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

Did Genesis more or less make you financially independent?

No, but it paid well. I would say that the accumulation of my work has made me financially independent, and the value of the original artwork. I could stop working tomorrow and I’d probably be OK, unless the whole economy collapses. [Laughter.]

Which it might.

Otherwise, I could live off of just selling off my sketchbooks probably, at this point. Maybe you shouldn’t publish that because someone might come in and steal them. [Laughter.]

Next up, Jim Woodring.


He asks: “Who do you regard as a truly great person? I know you admire Picasso and Thomas Nast and Kurtzman and all those guys, but I’m wondering who your idea of an all-around exemplar might be.”

An all-around exemplar? The pizza lady across the road. [Groth laughs.] I don’t know how this woman does it. She’s a saint, this pizza lady. She’s always cheerful; she’s always over there in that truck slinging that pizza. Then she has a day job. Then she supports her mother, I don’t think she even has a husband or anything, she’s always cheerful; she’s good-looking. She’s exemplary. She’s an impeccable person.

You would compare her favorably to Picasso and Thomas Nast and Kurtzman?

Her pizza is great.

[Laughs.] Right.

Picasso was a despicable guy in a lot of ways.

Oh yeah.

He did great work, did great work. Charles Bukowski, one of my favorite writers: awful guy. You wouldn’t want to live with him. So, exemplary person. How can you know about anybody who’s well known in history or in the arts or sciences or anything? All you can go by is what you actually witness yourself day after day. And among the common herd, the common anonymous people that are forgotten by time after their death, there are exemplary people walking around. Impeccable people. There’s a schoolteacher here, this woman here, she’s a totally impeccable person; you cannot find any fault with her. She’s such a fine decent person.

Right, right. It took me a long time to reconcile that a great artist, or an artist that I admired, was not necessarily a good person.

[Laughs.] Well, they might just be neurotic, self-centered, selfish: like me. [Laughter.] But whatever the formula that produces great art, good art, or interesting writing or science, or politicians or anything, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re exemplary in all ways. Not at all.

Well, it’s wonderful when you find someone that you do admire who truly is exemplary.

Yeah, I don’t know anybody like that, do you?

Well, I don’t know…

What do you think of Obama?

I think his performance has been sad and disappointing.

Yeah, very disappointing, but the liberals who voted him in had such high hopes, had some kind of vague expectation that he was going to turn around this juggernaut of money and power and he can’t do it. He just can’t do it. He’s not powerful enough.

But they said all the same shit about Lincoln. They all said Lincoln was incompetent: that look at the war, the mess he got us into, the Civil War, yadadadada. He didn’t have the power to stop the Civil War. That juggernaut was rolling when he got elected president. I remember when I saw Obama at his inauguration speech, with Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner standing right behind him, I thought, “Oh no.”

[Laughs.] Bad sign.

“The ‘Nature’ Theatre of Oklahoma” illustration from Introducing Kafka (1993)

Bad sign. Those are the people who are really running things. Those are the people that have the power. They liked Bush better, because he wasn’t going to oppose them at all, he was happy to sell out everything. So Obama’s tried, he really has tried. There’s only so much he can do.

Well, see, I’m not convinced he’s tried with the principled tenacity that he ought to have. My major complaint against him is that he isn’t trying; he’s not out there fighting.

Oh yeah, he’s trying.

You think?

I read this one book by Wendell Potter. Do you know who he is?


Wendell Potter is a whistleblower from the health insurance industry, and he’s the one guy from the health insurance industry that had qualms of conscience, quit after being in a big executive position in one of those big companies for 20 years. He just couldn’t stand it any more. And so he came out and started fighting to support health reforms with Obama’s people, and they valued him highly because he was the only guy who understood the byzantine chicanery of the health insurance industry. And so he was very useful in explaining how all their different evil devices worked, their instruments of moneymaking and making sure that they came out on top. And he says in his book that Obama fought every day, worked on that every day for a year, really hard to try and do something. And they just — the money and power, it’s a fucking steamroller, the guy didn’t have a chance.

And, OK, he didn’t get to be president by being radical and an outsider, he’s a game player, he’s a politician, so he played the game enough to get in there, which is a compromise every day. They eat shit every day to get that position, so he’s used to eating shit. [Groth laughs.] But as with Lincoln, Lincoln too was a politician, but in that position, and circumstances being what they are now with who runs things, who could turn it around? Unless you’re talking about armed revolution here. [Laughs.] I hope that the National Security Agency heard that. Yes, I said “Armed Revolution.” [Laughs.] If they’re listening.

