.
It does in a way. You've got that open mouth. That's the key to the thing.
- That sneer, you know? - Baring the teeth.
Yeah. That's key.
They obviously ordered her to sit down and don't move.
They're going to take her picture, and just sit there.
You can see she doesn't like it.
It'd be good if you could take life drawing.
You didn't go to art school, and look, you're rich and famous.
We're not talking about rich and famous. We’re talking about learning to draw.
A lot of my recent works appear in this ‘‘Weirdo’’ magazine.
These are the kind of guys who read my work. It's an ode to the weirdo reader.
The hurt, sensitive guy who doesn't fit in with the normal people.
Like these people.
She's saying, ‘‘I always hated the Three Stooges.’’
Of course, he loves the Three Stooges.
This is my source material.
I couldn't find pictures in magazines of ordinary, modern...
street scenes in America.
So I persuaded this guy in Sacramento to spend a day with me driving around...
'cause I don't drive and couldn't do it myself.
Just to take snapshots of ordinary street corners in modern America.
This has been indispensable to me.
You can't remember these things, to draw these modern light poles and crap.
All this junk on every suburban street.
I've used it in a lot of places.
It's background here. Stuff like that.
In my story here, I used it also.
This whole background, this stuff, I put it over here.
You can't make up this crap. It's too complicated.
On this cover I used a bunch of photos to take that stuff.
In the real world, this stuff is not created to be visually pleasing.
It's just accumulation of the modern industrial world.
People don't even notice. They block it out.
Robert and Sophie, dinner's ready. Hurry up.
Go sit down. Get out of here.
- Who, me? - No, her.
She's helping me.
Now she's break-dancing. Get out of here.
Come over here and get your plate.
I'll trade you the gum for the plate.
Gotta have my starch and my fat.
Look at all this food.
It's fun to eat supper with your family.
Especially where there is good food on the table.
At least you could manage to be on time.
Your mother goes to all the trouble to prepare a fine meal.
- It's only common courtesy, Chuck. - I know.
But I couldn't help it. I was late home from school.
Once I reached adolescence, it was the late '50s. Everybody I knew...
their families had nothing to do with the advertisement for itself...
that the culture was presenting on the TV screen.
- Why not? - Do I have to have a reason?
- All your friends will be there. - I don't care.
Chuck! Don't talk with your mouth full.
Chew your food well. Chew and chew.
Doesn't it taste extra good that way?
The whole thing is a big false front...
that was suffocating, and so dreary and depressing.
They grew up in the depression. I understand. They went through the war.
They wanted this thing that was so tight, unthreatening and flat.
They wanted a dull lifestyle. They wanted Perry Como.
They wanted this Ozzie and Harriet shell we grew up in. The whole thing had...
this creepy, nightmarish, grotesque quality.
This is the first issue of ‘‘Zap Comix’’ that I did in late 1967.
It was the beginning of all this underground comic nonsense.
It was all very LSD inspired.
A lot of these are things I redrew from sketchbooks.
This ‘‘Whiteman’’ character. A lot of this stuff...
I didn't realize when I was doing it what it was about or connected to.
I realized afterwards, this is really about my father.
gung-ho American kind of guy.
A typical World War II generation man.
When my father died in '82, my aunt gave me stuff my father had sent her.
One of the things was this book he wrote, ‘‘Training People Effectively’’.
I'm not sure what he did for a living in the last years of his life.
It had something to do with employee motivation for a corporation.
Here's a photo.
I was reading about this syndrome in Japan that Japanese businessmen have.
Something about some smiling disease...
where they have a fixed smile on their face all the time.
I think my father had that.
The article said it was a sign of deep depression.
He didn't smile when he was home.
The smile dropped as soon as he came home.
He was a grim guy. He fought in the war and everything.
He had a hard-ass attitude about life...
and thought my mother was mollycoddling all of us, which she was.
All three of his sons ended up being wimpy, nerdy weirdos.
It broke his heart, I think. He wanted one of us to become a Marine.
My father was hotheaded. He'd just blow his stack.
He'd lash out and hit you real hard.
When I was five years old, on Christmas this whole thing happened...
where he blew his stack at me and busted my collarbone.
- When you were five? - Yeah.
Charles had a penchant for getting in trouble.
He was diabolical as a kid.
And my father would beat him unmercifully...
for these things he was doing, crimes he was committing.
It just made him worse.
I had this subconscious desire to be punished.
