Robert Crumb—Live Online: The Interview That Didn’t Happen

Black Sparrow Press moving card Illustration (1986)

Robert Crumb was scheduled to appear at a comics/film festival called “Graphic” on August 20 and 21 at Australia’s Sydney Opera House. I was to appear on stage and interview him on the 21st.

On July 31, the Sydney Telegraph ran a short article titled “Smutty Show a Comic Outrage”, in which the author, Jesse Phillips, quotes anonymous “sexual assault crisis groups” as describing Crumb as “sick and deranged,” and attacking the Sydney Opera House for sponsoring the event. The well-known art critic Hetty Johnson is quoted as condemning the Opera House for “endorsing” the “depraved thought processes of this very warped human being.” She went on to be quoted as saying, “These cartoons are not funny or artistic — they are just crude and perverted images emanating from what is clearly a sick mind. Of all the brilliant artists, cartoonists and writers the Opera House and council could have supported, you have to wonder why they chose Robert Crumb.”

Indeed, you have to wonder. After all, what has Crumb contributed to comics? The Telegraph’s journalist, who should know, referred to him as a “‘seminal’ cult comic cartoonist from the 1960s” — note that “seminal” is in quotes, meaning not seminal. Why host him rather than an artist who would pass the Telegraph’s high standards of decency?

I am joking. In fact, there is no indication that Hetty Johnson knows anything about art. She is an anti-child abuse campaigner who founded an organization called BraveHearts, and the author of a book called In the Best Interests of the Child. I don’t know enough about her to comment on her legitimacy as an advocate for abused children —she may be a good and valuable one, or she may be, in the words of altnews.com, an “anti-child abuse hysteric”— but she was certainly dragged in by the Murdoch-owned Telegraph to support their editorial position. When I read this, I didn’t think much of it; it was just another example of clueless, right-wing cultural warfare, and instantly dismissed it as such. The only proper response, from my point of view, was: Fuck you. I was still planning on seeing Crumb a few weeks later, and looking forward to interviewing him.

I was, therefore, as surprised as anyone when I learned Crumb cancelled his scheduled appearance because of it and I couldn’t help but wonder why. Crumb is, in his own way, one of the most courageous cartoonists who ever lived and I couldn’t imagine that this caused him much pause. Naturally, his decision was more complex than I imagined. His cancellation caused a stir in the media —and it should be said that most of the Australian media was very much on his side and foursquare opposed to the sleazy tactics of the telegraph; a typical headline, this one from Artlyst, was “News Corp Assassinates Comic Book Legend Robert Crumb”— and he felt obliged to respond for the record. Here is the full text of his “Statement to the Media.”

Graphics Festival and the Country of Australia Go On Without R. Crumb

Why’d I suddenly cancel my appearance in Sydney only days before I was supposed to get on that airplane?  I’ll try to explain as best I can.

Weeks ago, I was interviewed by a journalist named Charles Purcell for the Sydney Morning News concerning my upcoming appearance at the Graphics Festival.  I was pretty open with Purcell over the telephone from my home in France, as I usually am with journalists.  I’m not very clever at contriving a media image.  I just bare my soul in my compulsive, confessional way.  So, we talked a lot about sex, about my sexual proclivities, and Purcell played up this angle in his article of July 30th.  There are some very frank quotes in the published interview.  “I’m a very eccentric oddball character, weird pervert,” and so forth.  I’m also quoted putting down Karl Rove, and by extension, all right-wing politicians.  Okay, fine, I have no problem with such a forthright presentation of who I am and what I think.

LITTLE DID WE KNOW… Little did Purcell or I know who was lurking in the bushes, just waiting to pounce?!  The very next day, July 31, the right-wing media sharks at the Telegraph verily jumped on this juicy morsel.  Me, I know nothing of Australian politics.  I had no clue that there were such nasty right-wing media manipulators there.  The Purcell article alerted them.  Crumb was somebody they could use against the liberals in the Sydney city government.  They obviously did a little research, made some calls to the right people, like “anti-child abuse campaigner” Hetty Johnston, and got them to rant about what a bad person I am, that “the Sydney Opera House was endorsing the ‘depraved thought processes of this very warped human being,’” ‘These cartoons are not funny or artistic they are just crude and perverted images emanating from what is clearly a sick mind.”  Beautiful.  Perfect.  Thank you, Ms. Johnston, for your input.

