R. Crumb is one of the pioneers of the underground “comix” movement, and undoubtedly one of the breakout stars of that scene (along with Harvey Pekar, Crumb has a feature film documenting his life). He is one of the most skilled portrait artists of his generation, having drawn many prominent musicians (typically blues and jazz musicians) among other public figures.
A part of Crumb’s work that must be addressed is the sexually explicit element that frequently pops up in his work. It is because of that influence that this post is labeled “not safe for work.” I only chose two pieces that are NSFW, and I chose them deliberately – one is a beautifully rendered (and barely not safe for work) portrait of a buxom woman named Lise, which shows Crumb drawing her in an absolutely realistic light, with just a hint of nipple. The other shows Crumb, drawn as realistically as Lise, getting a blowjob from a rather typical Crumb figure – a wide and thick, almost demonic looking woman, with a characteristically large rear end. The juxtaposition of the reality of Crumb and the fantasy of this woman make this image particularly striking, and while lurid and not in the best of taste, the image remains fascinating to spend some time with.
From an issue of “American Splendor.”
The cover to “Zap Comix” #1, featuring classic Crumb character “Mr. Natural.”
A page from Crumb’s collaboration with Charles Bukowski, “Bring Me Your Love.”
One of Crumb’s most enduring creations is Fritz the Cat – this is one of the tamer pages from a Fritz story.
The cover to “Head” #1.
A portrait of the blues legend Son House.
Crumb’s iconic Keep on Truckin’ image.
A portrait of Frank Zappa.
From a short story in “Weirdo” #17.
The cover to Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills album.
From “Varieties of Women,” a feature in W. Magazine.
A panel from Crumb’s illustration of “The Book of Genesis.”
From an issue of “Mineshaft.”
From “Reality Fantasy/Grotesque Burlesque”
Self Portrait, 1986