- Why? - It had something to do with my father.
It had something to do with being brought up by a sadistic bully.
There's some connection there between the two of them...
although I'm not really sure what it is.
What was your mom like when you were a kid?
She was an amphetamine addict. The amphetamines would make her act crazy...
and do and say really crazy things.
It had an absolutely devastating effect, I think, on all five of us kids.
It had a devastating effect on me, anyway.
How did your parents get along?
They got along well up until the time I was 9 or 10 years old.
But after Beatie started taking amphetamines to keep her weight down...
they had a terrible time.
They were screaming and yelling at each other all the time...
morning, noon and night.
- She'd scratch at the old man's face. - Till it looked like ground hamburger.
He would put makeup on when he went to work...
in an attempt to cover up the scratches on his face.
The old man came to me and said...
‘‘lf you don't go out and get a job, I’II make your life a hell on earth.’’
That's exactly what he started to do, to make my life a hell on earth.
So to get him off my back, I took a job as a telephone solicitor...
for the ‘‘Philadelphia Inquirer’’.
I stuck it out for a year...
because I was afraid of what he would do to me if I didn't.
That's the last time you held a job, though, right?
And it only lasted for a year. That was back in '69.
The old man was always trying to make productive citizens out of us.
When I was a teenager, he forced me to use my drawing talent...
to draw pictures of houses, then ask the people if they wanted to buy them.
- That was the old man's idea, wasn't it? - Completely his idea. He made me do it.
It was a hateful job.
When I first got well-known, he was proud of me.
He heard I was getting well-known for my work, but he never saw it.
I don't think he would've approved.
He would've disapproved of it on so-called ‘‘moral grounds’’.
Somebody told me that someone at work showed him one of my comics...
and that's when he stopped talking to me.
He wouldn't speak to me after he saw the stuff I was doing in the early '70s.
The story I had most trouble with is this one.
I got two pages into it and thought...
‘‘This is too negative, too twisted, too upsetting. I’ve gotta stop this.’’
I quit working on it. I threw the page in the garbage can.
At some point, Aline came into my studio for something...
and I decided, ‘‘I'll show her this and see what she thinks about it.’’
So I pulled it out of the garbage can.
I said, ‘‘What do you think about this?
I threw it away. I didn't want to continue it.
It's too weird, too disturbing.’’
She read it and said, ‘‘You have to finish this.
You've got to see this through.’’
I said, ‘‘She's a woman. She said I have to do it, so I'll do it.’’
So Flakey Foont answers the door and there's a girl's body standing there.
But what you see is Mr. Natural's head and beard where her head should be.
That's how it starts. Flakey Foont is confused by that.
And Mr. Natural comes galloping in...
riding the girl around the room.
Her body's very frisky, and you don't see her head at all.
You just see Mr. Natural's beard where her head should be.
Then she lands in a split.
And Mr. Natural starts talking about what an amazing body this woman has.
But the head was always a problem...
'cause she had such an obnoxious personality.
Flakey Foont is shocked and horrified when he sees she doesn't have a head.
Mr. Natural explains, ‘‘She was obnoxious, so I got rid of the head.
You wanted her, lusted after her.
Now you can have her because her head's missing.’’
Then he explains how he took the head off...
and topped the neck with a cap.
Then Mr. Natural says he discovered...
that she had a second, smaller brain in her butt...
and that is what's making the body function.
Then he gives Foont directions on how to feed her. You take the cap off...
and put this funnel down her neck.
Mr. Natural pulls out this mannequin head and says...
‘‘lf you take her outside, you've got to put this head on her...
so people aren't shocked and horrified by a headless girl walking around.’’
Mr. Natural leaves and says, ‘‘Don't say I never did anything for you.’’
He gives the girl to Foont, and Foont's getting excited.
He's got this wondrous body all to himself to do with whatever he wants.
He says, ‘‘I like it better with just the cap.’’ He knocks the fake head off.
He's leading her to the wall...
and she accidentally steps on the fake head and smashes it.
He pushes her against the wall, pulls her clothes off...
and he's admiring her firm butt.
This is the part where I get excited when I'm working on it.
I enjoy drawing the female form.
I make a lot of fuss to make sure the figure comes out the way I want it.
The males, I don't care what they look like.
So he starts to fuck her.
He penetrates her from behind, and he's getting really excited.
At the same time he feels guilty.