After I told a journalist who sent me the article that I might not go to Australia because of it, he took it on himself to call and talk to Hetty Johnston, who told him that she was contacted by “the Media,” sent links to some of my more “offensive” images, and asked to comment on the fact that the Sydney Opera House was exhibiting my work.  From this it is evident that the Telegraph was looking for ways to discredit me and the Sydney city government by using people like Hetty Johnston.  Who’s going to put down an anti-child abuse campaigner?  If this person hates my work, I must be a child abuser myself.  And the Sydney Opera House is condoning child abusers.  And the Telegraph, after contacting these groups and showing them apparently offensive images extracted from my work, can then say, as they did in their article, “Cartoonist Robert Crumb’s visit, funded by the Opera house and endorsed by the City of Sydney, has sparked outrage with sexual assault groups describing the France-based American artist as ‘sick and deranged.’”  One can see in this example how skilled media professionals with low standards of integrity are able to mold and manipulate public opinion, popular beliefs, and, ultimately, the direction of politics.  The majority of the population in most places are not alert to this kind of deceptive manipulation.  They are more or less defenseless against such clever “perception management.”

I was quite alarmed when I read this article in the Sunday Telegraph, which came out the day after the Morning News piece by Purcell. I showed it to my wife Aline, who said, “That’s it, you’re not going.”  She got a very bad feeling from the Telegraph article.  She feared that I might be attacked physically by some angry, outraged person who simply saw red at the mention of child-molesters.  She remarked that she’d never seen any article about me as nasty as this one.

I emailed the organizers of the Graphics Festival and told them that I might not come on account of this article.  They attempted to reassure me that the Telegraph was not to be taken seriously, that it’s just a stupid, cheap tabloid of no consequence, that no one was going to show up and harass me, that most of the media in Sydney was completely positive about my coming there, etc.  Aline and I went round and round about this thing; should I go or not?  Ultimately, she could not shake her feeling of ominous dread.  I knew that if I went, that she would be in a state of anxiety the whole time I was gone.  She’d be praying for me, I know her.  I couldn’t do it to her.  Finally I told her I wasn’t going.  She broke down and wept as I held her.  I told the organizers the bad news and apologized profusely.  They were quite gracious about it, I must say.  I know that my decision not to come has caused them great inconvenience as well as disappointment.  I’d been rehearsing intensively in preparation for playing music with the local Sydney “novelty” band of Mic Conway.  I was kind of looking forward to that.  Oh well, it’s always good to rehearse, come what may.

While I was agonizing over whether to go to Australia or not, I tried to imagine how I would react if confronted with a group of angry anti-Crumb protestors, or an angry individual.  I have no defense.  I can’t explain why I drew all those crazy pictures.  I had to do it.  Maybe I should have my pencils and pens taken away from me.  I don’t know.  I really have no answer to their argument that I’m a sick, deranged person.  What should I say, no, I’m not?  No idea.  But I decided that I was willing to face the possibility of an unpleasant confrontation, possible insults, even physical assault.  I’m rather fatalistic that way.  But I couldn’t do that to Aline.  I had to put her feelings in front of those of the organizers of the Festival and Australian fans of my work.  Sorry folks.  I DO feel bad, as I hate letting people down.  But I decided I’d rather bear the pain of letting people down than subjecting my long-suffering wife to a ten-day period of dread and anxiety for my well being.  She’s been awfully nice to me since I told her I wasn’t going!  She baked a chocolate cake even!

I know, I know, it’s galling to give the Telegraph sleazeballs the satisfaction.  “Ha ha, we scared him off.”  But they already got what they wanted out of me anyway, which was to use me to make the city government of Sydney look bad.  The worst part of it is the irresponsibility of these cynical media hacks.  What if I’d gone there, and what if some Mark Chapman type person who’d read that article decided that the world needed to be cleansed of scum like R. Crumb (Mark Chapman shot John Lennon)?  This was one possibility that worried Aline deeply.  Did it occur to the people at the Telegraph that they might be stirring up such dangerous passions?  Do they care?  Their article showed a profound lack of integrity and social responsibility.  And unfortunately, I was made the object of their hateful Machiavellian tactics.  One wonders if they would have published more such anti-Crumb articles if I’d showed up in Sydney, or possibly even orchestrated some sort of public demonstration against me! Yipe!

