In Cartooning, Events, Visual Storytelling on June 17, 2010 at 1:00 am
While I will admit that I’ve never been a close follower of his work, it has been my general impression that most of Robert Crumb’s artistic output since the release of Terry Zwigoff’s documentary about him has been about Crumb’s bizarre persona as presented in the film. The cover of Self-Loathing Comics #1 from 1995 proclaims “Exposed! Details of R. Crumb’s everyday life!” I can’t say I’ve ever been particularly interested. Even his well-known material from the 1960s and ‘70s is so steeped in the alternative drug culture of the time that it fails to appeal to me, as someone with no particular interest in that period of history.
However, no one can deny that Crumb is an absolutely brilliant illustrator. He consistently creates comic pages of astounding detail and is possessed of an instinct for page layout and panel progressions. Watching film of him drawing, either in Zwigoff’s Crumb or in Ron Mann’s excellent comics documentary Comic Book Confidential, he makes the process look effortless. It’s too bad I find most of his work so obnoxious. Read the rest of this entry »
In Visual Storytelling on June 10, 2010 at 1:00 am
In general I don’t really like autobiographical comics. I have nothing against the idea, and I greatly enjoy the work of cartoonists like Alex Robinson (Box Office Poison) and Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets) who, like the best contemporary novelists, draw on their personal experiences to lend their fiction an air of authenticity.
Most cartoonists doing straight autobiography in comics move through two distinct phases with their work. First it’s post-college angst, with comics about the seemingly universal experience of living in dumpy apartments, working miserable jobs, and going to parties and bars, with particular attention paid to romantic failure. Next, assuming the cartoonist has some success with the first phase, comes an endless series of comics about the experience of going to comic book conventions, which makes sense as this is one of the few times a dedicated cartoonist gets away from the drawing table. This rarely makes for interesting reading, even if you get all the in-jokes and pop culture references, and the frequent mean-spirited humor directed at convention-goers strikes me as not only petty, but biting the hand that feeds as well.
There are always exceptions, however, and there are a few cartoonists doing autobiographical stuff whose work makes me eat my words. Read the rest of this entry »