While he's in the middle of coming...
he imagines her severed head...
and then her face condemning him.
She says, ‘‘You little shit!’’
Cut to Mr. Natural. He's home, phone's ringing.
‘‘I got home an hour ago.’’ Yeah, it's Foont. He's feeling guilty.
Foont wants to bring her back. He can't handle it.
Mr. Natural says, ‘‘Okay, bring her over.
Make sure you put the head back on before you take her outside.’’
He realizes the head's been smashed.
He doesn't know what to do.
Actually, a lot of these poses in these panels...
I took from freeze-framing the Fly Girls on ‘‘In Living Color’’.
He ties up a shirt into a ball and puts it on top of the cap.
Then he puts a hat on.
He pushes her in the car.
We cut to Mr. Natural's house.
Mr. Natural's saying he's going to regret it if he doesn't keep her.
Mr. Natural says, ‘‘Forget it. We'll put the head back.’’
Mr. Natural unscrews the clamp, pulls the pipe out of her.
He reaches in.
This is probably the most sickening, disturbing panel in the story.
Aline says it's the most disturbing part of the whole thing.
He's pulling hard, and he pulls her head back out by her tongue.
Her head was actually inside her body all the time.
Foont is very shocked, then relieved that her head is back.
Mr. Natural says, ‘‘Old African witch doctor stuff. Nothing special.’’
And she says, ‘‘That was so weird!’’ Mr. Natural says, ‘‘Yep.’’
Then they both realize the head's back, the trouble's back.
She says what happened to her and what did Mr. Natural do to her...
and where does he get his crazy ideas?
At this point, Foont feels guilty and starts apologizing to the devil girl...
for having done the deed to her when she didn't have her head.
She says, ‘‘What are you saying? ’'
She realizes that Mr. Natural handed her over to Foont for him to play with.
She says, ‘‘You gave me to that shmuck to play with as if I were a piece of meat.’’
He says, ‘‘What the hell's the difference? ’'
He tries to get away and she's chasing him.
In the end, she's raging with anger and she says...
‘‘Where's a butcher knife? I'm going to cut both your heads off!’’
Typical comic book ending.
I see a theme...
running through his work that is very frightening.
And it's the woman with her head either cut off or somehow distorted...
something done to it so that nothing is left but the body.
And the body, of course, you can have sex with.
When Crumb draws that little monster, Mr. Natural...
doing things you or I would not normally think of doing with a headless woman...
it is not intended, I imagine, to be apologia for beheading...
or an apologia for rape.
But it is an acknowledgement that these kinds of fantasy...
actually do dwell in homo sapiens, they're there.
I'm saying that it's very irresponsible to put...
dangerous sexual fantasies on paper...
and make them available to the public.
It's important for women to not just run in horror from pornographic images...
and immediately think they represent oppression...
and the power of men to degrade women.
And to think, sometimes, about the fact that they often are...
They're fantasies of having power.
They're fantasies of being able to dominate...
that come out of a fear of precisely the opposite.
Fear of not being able to be attractive to women.
And fears of powerlessness in general.
How do you feel about the way he depicts women in his comics?
He depicts his id in its pure form.
The dark side of human nature is in every person.
That's what I was drawn to in his work.
That he could illustrate that really clearly.
It's unusual to see it. I think it's always there.
Does any of that bother you?
He's not like that in other ways as a person.
He gets it out in his artwork.
He fools around with other women. How do you deal with that?
I fool around with other men.
I have hostilities toward women. I admit it.
It's out in the open. I have to put it out there.
Sometimes I think it's a mistake. I should never have let it out.
I'd be more well-Ioved.
The whole thing would be easier and cleaner if I didn't let it out.
But it's in there, and it's very strong.
And it ruthlessly...
forces itself out of me onto the paper...
for better or worse.
When I was 9 or 10, my brother collected ‘‘Zap Comix’’.
When I saw those, they really deeply, deeply...
I was deeply upset. I looked at them and thought...
‘‘This is adulthood? This is what adult women are?
This is what I grew up into? ’'
It was horrifying.
I wonder if you think about the effect on people who read it...
or what you're validating for boys.
I just hope that somehow...
revealing that truth about myself is somehow helpful.
I hope it is. But I have to do it. Maybe I shouldn't be allowed.
Maybe I should be locked up and my pencils taken away from me.
I just don't know. I really can't say.
I can't defend myself.