R. Crumb

August 9, 2011

In preparation for interviewing Crumb, I put together a PowerPoint presentation so that questions would be synched to images and the audience could see what we were talking about. I’ve interviewed Crumb several times in the past and I wanted to ask questions that I wouldn’t necessarily think to ask, so, realizing that my own perspective is limited and not wanting to repeat myself, I invited a dozen cartoonists to submit a question I could ask Crumb. I planned on asking him these questions at the end of our interview.

Since I couldn’t ask him these questions on a stage in Sydney, I asked Robert if he’d answer these questions in a post-Sydney interview, to which he graciously consented. I recently witnessed an exchange on an academic forum discussing Crumb’s alleged racism or misogyny (I can’t recall which) where someone, referring to crumb’s own responses to the allegations, said that Crumb wasn’t a very thoughtful cartoonist. I couldn’t disagree more. Not only is he thoughtful about his own craft and art, but has a wide-ranging curiosity, verging on the inquisitorial, about the wider world and the Important Questions. Not that he always has the answers, mind you; but few cartoonists of my acquaintance think more and more deeply about he questions than Crumb does. This interview skims the surface.

This interview as conducted, ironically or appropriately, on August 21, 2011. It was transcribed by Conrad Groth, edited by Gary Groth, and fact-checked by R. Crumb.

GARY GROTH: Do you have any regrets about not going to Australia?

“Sally Blubberbutt” from Big Ass #2 (August 1971)

R. CRUMB: Well, I didn’t until you told me that the streets were full of Crumb girls. [Laughter.]

Which they are.

That's when I started regretting it. [Groth laughs.] That’s about it. Otherwise, I didn’t want to go that badly. I wouldn’t have even thought of going at all if Jordan Verzar had just asked me outright, but when he sent me those photos — that was it.

Yeah, that sold you.

He did his job well. [Laughs.] Otherwise, really, what’s in Australia for me? It’s a 22-hour plane ride… Did I read you Terry Zwigoff’s note to me? After he’d read the whole thing on the Internet about what happened, he said, “What are you really going to miss? A backbreaking plane ride of some 20 hours, another dog-and-pony slideshow and discussion in front of some aging hippies, sitting in with one of the worst bands I’ve ever heard — someone showed them to me on YouTube. From people I’ve talked to, Australia’s filled with even more boisterous, drunken hoopleheads than America, so you won’t be missing much.” [Laughter.]


Hoopleheads, yes.

Huh. [Crumb laughs.] That’s pretty great. Now, what did you think of the band?

I never actually heard them.

You didn’t jump on YouTube and watch them?

I don’t do computers. But I can have somebody else download it and show it to me. I guess I should look at it. I was rehearsing diligently and earnestly to play with them. They sent me a tune list, and we worked out an hour set of tunes I was rehearsing. But I’d never actually heard them, no. Terry said he didn’t like them much.

In your statement explaining why you didn’t go, you used the word “galling,” which seemed appropriate to me in that it’s galling to give in to that kind of pressure.

“Ha ha, we ran him off.”

GROTH: Yeah, right, right. The Telegraph, which ran the original piece, ran a follow-up, and I was curious about something they wrote.

Yeah, I haven’t seen that.

They wrote: “Crumb seems to be living in fear of the reaction he once sought to provoke. It seems a sad place for any artist to be.” And they continued, “Crumb now has some regret about his earlier acid-era works about rape, bestiality, and incest, which began when, as a virgin teenager, he began drawing masturbation fantasies.” [Laughter]. And then they quote you, as writing in a comic from 1994, which I don’t remember having seen, “These are my own original unique creations, but of this I was not and never have been proud. Later, I even had the nerve to foist these absurd fantasies on the public in my comics. Why I thought anyone else would want to see this stuff I’ve forgotten.”

