Crumb... That Was Messed Up

I just saw Crumb. Wow, what a disturbing movie. I feel like I need an injection of some normality, or I did when it ended. It’s subsided mostly.

I think I’ve decided I’m not a fan of his. He’s good at drawing, but I don’t like his style. I can’t say he comes off as someone I’d like, either. I feel kind of hypocritical saying it, because one of the things I don’t like about him is that he comes off as really judgemental, but it’s how I feel.
I feel a little better about my own life, just because I doubt I’d end up as bad as his brothers. I just have to keep contact with other people.

I don’t really buy what people say about him being a mirror to our culture, or whatever. I think it’s more his distorted perception of it that he shows than any great insight.

But anyway, what do you all think?

I think Crumb is brilliant, the film is brilliant, and Crumb is right about people. I’d also love checking out his record collection and playing some blues and ragtime with him.

I’m with Subterraneanus.

He’s a pretty close friend of my father-in-law, they hang out and play music together. From what I understand he’s a nice, polite, very odd fellow.

Never met him personally though.

I liked the film, but I’m not a particular fan of his work.

What I liked most about the film is that when you see Crumb with the average populace, he is by far the weirdest, most off-putting person in the room. In the scenes with his family, he is the floating log of sanity that you cling to until it’s over.

I liked the parody of him in the film “American Splendor”.

Crumb’s at best a low-rent, thoroughly fucked-up artist. He has nothing of any significant value to offer anyone, but that’s not because he’s mentally ill (which he is) but rather because he doesn’t appear to reflect carefully about what he wants to say. He’s far short of the talent of people like semi-peers Charles Bukowski and William S. Burroughs (who in my opinion aren’t especially gifted either).

The bottom line is that there are an almost infinite number of artists/creators who are far, far more worth someone’s time.

Those of us who lived through the 60s (“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!”) will always honour Crumb this side idolatry.

Keep on truckin’, man!

The thing I got out of that film was (1) in the first half Crumb came across as a really messed up mental case and (2) in the second half you got a look at his family and he was the most…normal…of the group.

Did you notice that there was a sister mentioned? She didn’t want to (and didn’t) appear in the film.

The lack of reflection is part of his genius; indeed, that’s the very point. He’s just one huge id. The level of alienation he exhibits is honestly reflected in his work for the simple reason that he can afford to do so, and more importantly (from his point of view), there is no significant social reward to restraining his exhibitionism. Having said that, I also have to say that I loved the movie, respect his work and talent, but don’t particularly like him.

I found myself admiring him, although I don’t think I’d want to spend much time around him. He is the only member of his family to make something of himself rather than allow his psychological problems to ruin him. Yes, he’s screwed up, but look where he came from. I also give him points for honesty - he’s not afraid to let people see the ugliness of his thoughts. I suspect there are plenty of people who fantasize about things at least as creepy as R. Crumb does, but who keep their inner lives secret.

I do find something admirable about how open he is with his artwork and everything, but I don’t think he’s great. It seems like he doesn’t really understand people as well as he thinks he does. I thought it was lame how he said the movers were dumb jocks when they were out of earshot.
I don’t know that he’d really be a bad person to hang around with, as long as you weren’t expecting him to be very friendly. Maybe I’d like him if I hung around with him, but that’s not the same thing as how I don’t think he is a great person or artist.

I liked the interview where the woman said how his comics freaked her out as a child. From his reaction it looked to me like he had more of an understanding of his own work than he admits.

Is it weird that I’m a fan of Daniel Clowes and dislike R. Crumb? They have some similarities, but with Daniel Clowes’ work I see more humanity.

In an interview after the movie came out, he said that as bleak as the film made his family life look, 90% of the people in the world came from something a lot worse.

My sister’s strongest reaction was to little Sophie, wondering if she was putting off a “Help, I’m being molested!” vibe. God I hope that wasn’t the case.

It’s good to know that you feel qualified to give us not only your own opinion of Crumb, but to determine that he has nothing to offer to other people either.

As some of the other posts in this thread demonstrate, you are factually incorrect.

I don’t think you have to be a fan of Crumb’s work (I can take it or leave it myself) to appreciate the brilliance of the movie. I think it’s one of the most fascinating portraits of an artist I’ve ever seen.

I haven’t seen the film and I’m less that familiar with much of Crumb’s work, but I will share one datapoint. Harvey Pekar, creator of the American Splendor comic and friends with Crumb since the '60’s, says that while he [Harvey] liked Zwigoff’s film, he thought it did not show how sweet and human Crumb was in “real life.” Harvey was glad that that side of Crumb was more obvious in the “American Splendor” film (where Crumb was portrayed by James Urbaniak) than it had been in “Crumb.”


I am a huge fan of R. Crumb and I own and have read nearly everything he has written, as well as a great deal of his family’s art (Charles, Maxon, his wife and his daughter.) I love his line drawing style and his astonishingly talented crosshatching, but moreover I value him as a writer. I think his perspectives on the human attraction to power and the dangers of fame are as astute as anything written by other contemporary social critics.

I own the Crumb DVD and have watched it many times (before I acquired Crumb Family Comics, I would freeze-frame the Long John Silver comics and the Talent Test by Charles to try to analyze, and eventually copy, his distinctive style.) I think it’s a great movie, and although I am not a big fan of documentaries, I think this one was done well because of Robert’s active participation in it.

It’s a pretty damn short list of artists who a huge swath of the population can instantly recognize from any one of their drawings. Just for his ability to create a distinctive style, and iconic American images, I give him a lot of credit. (I guess you could say the same thing about Thomas Kinkaid, too, but whatever)

Beyond that, the documentary is good.

What parody? That was a pretty straight-up portrayal, don’t you think?

Has the OP seen American Splendor? A better movie, IMO, than Crumb. . .a sort of meta-documentary. I thought it was brilliant.

I didn’t see the movie, yet, but I will say I rather enjoy Crumb’s work. My ex used to have pretty much everything Crumb had done and I found myself frequently pouring through it.

I spent a week one night reading all night long and laughed and laughed so much and so hard that my face hurt, I had a headache and my nose started bleeding.

It wasn’t just the humorous aspect of his work that I found hysterical. It was the direct display of the human condition, the unabashed demonstration of his own inner psyche and the the dark side of humanity that we all try to hide. He exposes it and seeing the absurdity of life is refreshing and downright fun.

Thanks Crumb for the hardest laugh I’ve ever had.

Same here; that movie was brilliant. His stuff is grotesque to me and I wouldn’t seek it out, but what a great movie.

As a record collector myself, it’s my considered opinion that people who aren’t messed up seldom have very good record collections.