I was with my daughter Sophie watching ‘‘Goodfellows’’ on videotape.
The violent part horrified her so deeply she started getting a stomach ache.
I shut it off, wouldn't let her watch it.
I think it's a great movie, truthful movie. I got a lot out of seeing it.
It's obviously not for a kid.
Sometimes certain harsh realities of life...
You've got to protect your kids a little bit from that.
They don't understand a lot of things yet.
Not everything's for children. Not everything's for everybody.
Have you gotten criticism about the way you draw black people?
Oh, yeah, but it all came from white liberals.
Here's an example of the kind of thing I'm talking about in ‘‘Ooga Booga’’.
It's actually a mockery of black people.
It's a vomiting up of Crumb's own racism...
his own deepest hostilities and fears.
If you have a knee-jerk reaction, and that's as far as you get...
then you say he's a racist.
But once you think about how he's toying with that...
how he's shoving it in your face...
you start to think about your attitudes...
and how the stereotypes came about, and it gets complicated.
All that stuff I did in the late '60s...
I didn't really know what it was about when I did it.
It was very instinctive. Somehow LSD liberated me in this way...
that allowed me to put it down and not worry about what it meant.
I had a vague idea that it meant something...
but it was later that I'd look at it, analyze it and see what it's about.
Somehow the term ‘‘nigger hearts’’ just came into my mind...
as a product.
It's like it's some black, deep thing...
in American collective mind or something...
that has to do with turning everything over for a buck.
I'm not sure exactly, but it's some message like that.
Quite a number of people these days would like...
this nice, milky vision of culture in which it's all improving...
and leads us all to this nice little pie-in-the-sky moral heaven...
where nobody's nasty to anybody else.
But the only thing is that literature, culture, art...
isn't put there to have that pleasant, normative effect.
Conservatives like to think great works of art lead us towards democracy.
There were speeches in Shakespeare that were so full of hatred for the mob...
they're passionately elitist, passionately antidemocratic.
What do you with someone like Celine, a Nazi sympathizer yet a great novelist?
What do you do with practically anybody who's got a vision of the world...
not in accord with the present standards at Berkeley?
They're all wearing Raiders and 49ers jackets.
Sophie wants us to get her a 49ers jacket.
Why do you want to live in the midst of it?
Like Hamlet, I'm too scared to kill myself.
You gonna move to the south of France? You gonna miss all this?
I'II be out of here in a couple more months.
I can't live in it. I can't take it.
They can't wait to have the money to get their hands on this stuff.
They live for it.
It's a beautiful world.
You gonna finish this one soon?
It depends on when I have a chance to pick up an oil brush again.
You worked on this recently, right? Did you do something to this recently?
When was the last time I painted? I was working on that thing of Dian...
that portrait of that New York floozie you were running with.
- This one? - This is a portrait number.
You put things together and watch the paint do stuff.
How come you put that metallic-Iooking brassiere on her?
Her personality was like that. She had a hard, armored personality.
She was a broad underneath it.
She would find that thing you put on her really disturbing.
It just reflects the personality, an icy, crazed expression in the eyes.
But there's a warmth and reluctance in the smile.
- You know what I mean? - Interesting.
- She's in therapy now. - She is?
She doesn't need therapy. She fucks too hard.
How do you cure that except by death?
You start from a blob. When you do ink work, you start from a line.
Being fixated with...
Like that one. This is also an example of being fixated with line.
I started getting into very detailed...
You can see a very distinct line thing in the character of it.
You're pleased with this when you look at it now?
I like the style a lot.
This is Van Gogh shooting himself.
- In a cornfield. - What's the corn about?
It's like that Walt Whitman line:
‘‘Quintillions ripen and the quintillions green.’’
He was out picking fruit, a transient picker.
He came to this realization: the abundance of the farm thing.
The abundance of plant growth.
He wrote this line: ‘‘Quintillions ripen and the quintillions green.’’
- The same thing with corn. - A stylized Van Gogh painting.
Corn has infinite ability, like primal nature.
- What's with Van Gogh shooting himself? - His mind went to this place.
There's this infinite abundance, like in an ear of corn.
This is the first oil painting you ever did, isn't it?
It's the first oil I ever did. Yeah.
You never drew before, and it suddenly just came out of you.
It's like something was released inside of you.
When I had that first epileptic fit in sixth grade...
I was drawing a picture of my face with charcoal in art class.
I said, ‘‘Hey, you can draw.’’ It started working out.
