Crumb's awareness of his own limitations and hypocrisies provides a head-clearing howl that runs through The R. Crumb Handbook.
This collection of original cartoons and never-before-published work takes readers on a unique journey through the life and times of one of the 20th century's most notorious and influential counter-culture artists.
Robert Crumb was born in Philadelphia on Aug. 30, 1943. In 1962 Crumb got his first real job as an illustrator at American Greetings in Cleveland. The tedious work had him on the brink of quitting until he was promoted to the role of illustrator for the slightly edgier Hi-Brow line. After sending an early Fritz the Cat cartoon to Kurtzman at Help! magazine, Crumb received the following note from him: "We really liked the cat cartoon, but we're not sure how we can print it and stay out of jail." But print it they did. Soon Crumb was working as Kurtzman's assistant at the short-lived Help! The turning point in Crumb's career came in 1965, when he took some LSD. He stopped writing his characters from life and created his most inspired character, Mr. Natural. Zap Comics, consisting entirely of Crumb art, debuted in 1967, with Crumb and his wife selling the first issue on San Francisco street corners. Underground comics are now remembered as an indispensable part of the era, but it was Zap that blazed the trail. Crumb's rambling, hallucinogenic, sexually explicit cartoons became the visual expression of the Haight-Ashbury scene. Particularly memorable was his "Keep on Truckin" image. Keep on Truckin', along with Fritz the Cat and his cover art for Big Brother and the Holding Company's "Cheap Thrills" album, helped make Crumb famous, an icon of the hippie scene. By late 1969 Crumb had joined with S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, Gilbert Shelton, Spain Rodriguez and Robert Williams to create the seven-member Zap Collective, which published copies of the magazine sporadically for the next two decades. Crumb also turned out voluminous work in publications with titles like "Weirdo," "Black and White," "Big Ass Comics" and "People's Comics," in which he killed off Fritz the Cat in 1972, whom he came to despise.