Crummy artist left to pick up the scraps
You can call a controversial comic’s work an ‘artwork’. But this doesn’t change its shocking subject matter.
American cartoonist Robert Crumb has repeatedly depicted scenes of rape, incest, paedophilia and bestiality. Many of his works have racist overtones. We should be discouraging him from publishing, and I was relieved to hear yesterday that he had cancelled his Australian tour.
Robert Crumb is a self confessed “weirdo“, whose work promotes exploitation of women and minors. We should not be celebrating him.
Crumb is an underground comic artist originally from the US but now based in France. His most famous comics include Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural and the controversial Book of Genesis.
Crumb is well known for his unconventional style, bizarre subject matter and the confronting realism. In contrast to the superheroes of most comics, Crumb protagonists are symbols of the average man: Nervous, desperate and sexually repressed.
But this is where his problem lies. Crumb’s idea of the “everyman” is really just a projection of his own perverse mind. And consequently, what these cartoons depict is horrible, disturbing scenes.
His character Fritz the Cat is a racist Feline addicted to sex. In the cartoon Mr. Natural, the main character ends up in jail for paedophilia. In one particular Mr. Natural comic strip, Crumb depicts a adult male having sex with an oversized baby. Elsewhere, we find images of women being groped and raped.
But the organisers of the Graphic 2011 festival seem totally oblivious to his nasty comics.
The curators of the festival have developed an alarming attachment to Crumb. Up until yesterday, they were promoting Crumb as the headline cartoonist of the festival. The most advertised event of the festival was a one hour live interview with him.
In addition he was also due to appear on a panel with other ‘revolutionary’ cartoonists. Curator Jason Zarzer described Crumb an “astonishingly gifted artist“. Now that Crumb has cancelled his tour, the co-curator is pleading with him to reconsider.
In addition to this, the Sydney Morning Herald put forward Crumb as a cultural genius, and defended his misogyny. After portraying Crumb as a seminal artist who defined a generational movement, journalist Charles Purcell defended Crumb’s misogyny.
“[Crumb] was never really a plague on women: more an awestruck worshipper of the female form”. Purcell jokingly asked Crumb about his fetish of piggy backing on women. The article finished with Crumb commenting on his bizarre obsession with Serena Williams.
I find all of this very alarming. I think we need to wake up to the reality of this artist. His work is disturbing, and it flows from a warped mind. Crumb has labelled himself a “weird pervert”. I think this is a pretty good self-analysis. But even more alarming is his shamelessness. As he recounted in another interview, “I do these crazy cartoons…I have no defence. I just have to throw up my hands.”
It’s a good thing that Crumb feels offended by the comments made in the Sunday Telegraph on July 31. Maybe it will help him to be a bit more restrained in his comics. In any event, it’s caused him to cancel his trip to Australia. And this will impede the spread of the Crumb-cult.
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