[Laughs.] I probably said that. [Laughs.] In my own open, agonizing confessional way I’ve gone through every aspect of the spectrum of feelings and emotions about the work I’ve done.

It’s funny, because if you’re too honest about things like that it’ll be ideologically used against you.

Yeah, sure, you can pull something like that out. That might even be in one of those Complete Crumb introductions that I wrote, I don’t know, I’m sure it’s someplace, some interview I did. It’s true; another thing Terry says in that e-mail to me that I just quoted to you from, he said, [laughter] “I would take this as an opportunity to reevaluate your openness with the media as well. I suffer from the same compulsive impulses. It all stems from wanting to be liked. But not all people are good at heart, and it’s not wise to be so open. The Weinsteins” — he means the Weinstein brothers — “took me aside and taught me this valuable lesson years ago at the start of promoting Bad Santa. They’d say, ‘Terry, why are you saying that? Don’t get into that.’ And I’d always say, ‘But it’s the truth.’ They said, ‘You’ve got to learn to manipulate the media, or the media will manipulate you. Put your own spin on things and make your own truth. Do what helps your career, not theirs. Wise up.’ They weren’t wrong.” [Laughs.]


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43 Responses to Robert Crumb—Live Online: The Interview That Didn’t Happen

  1. Chance Fiveash says:

    It’s always a pleasure to read an interview with Crumb as interviewed by Groth. Wonderful.

  2. Tom Stein says:

    Truly inspirational thoughts and comments for R. Crumb! It gives me courage to stay on the rightgeous path, despite all adversity that’s out there!

  3. Pingback: Robert Crumb and Gary Groth on almost everything | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment

  4. I’m impressed Crumb is so politically informed. Naomi Klein. Wendell Potter. Food, Inc. The guy could do a Pacifica show and guest blog for digby.

    But we’d rather he’d draw another book.

  5. Ron Wilkinson says:

    Great interview. Lots of parallel experiences in my life. Of course I’m close to his age so that’s a good part of it.
    I appreciate that he put it out there and mixed it into his art and story telling.
    It, his comics, definitely gave me something. They are entertaining and give me a sense of relief- that it is not that bad, this life is not that bad.
    Ha ha!!

  6. Linda says:

    Loved it.

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  8. Uland says:

    I’m sorry, this just comes off as whiny and entitled, as though it’s “manipulation” to print a story containing opinions not shared by Crumb and Groth.As though Crumb believes he should be treated differently than any other artist.

    I mean, Crumb used to own being a sleaze-merchant, and clearly did his best to offend middle-America sensibilites. That Conservatives might be alarmed at their Federal government sponsoring ( paying Crumb, I’m sure) a show of his comic art…Well, yeah.

    And for him to back down— as though he’s above the kind of cultural stew he’s exploited for decades— is just wimpy and lame.

    If any federal grant/funding went to any artists that offended the Cultural-Left’s sensibilities, we’d see the same sort of Huff pieces coming from their side of the fence.

  9. tom clifford says:

    Robert Crumb was a great 60’s countercultural artist and all that, but thinking he’s going to get assassinated by some Mark Chapman type nut is plain ol’ daft. Nobody gives that much of a fuck about him, except a coupla hundred TCJ online readers…

    Let’s face it, all that old blues musician art and Bible interpretation is a boring as batshit. Nobody cares about his later stuff.

    Can someone tell him to start talking lots of drugs again?

  10. Kim Thompson says:

    My rebuttal: (1) No, we wouldn’t. (2) If we did, the lefties would be assholes, it wouldn’t clear the righties of their assholishness.

    To see this as anything other than a political hit (in which Crumb was just collateral damage) pandering to the public, using that child-abuse lady as a blunt instrument, is a little naive.

  11. TimR says:

    “Well, in the case of global warming, OK, I don’t trust the scientific consensus myself, because there’s too many other areas where scientific consensus is also a put-up job. Nothing is on the level is the problem.”

    So true, and such a pleasure to see Crumb saying this. So many people seem to take science, well, as a matter of faith, without any skepticism whatsoever.

    I’m more in the global warming skeptic camp, but I appreciate that he’s at least aware of all the weird politics and machinations behind the popular science blatted out through the news organs.

