by Robert Crumb
(from an interview in The Comics Journal #184, 1996)
I am consistently amazed at how lucid he was about the hypocrisy of the flower power generation while it was theoretically still going on and while it was still perceived by a fair number of people as "what we were all going to have to evolve into because this is where we are going." He was able to put on the page very, very effectively the '60s shysters and sharpies and the whole Charles Manson "Hey we can shape this to our own needs." Considering by his own admission he was fucked up on drugs the whole time, that's pretty good insight to not slide underneath it and say "Look, all I have to do is play the game these other guys are playing and the world is my oyster." He really ran against the grain. He swam against the current that favoured him and that to me is great artistic integrity. In terms of the sort of world that's two steps down and hidden behind the veil, to me that's in all of his stuff too. The Devil Girl stuff, Mr Natural and Flakey Foont, it's as much about human relationships as it is, "Hey isn't this funny that way Flakey is just drooling all over this chick?" There are so many levels of meaning. If you're just buying to enjoy the cosmetics of it, you're still going to get full value for your money, but there's a lot more story under there to me.
...when Fantagraphics started doing The Collected Crumb and occasionally going back and looking at the old undergrounds and seeing them in context... there was a lot of Crumb stuff that I had missed, but many I've carried forward through each purge of my collection since 1974. I just look at it and say "By God, there's a guy who really had his head screwed on straight at a time when it would not be a stretch to say it was impossible that anybody had their head screwed on straight."
...I can look through my favourites of Crumb's pieces and that will get me charged up, sitting down and drawing.
The Complete Crumb Comics Vol 1-17 are available from Fantagraphics Books.