Unfortunately, the only armed revolution you're going to see in America will be headed by the Tea Party-types.

Right. Half-baked crazy nonsense. Yeah, that’s true, it’s gonna be a Right-wing thing in America if it happens at all. When the soldiers start disobeying their officers and start turning against them it’ll be from the Right, not from the Left. But it’ll be some new kind of Right wing, very populist and crazy and nutty, and some clever political demagogue will take it over, and we’ll get some new Hitler-type situation. [Laughs.] And I'll just say good luck. [Laughs.]

When you say that Obama is fighting, do you really think he’s providing inspiration for his constituency, for what’s left of the left in this country?

I’m amazed that the guy can think clearly at all any more. [Groth laughs.] I don’t know. That, I don’t know. He’s really up against it. But you read about Lincoln during the Civil War, and you hear the same complaints. To get anybody with any decency in that position of power in a place as rife with money and corruption as the United States, if there’s a shred of decency left, it’s a miracle.

Yeah, it’s an impossible task.

I mean I think Obama’s a decent man.

Well, yeah.

He doesn’t know everything. He’s naïve in a lot of areas. He’s been taken in. I read this incredible thing about South Africa, a really sad case. If you want to read a good book, read Naomi Klein’s book called The Shock—.

The Shock Doctrine. Yeah, I read it.

You read that.


There’s stuff about South Africa that’s really interesting in there. Once the new government took over from the apartheid government and these guys that were supposed to be running the economic policies were figuring it out, and they said that the international banking powers just moved in there and got them by the balls before they even knew what was happening. They were naïve, they didn’t understand, it was so complicated and subtle and tricky, they didn’t even realize, and now they’re in this huge debt to the international financial powers. And Obama, I’m sure, probably wasn’t that savvy on that level. Probably somewhat savvy, but they are just so fucking tricky.

Instead of losing their house, they’re gonna lose their country. [Crumb laughs.] It’s what it amounts to. When the IMF moves in, you know you’re fucked.

That’s their modus operandi.

I have two more questions. One is from Kim Deitch: “All through your career, you have adroitly sidestepped all the usual snares and lures that have brought down or dumbed down many greats of this world. What do you attribute that to? Where did you get your high ideals, and how have you managed to maintain them through the years?”

Well, I could say the same about him. [Groth laughs.] He has maintained his vision.

Yeah, but I think implicit in his question is that you’ve had lots of opportunities to sell out.

Well, I guess I just didn’t have to. Somehow I miraculously was successful enough on my own terms. And I was so used to doing my own stuff my own way that dealing with people that were going to pay you a lot of money to do something that caters to some bullshit thing is just too hateful. I just can’t do it.

Years back, about 10 years ago, a little less, my son Jesse, when I was still involved with him, was approached by this guy who owns Oakley Sunglasses, a big millionaire guy. This was about the time of the dot-com bubble, and this guy wanted to start his own dot-com server, like Gmail or Yahoo, whatever, one of those things, he was gonna start.

“Mode O’Day and Her Pals” Weirdo #12 (Winter 1985-1986)

Oh, brother.

And Jesse was really jazzed up about this because the guy was going to pay him $20,000 to be the liaison to me. And he gave Jesse a check for $200,000 for me; all I had to do was sign on to get the check. $200,000, this was 10 years ago, maybe in the year 2000. People warned me, they said “Don’t do it,” but Jesse really wanted that $20,000. He said, “Please pop, you gotta do this, I could really use the money.” And I was tempted by the $200,000 myself…

I bet.

So I signed on for it, I did it. I felt like such a sellout, but I went for it and I started working on these icons. And the guy was such a pain in the ass to deal with, he said he wanted R. Crumb, but he had no idea what my work was about. And he then had this other guy send me samples of stuff he liked, which was kind of like this really lame-ass graffiti art. Real adolescent-looking stuff, this guy from Oakley Sunglasses. But Jesse got to fly on his private jet down to L.A. and he was all dazzled by the guy. The guy was such an asshole. What was his name? I forget. Anyway, I went to work on these icons, and ugh, it was awful, and I thought, “Oh, how am I gonna get through this, how am I gonna actually do this job and earn my money?” He wanted to give me stock options and shit. And then, the dot-com bubble burst, and he pulled out. He said, “Never mind.” I was so fucking relieved. And I sent him back part of the money, part of the $200,000, sent him back $150,000.