    “And what money interest is there for the people who believe in global warming, the scientists and all them? What possible money interests — OK, maybe some minor thing, perhaps an alternative energy source is a minor possible way to make money.”

    I have read that there is a potential to make money through the carbon credit trading scheme — that it would be another potential financial bubble for G Sachs and the other vernicious knids to stick their feeding maws into. Al Gore was heavily invested in companies having to do with this. Search for a blog under key words “activist teacher” for more details. Also “rkmdocs.blogspot.com” and scroll to the bottom of his (early in the archive) post about global warming:

    Cap-and-trade has nothing to do with climate. It is part of a scheme to micromanage the allocation of global resources, and to maximize profits from the use of those resources. Think about it. Our ‘powerful factions’ decide who gets the initial free cap-and-trade credits. They run the exchange market itself, and can manipulate the market, create derivative products, sell futures, etc. They can cause deflation or inflation of carbon credits, just as they can cause deflation or inflation of currencies. They decide which corporations get advance insider tips, so they can maximize their emissions while minimizing their offset costs. They decide who gets loans to buy offsets, and at what interest rate. They decide what fraction of petroleum will go to the global North and the global South. They have ‘their man’ in the regulation agencies that certify the validity of offset projects, such as replacing rainforests with tree plantations, thus decreasing carbon sequestration. And they make money every which way as they carry out this micromanagement.

  12. George Bush (not that one) says:

    Dose Crumb and put him in a room with Jodorowsky. Fritz the Metabaron !

  13. Uland says:

    How many films,books,etc., come under fire for promoting values the left doesn’t approve of? Ivan think of plenty. Now imagine they received Federal funding.Do you really think Slate would be cool with Gibsons The Passion getting NEA funds, or ,say soething like Friedkins Cruising?

    I don’t see it.

    Also, I think it’s often difficult to draw a line between “hit piece” and genuine concern.You might think the lady is nuts, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t believe what shes saying. Crumb is nuts too, of course. It’s his bread and butter. That anyone would be surprised at people thinking his filth is filthy…

    Any state thinking they should send tax money his way seems insane to me.

  14. Greg says:

    Uland – Why are you even here?

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  16. Uland says:

    “And what money interest is there for the people who believe in global warming, the scientists and all them? What possible money interests — OK, maybe some minor thing, perhaps an alternative energy source is a minor possible way to make money.”

    70 billion in the last 15 years in Federal funding alone went to researchers wanting to study APGW. That’s a pretty good reason to “hide the decline”.

  17. Uland says:

    Two uninformed guys blathering. There’s no incentive to promote Global Warming? — Cap and trade, Carbon offset markets (the largest energy companies not having to worry about competition because they can gobble up “carbon credits”), billions in research money, alternative energy scams ( Solyndra). Come on guys.

  18. Artie Romero says:

    Well, you’re the expert.

  19. DiamondDulius says:

    That’s still minor when compared to the oil industry, which is the point, I think… and I don’t believe you can legitimately call a “scam” an incentive…

  20. kim deitch says:

    Tom. Speak for yourself when you say things like that. I find your manner to be totally offensive. Where do you get that stuff anyway? Let’s hear your idea of what’s good.

  21. patrick ford says:

    I notice Fantagraphics is going to reissue Crumb’s “Your Vigor For Life Appalls Me.”

    What are the odds that collection of letters could be brought up to date, at a minimum the letters to TCJ would be wonderful. The Mineshaft letters would be tremendous to collect, but I wouldn’t want to see their back issue sales affected.

    Thanks again for a great interview, and I’m really happy this worked out in print as opposed to having to watch it on video.

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  23. Charro says:

    ” Whiny and entitled”, for not liking what this conglomerate controlled, corporate media churns out? Your point of view has no validity in this respect. We have every right to expect the news to address the whole of an issue and not just sensationalism, soundbytes, or propaganda, ‘right or ‘left’.

  24. patrick ford says:

    So I’m coming out of the drug store with a can of almonds and a newspaper, and there is a guy outside talking about how the moon landing was faked.

    Me? I walk on by.