It was the first time I had this artistic experience.
It was so violent to me that I had a fucking seizure.
I ended up in the hospital the next day.
This is probably one of the last comic covers Charles ever did.
It might be the very last one. His psychotic bunny rabbits.
In our late teens, I persuaded Charles...
that we should send away for ‘‘The Famous Artists Talent Test.’’
They had ads in magazines. We each sent away for this test.
I did mine legitimately, the way you were supposed to.
But Charles couldn't help himself.
You were supposed to complete the figure by drawing a costume on it.
But he put pasties on her tits...
and started drawing weird, psychotic characters in the background.
Psychotic Mickey Mouse.
They had an outline of this barn and tree.
You were supposed to draw in textures on surfaces.
They gave suggestions on how to fill in the textures.
That's his interpretation of that.
Here was your ability to arrange elements in a picture.
They give you objects. You're supposed to make an arrangement.
So he did this and this.
‘‘Your imagination as an illustrator. Complete this picture by adding...
whatever other figure or objects you think are necessary.’’
So he drew this girl here.
A week after this came in the mail, a salesman showed up to grade our tests.
If you got a good grade, you got the privilege...
of paying $400 to take the course.
He looked at Charles...
at what he had done, and he was speechless.
He didn't know what to say.
He told me mine was good, I had a lot of potential and I should take the course.
But Charles, he wouldn't even speak to him.
He was pretty far gone at that point already.
This is some of his later work...
sort of the end of his comic period.
About 1961. He's about 18.
He started developing this weird wrinkle technique in his drawing...
and it became stranger and stranger.
Had nothing to do with the outside world at all.
Became more and more ingrown in this way.
It had to do with his increasing alienation from the world. Isolation.
He never went to pen and ink.
He never got beyond pencil and crayons.
This is some of the last ‘‘Treasure Island’’ stuff he did.
This is late '61.
It's beautifully drawn except the wrinkle stuff gets out of hand.
He got more and more obsessed with that.
It gets real dark-looking.
He had this fascination with the relationship...
between the kid and Long John Silver, the pirate character...
which he elaborated on endlessly.
This is one of our two-mans. You can see he gradually added more and more text.
The writing takes over. Look at that.
He lost interest in drawing...
and then he went to this loony writing.
There's a certain phase of Charles' life that had this compulsive graphomania.
He did dozens of these notebooks. He gave me a bunch of them.
People found them fascinating.
This is upside down, though it doesn't make any difference.
I don't know if it's upside down or right side up.
When he first started out, it was readable...
and then it became less and less readable.
What I definitely need is some kind of external stimulation...
to rejuvenate me and get me going again.
But I don't know how I'm going to be able to arrange this eventually.
I don't know.
I'll have to start doing that in a mental hospital.
I remember this time we were at Neal's house and Mary was there.
Mary said, ‘‘I'm bored. I'm gonna take a bath.’’ She went in the bathroom and...
I told her not to do it.
Maxon's eyes glazed over and he got kind of red.
He got up as if he was in a trance and he went up to the bathroom.
I said, ‘‘What are you doing?’’ He pushed the bathroom door open.
Mary was standing there naked and she screamed.
She slammed the door.
I said, ‘‘Maxon, come away.’’ I tried to pull him away from the door.
He was completely in a trance. He pushed the door open again.
Mary yelled again. Then Maxon fell on the floor...
had an 8-minute seizure.
What's with these Oriental women you were into in this phase?
- You were attracted to Oriental women. - I was when I first started doing this.
When you were in that phase.
The phase of molesting women and getting in trouble with cops.
- Were you actually raping these women? - No. I didn't get that much into it.
He'd goose them and run away.
You've got to do a lot of molesting to get to rape.
If you do a couple years of molesting, you'II get to rape.
I started molesting when I was 18.
I started with Chinese women for some crazy reason on subways in Philadelphia.
I went through different periods of it.
But I'm out of it. It's too much passion, too much animal.
Didn't they put you in some kind of psycho ward for a few weeks?
Two weeks on Haldol will cure anything.
You'll do anything they tell you after two weeks on Haldol.
For a sensible person it's just terrible.
You get heavy into molesting. It's a violent crime thing.
I get to the point where I start pulling girls' shorts down.
I'm walking around this district by the Marina, a shopping district.
This beautiful Jewish-looking girl...
with obscenely brief shorts on...
goes into this drugstore.