Why’d you do that?

He didn’t think I’d done enough work to earn $50,000 on it. So then he wanted a drawing of himself and his wife.

Oh, God.

So I did that based on a photo. Then he wanted a drawing of his dog, and I said, “I don’t do dogs, sorry.” And he still wasn’t happy so I sent him a piece of original art. I sent him the cover from Hup #2.

[Sighs.] Jesus.

Then he left me alone after that. That’s what happens when you have to deal with people like that for the big money, [Groans.] awful, horrible. [Laughs.] Now, you know, I’ve had offers like from the CEO of Nike, Mark Parker. He’s offered to pay me a very large sum of money to do a very special painting for him, which he wants this and he wants that. I just won’t do it. I don’t need the money that bad. Hundreds of thousands offered me, big, big money, I won’t do it.

Well, you seem almost constitutionally incapable of doing that.

Well, part of it is that I’m just spoiled. I haven’t had to do it since I quit working for American Greetings, basically. We lived on welfare for four years, in the hippy times, but, you know, those were the hippy times, you didn’t need much money to get by.

So do you think that has to do with conscience, or is it selfishness, or where does that come from?

Where does what come from?

Your refusal or inability to do that kind of stuff.

Well, like I said, I haven’t had to, I didn’t have to, I wasn’t forced to. So why should I? My work got accepted on its own terms. Zap Comix and all that, they liked what I was doing just fine. Like I said earlier, I was willing to put out enough to make my stuff entertaining, I didn’t expect the audience to come to me; you have to go to the audience. You can be deep and profound and all that shit, but you’ve gotta still grab them, you’ve gotta entertain them somehow. Confuse them, fascinate them, shock them, something. If you get too arty-farty and expect people to figure out what it is you’re doing, forget it. They'll walk away. Go look at something else.

Yes, you said that earlier, that you’re conscious of entertaining people or grabbing the audience, but I’m wondering how that process integrates itself with your art.

Of being entertaining?

Yeah, how do you integrate your conscious need to entertain with expressing what you’re compelled to express?

Look at cartooning. Look at the whole history of cartooning. What is it? It’s a form of entertainment.

Yeah, it’s a very commercial medium.

It’s a form of storytelling with pictures, and you have to keep the pictures readable, it’s all gotta be readable, you’ve gotta be able to tell a good story, if you’re humorous, it’s gotta be funny [laughs]. Being funny seems to come naturally to me. People say my work’s funny.

It is funny.

It’s also kind of crazy. That kind of fascinates people, the craziness.

But if you do all this naturally, then you don’t have to worry about being entertaining. You’re intrinsically entertaining.

Yeah, maybe. Maybe. I mean, for me, I grew up in a time when cartoons were about light entertainment, so I learned all the techniques of that sort of entertainment, so I could use all those techniques. That’s why I do it.

Yeah, the tropes.

I did that to survive, to connect with the world, because I was such a maladjusted freak. [Laughter.] Such a weirdo, pervert. But a lot of the things that people object to in my work are the parts where it gets the most profoundly personal, the sexual stuff and all that.

Exactly, exactly.

And that’s the part that’s most disturbing, because it gets so heavy, it’s very heavy. When I first started doing that in 1969, I remember distinctly a lot of people who liked the earlier stuff, just not liking that. When I first did Big Ass Comics and all that.

Big Ass #1 (May 1969)

You told me once that you did that precisely because you were becoming too popular, and you wanted to almost scuttle that popularity. Your campaign to do that started with Big Ass Comics.

Yeah, when I saw that that had that effect, I said, “OK, fuck ’em, I’ll just do more of that.” [Laughs.]

But it didn’t quite work. That work was popular too.

Not as much. People kind of accepted that, because that was part of the package, but a lot of people, a lot of people, even other cartoonists had told me that I should drop the indulgent, masturbatory, sexual weirdness. Even Justin Green told me that. He said it was just indulgent. [Laughs.] But I had to do it, had to do it. I dunno know why, don’t know why.

You were compelled.

Get Sigmund Freud up here, maybe he can figure it out.


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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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