  25. Anthony Thorne says:

    A great, thoughtful interview full of interesting commentary and funny observations from both Groth and Crumb. Lovely stuff.

    “thinking he’s going to get assassinated by some Mark Chapman type nut is plain ol’ daft. Nobody gives that much of a fuck about him, except a coupla hundred TCJ online readers…”

    You sadly overestimate the mentality of angry tabloid readers down here in Australia, who could easily be provoked to lynch Nelson Mandela if they were persuaded that he’d interfered with their daily diet of sport, beer, and letting working-class Aussies receive a ‘fair go’. Rabble-rousing commentary surrounding the exhibition of the Andres Serrano photo ‘Piss Christ’ led to one reader attempting to carry the picture out of the gallery, and two others attacking it with a hammer. I doubt either had heard of Serrano or his photo before the ‘appalled’ newspaper and TV stories got going. Readers of The Daily Telegraph and Herald-Sun would neither have known nor cared about Crumb’s status as an artistic treasure – they would have viewed him as a perverted Yank who blithely drew pictures of pedophilia for jollies, or worse. Add Government funding of left-wing art exhibitions to the mix – taxpayers having their money spent on ‘sick filth’ – and the controversy could quite easily have run for the entire duration of Crumb’s stay, plenty of time for some red-faced lout to try and make his point to Crumb face-to-face. Australia’s most vituperative shock-jock, Alan Jones, commands a huge Sydney audience and was able to start race riots in the streets a few years back. If he’d started up on the subject – and I guess he would have eventually – Crumb’s visit would have been an ugly one. I’m sad that the event was affected, that Crumb pulled out and the conversation between Groth and R.C wasn’t able to occur before an Australian audience, but if we [Australians] are happy to have our public discussion become increasingly shrill and conservative and right-wing, we can’t complain if others not gripped by the same mindset decline to go along for the ride.

    If Crumb’s still drawing covers for book anthologies, one more I’d like to see comes to mind – THE COMPLETE HUP. That said, if ZAP is getting the deluxe hardcover treatment, can someone [Fanta?] gather the complete WEIRDO issues next, whacked-out photo montages, editorials and all?

  26. Great stuff. Too bad the comments section isn’t trollfree though.

  27. Rick Worley says:

    They didn’t say anything disagreeing with Crumb was manipulation, Crumb was saying it was manipulation to send some woman who doesn’t know anything about his work pictures that they know she’ll be offended by out of context and then use quotes by her because they know it will look bad to offend somebody in her position, since she’s supposed to be an advocate for a good cause. And obviously, that is manipulation.

  28. Groth says:

    Thanks to Anthony Thorne for elevating the level of discourse in the Comments section. I was getting worried that my interview was being read mostly by idiots — always a depressing possibility.

    Crumb very explicitly said that he himself wasn’t that worried about physical harm, but that his wife and daughter were, and that he didn’t want to put them through a week of worry. Crumb wanted to go but not enough to put his family through that stress. He put his family’s interests before a public event. What a sick pervert.

  29. TimR says:

    I think I know who you’re directing that at, but for all I know you might be talking about Crumb..?

    Quote: “Well, in the case of global warming, OK, I don’t trust the scientific consensus myself, because there’s too many other areas where scientific consensus is also a put-up job. Nothing is on the level is the problem.”

  30. kim deitch says:

    Well said.

  31. patrick ford says:

    Tim, Your first thought is correct. It absolutely isn’t Crumb I was talking about.

    Substitute “flat Earth” or “Jesus told me in a dream the world will end in seven days” for “fake moon landing” if you like.

    I agree with Crumb’s sceptical view of modern science (particularly where money is an issue). but I think there are some things which are beyond dispute.

  32. patrick ford says:

    As pointed out by Anthony, Crumb very well could have been in danger. Absolutely a possibility. No one said it was a certainty. It is almost certain that had he gone the trip would have been a very bad experience.

  33. TimR says:

    Mainly being rhetorical, I just wasn’t sure you had noticed that Crumb practically endorses the “conspiratorial” view you were mocking.

    I think there are various economic/ideological pressures on *both* sides of the global warming issue, not exclusively on the big oil side.. This whole carbon credit trading regime sounds like a bit more than chump change to me, not to mention the additional control it would offer to ruling class interests over virtually every human activity.