I'm in a fit. I gotta do this to this broad. She's just too much.
I've gotta risk my whole life just to do something to this broad.
So I go in, cold sweat all over the place.
She doesn't notice. She's casually looking over some shampoo.
I'm trying not to be obtrusive.
She goes up to the counter. It's like this complete, personal struggle...
about this moment I gotta pull this risky trip.
I walk up behind her while she's paying for the shampoo.
I grab the bottom of her shorts and go...
They go all the way down, and her ass pops out like a ripe peach.
‘‘Jesus Christ!’’ she says. ‘‘There's someone there. '’
Maybe 15 or 20 years from now I'll be more willing to talk about it.
But not now. I've still got too many scruples.
- Did you tell Maxon about them? - He thinks you're putting it on.
Charles confessed to me when we were adults that...
when we were teenagers, he had to stifle the urge to stick a knife in my heart.
He'd be lying in bed, fighting the urge to go to the kitchen for the knife.
I wanted to go to the basement, get an ax and bash your skull in.
I told Maxon.
He didn't believe it. He thought it was all part of the act.
- He thinks the whole thing's an act. - He thinks my mental sickness is an act.
He thinks you have a cushy position in things...
because you got the mother's love and he didn't.
That's what he thinks.
He must think I have reasons for putting on this act.
What does he think those reasons are?
I don't think he thinks it out too deeply. He's just reacting.
He still has anger and resentment because he wasn't loved by the mother.
I know what the homicidal tendencies stem from now.
It stemmed from an excessive degree of narcissism.
It seems all I have to do is overcome the excessive degree of narcissism...
and my homicidal tendencies will go away.
- You still have these tendencies? - No, they're pretty well gone.
Think it's drugs?
What's the connection between narcissism and homicidal tendencies?
When narcissism is wounded...
it wants to strike back at the person who wounded it.
- Did I wound your narcissism? - Many, many times.
Many, many times.
I'm at the point in meditation where I have to use a bed of nails.
I'm not a great expert at the nails, so I cover a portion of the nails...
with this thin bandana so it's not too painful to me.
I have to regulate the amount of pain that I take with it.
- How long can you sit on those? - I can sit a couple hours.
This is quite easy.
The cloth cleans your intestines out on the inside.
You might say it gratifies your intestines.
Every six weeks, regularly, I have to pass it through my entire body.
And it takes three days for it to come out the other side.
You don't take the nails on the street, right?
They're prejudiced against people, like in the financial district...
against someone praying in the street.
You go out with your beggar bowl about every day.
I do it every day, once a day. It's part of my whole thing.
I have to go out and meet the public. Put the bowl down, lock in and do it.
It's a dirty job.
- How long has he had this bed of nails? - A couple years.
He sits on it about three or four times a day?
- About once a day for a couple hours. - Does he sleep on it?
No. It's not big enough to sleep on. He just sits on it.
- Where did he get it? Did he buy it? - You can't buy a bed of nails.
Just a minute. What is it? What?
Not too badly.
Remember, Mother, I'm under the influence of medication.
That's helping me through this thing to a certain extent, anyway.
- When did you start taking medication? - About 20 years ago.
If only it would do something about the inner anguish and pain.
You started taking it after you attempted suicide?
I started taking it after one of my suicide attempts.
- You drank furniture polish. - That was the first time.
I drank a bottle of furniture polish and took an overdose of sleeping pills.
I chickened out at the last minute, and went downstairs...
and asked Mother to take me to the hospital to have my stomach pumped.
There were two or three other attempts besides that one.
This morning you were talking about getting a lobotomy.
- Why not? - Why not?
God, it's grim.
Charles confessed to me that when he first saw ‘‘Treasure Island’’ in 1950...
he developed this crush on Bobby Driscoll, and it never went away.
Bobby Driscoll's the kid who plays Jim Hawkins.
The root of this whole obsession was this kid that was in the movie.
He was drawing Bobby Driscoll, this kid, endlessly.
When he told me this, I was shocked.
I had no idea that's what it was about.
I guess it's caused him a lot of torment in his life.
He's never been able to have any real sexual life at all.
He's never had sex.
I don't think any of them got out, Mother.
When she yelled, ‘‘Get the hell out of here!’’ I said, ‘‘Who's she talking to?’’
And I said, ‘‘She's being pursued by invisible enemies.’’
Who does she think they are?
