Think your family is weird? Well yeah it probably is, they always are.
However this crazy day in the life documentary of underground comic artist Robert Crumb gives us a glimpse into a very odd bunch.
A mother with your classic 1950’s amphetamine addiction, an abusive tyrannical father ashamed of his geeky effeminate boys.
One brother is as crazy as a shit house rat, housebound and a self confessed pedophile. Another brother who is addicted to molesting woman
Then there is Robert, the focus of the whole movie. First things first Robert is a living legend. He is responsible for a huge wave of underground psychedelic comic books that were cropping up in the 1960’s. Although Crumb is largely embarrassed and ashamed of any of his work that has gained commercial success he is an incredibly talent and provocative artist.
You’d have seen his keep on trucking piece, Mr Natural or even Fritz the Cat.
He isn’t just your typical tortured artist he is thought provoking and challenging and his art is definitely a reflection of the man himself.
The documentary focusses on his sexual deviancy and tries to examine his relationship with women through his art.
In fact the makers explore every man’s worst nightmare and track down Crumb’s ex-girlfriends. This actually helps contextualise just how fucking bizarre this dude is, particularly in the sack. He has a giddy school boy attitude towards sex; lots of piggy backs, dry humping and giggling. Saying that one of his ex’s reveals that he has the biggest penis in the world, and she’s a pornographer - so I’m guessing she’s a pretty good judge. In fact she’s probably seen miles of knobs.
The documentary is put together by some heavyweights. Directed by Terry Zwigoff who went on to direct Ghost World and Bad Santa.
Also, the film is “Presented” by David Lynch although it isn’t clear what he actually did on the movie. But fuck it I’d watch David Lynch commissioned dog fight as long as I know Lynch was involved. The mans a genius
Also Terry Gilliam famously donated a Nickel to the film having worked with Crumb in the early 60’s.
Anyway the movie was shot over six years and tracks progress on Crumb’s impending move to France. It’s clear that he has a deep hatred of corporate America and to be fair to the guy he has turned down some massive endorsements including a reported $100,000 fee for designing a Rolling Stones album cover.
Crumb spends a lot of time talking about how much he generally hates society and is clearly an outsider. This is a large part of his reason to move to France he despises America, no actually he hates France less.
Art runs throughout the crumb family. Eldest brother Charles is a superb comic artist who’s work was mirrored by his own decent in to madness. Developing an obsession with an infant character from treasure island, his early work is dominated by this small boy. He later confessed to having a deep sexual attraction to this child cartoon character. Freakish and scary depiction of characters with strange foldings dominate his later work. This is then replaced with maniacal graphomania.
At times Charles’ talk of suicide attempts and not having the will to live could be classic symptoms of the classic “tortured artist”, isolated in a world that clearly wasn’t built for him. However, The end credits reveal that Charles would go on to commit suicide. A sad and tragic story.
The youngest crumb brother Maxon is also an artist, a good one too. He claims to have a had a hankering for art after his violent seizures started. Despite never showing any interest and promise in the area of art.
One of the more positive sides of the documentary is the relationship between Crumb and his own children. 19 years old Jesse from his first wife and his 6 year old daughter Sophie from his current wife. There are some touching moments where he is coaching them both while they sit patiently and draw together. Again this story ends badly with Jesse dying in a car accident last year.
All in all crumb is a fascinating guy, part Larry David part cripplingly shy introvert. Opinionated, giggly and at times childish. However it is clear that his contribution to modern culture and the world of comic books is immeasurable.
Check it out, it’s really interesting and also challenging. It will make you think. Keep on trucking