    Another thing that gets me about the global warming issue, as long as we’re on it.. (and as unpleasant and vitriolic as the conversation always seems – not you Pat, I just mean in general) — My intuition (I won’t pretend to be able to speak to the science, I’m annoyed when laypeople make authoritative claims on it as if they could speak to the science of it) is that we would be better served to focus society’s efforts on the pollutants that cause straightforward health problems in the population – very direct cause and effect ill effects, for instance the problems in my part of the country with coal-fired power plants. Clean that stuff up! But the very tenuous claims that are much more arguable (given the *natural* climate shifts that have occurred over the aeons), about global warming, strike me (again as an admitted non-scientist) as much more easily prone to ideological bias infecting the science on all sides.

    (hope this writing isn’t too unpolished.. just my 2 cents here)

  34. patrick ford says:

    A couple of things Crumb said in the interview reminded me immediately of a quote from Jack Kirby.


    “We haven’t come that far since Hitler, and the concentration camps, and the gas chambers, Stalin and Mao, all the people they had killed or sent off to Siberia or whatever. You can go on and on.”

    “Well, as compared to in the past when you had brutality and cruelty and everything, and we still have, so what’s specifically detestable about the modern world that’s different from times past is that now they’ve developed such a very clever way of perception management and persuasion and deception, that this has become huge and elaborate.”


    “We always try to fix our faces. Don’t we look great today? Do we look like the people who built Dachau? No we look as if it never happened. Do we look like the people who committed atrocities in WWII and all the wars before that? No we don’t look like those kinds of people.

    I think we are living in medieval times. It’s only 40 years ago we cooked people in ovens. How sophisticated is that? We can pat ourselves on the back, and say we’re living in a high tech age, but I think we’re still medieval.”

  35. patrick ford says:

    Tim, I really was commenting on avoiding bufoons.

    Let’s just say if I come out of the drug store with a can of cashews and a newspaper, and see a guy dressed in a Batman costume I give him a wide berth.

    As to global warming. Crumb was clear he thought there was a very legitimate concern.

    I think he was more interested in saying people should be sceptical in situations where money plays a role. As he indicated the really big money is interested in disputing the role of man made air pollution.

  36. TimR says:

    You disposed of those almonds pretty quickly. j/k…

    “Crumb was clear he thought there was a very legitimate concern.”

    Not at all! He said he doesn’t trust institutional science one iota, basically, just that if there’s the slightest chance they could be right, it’s too catastrophic to risk it. I suspect that if he read some of the risks of implementing a carbon trading regime, and who the interests are behind doing so, he might weigh the risks


    Quote: “I don’t trust the scientific consensus [on global warming] myself, because there’s too many other areas where scientific consensus is also a put-up job.”

    That you call a view of global warming science as “very legit”?

  37. TimR says:

    … let me edit that.. I agree he thinks the “concern” is legit. Not necessarily the science though.

  38. indig says:

    Love Crumb. Love Groth.

  39. Artie Romero says:

    Good interview, gentlemen. That was a good idea, getting questions from other cartoonists. It is always a pleasure to hear from Groth or Crumb, and the interaction here was especially stimulating. Thank you!

  40. bjenny says:

    Fantastic interview!

  41. julian says:

    Great interview, informative and insightful..R. Crumb’s work has been a touchstone over the decades for many fans, fellow artists, etc– He’s devoted his time and talent to pursuit of his own unique vision of life, warts and all, and the world is a better place for that. ‘Nuff said.

  42. Andrew MacDonald says:

    Thanks for this wonderful interview. I had tickets to see Crumb and travelled interstate to see him. So this makes up for it somewhat. (Am I bitter? Just a tad.)

    Terry Zwigoff, though, is wrong. There wasn’t a hoople head or ageing hippie in sight, just a lot of nice folk who were interested in comics as an art form.

    He can check with Jim Woodring if he doesn’t believe me.

  43. Byron Allen Black says:

    For what it’s worth, Australia’s greatest art critic, the late Robert Hughes, had great praise for Crumb’s work, even calling him ‘the closest we have to a Brueghel’.

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