I don't know exactly. It's hard to tell.
Charles? Fix that curtain in the hallway.
The curtain in the hallway?
Come here. Come here.
Let me see that, please.
Let me show you the painter.
I did that one and that one.
- That one's good. - Let me show you what one it is.
This is my character.
That's your character?
- What are biscuit teeth? - Her dog!
- Biscuit Teeth. - That's her dog?
Leave it the way it is. Gimme a break.
Isn't that better? Look.
Everything has to be black and white. Everything has to be old-fashioned.
It just looks better like that.
The old man, I think, took off pretty much for good...
when I was probably five or six years old I guess.
I can't remember that period of time very well.
But I didn't see him too regularly after that.
He was over here for the most part: Madison, Dixon.
Kind of gone most of the time.
I think he has sort of a hard time emotionally.
Sometimes I'll feel like I want to express affection to the old man.
I feel like I want to put my arm around him or shake his hand...
or get close in some way.
He can't do it.
- How tight? - Pretty tight.
What a disaster this is, taking these records out.
I was planning to live here until I died!
I didn't want to move out of this place, and move all these damn records.
That'll teach you to have a hobby.
Be careful with those. You break them, I'll kill you.
My copy of Frank Bunch and His Fuzzy Wuzzies.
Put those there on that futon.
Tight as you can. Pull it out and I'll cut it.
Jesus, that wife of mine.
Having me move to France, for God's sake.
It's too late now. The die is cast.
A lot of stuff is in here and some of it's in there.
Pulling up to here would be the best thing. I don't know.
We'll have to look. We have plywood we can put down.
She's having a ball out there, telling those guys what to do.
God, giant trucks are here, everything.
You think those guys are going to be sensitive to my record collection?
Bunch of football jocks.
‘‘Whaddya got here? A bunch of old albums or somethin'?’’
Is there anything you're going to miss about this country?
A certain relaxed quality that people have here that Europeans don't have.
They're more formal.
America's a big ‘‘slobville’’?
I went to get my friend’s belongings in Eureka.
It was at these people's house. I went into their living room.
They had this chair that was a gold plastic football helmet...
with a red and blue padded seat.
They had double-wide couches and a four-foot TV screen with Nintendo.
A Ninja Turtle game was on.
A giant, fat teenager was sitting there, mesmerized.
You don't see too much of that in France.
How do you feel about leaving your family here?
I don't have any feelings about it one way or the other.
What do I care?
Never see that mother or brother anyway. Talks to them like once a year.
What about Jesse?
He's devastated that we're leaving.
On the other hand, we told him he could come and stay with us there.
He's thrilled about that. We gave him $500 for plane fare...
so he's going to come.
- How about Max? - Max I feel bad about.
He doesn't have too many other people to talk to.
I'm probably his closest human relationship in the world.
These are all records?
Those 78s you were talking about?
So I've got no patience for Hollywood bullshit.
I can't think in those terms.
I've already got so much of my life wasted with those people down there.
Animation? Forget it. No. I'm not interested in it at all.
There hasn't been a decent animated film made in this country since 1940.
‘‘Cheery Pop Tart’’ is an abomination.
Larry Wells is an idiot. It's going to be a piece of garbage.
I'm not interested. All right.
I was on a conference call with Charles Webb, a friend of Dan O'Neill's.
They're putting together the ‘‘Cherry Pop Tart’’ film.
They got on the phone with some guy in L.A. who says...
‘‘Hey! I'm your kind of guy. Remember 'Tommy Toilet'? I love it!’’
They want to make a movie?
The natural film, of course. It's a ‘‘go’’ project.
This is how I felt after that last hell week...
of you filming me here.
‘‘How perfectly goddamned delightful it all is, to be sure.’’
When I was a kid, if I ever started showing enthusiasm for anything...
by brother Charles would say...
‘‘How perfectly goddamned delightful it all is, to be sure.’’
Always take the wind out of my sails.
Even though I don't see him often, whenever I'm with him...
it revives that keen awareness of that...
of being very removed or extremely separated...
from the rest of humanity and the world in general.
I kinda like that feeling.
‘‘How perfectly goddamned delightful it all is, to be sure.’’
Fix it, Charles. Put back the towel the way I had it.
First put the towel up.
Watch you don't pull the shade all the way off the thing.
Can't come in and disrupt people's house like this!
Where are the babies?
I don't know. I think that little girl is in my room.
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