Crumb (1994)
October 13, 2022 7:14 AM - Subscribe

This movie chronicles the life and times of R. Crumb. Robert Crumb is the cartoonist/artist who drew Keep On Truckin', Fritz the Cat, and played a major pioneering role in the genesis of underground comix. Through interviews with his mother, two brothers, wife, and ex-girlfriends, as well as selections from his vast quantity of graphic art, we are treated to a darkly comic ride through one man's subconscious mind.

A film by Terry Zwigoff.

95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Showtime. Also available for digital rental on multiple outlets. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (10 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ages ago, when my college cohort regularly did Friday night dinner and a movie (rented from Blockbuster), we tried watching this. We turned it off at some point, because he made the women in the group feel skeevy.
posted by Spike Glee at 8:00 AM on October 13, 2022

Crumb is a strange, horny little man.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:03 AM on October 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

It's funny how your opinions change over time. My thoughts when I originally saw this, at the time of its original release, was that, yeah, Crumb obviously had problems and issues, but that the rest of his family made him look like the normal one. When I tried rewatching it a few years ago, I got to the scene where he's with an ex-girlfriend and she's trying to talk about him, and he's just sort of pawing at her, and I noped out. Crumb had a huge influence on the underground comics scene, which in turn had a lot of influence on the non-superheroes comics (of which we've seen quite a lot more in the last few decades), but now I'd put his work in roughly the same category as National Lampoon: something that seemed really fresh and daring at the time, but which is now just problematic in all sorts of ways.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:28 AM on October 13, 2022 [4 favorites]

Yeah, it's wild how in 1994 we were conditioned to take him as an eccentric, when in like 2022, it's more like, "This man should be on a registry."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:38 AM on October 13, 2022 [6 favorites]

Even though he's pretty sketchy, the film itself is good.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:27 PM on October 13, 2022

I remember roughly this thought process:

1. Crumb is not as bad as people say.
2. Crumb is just as bad as people say.
3. With that life, he could have been so much worse.

It’s a riveting examination of a talented artist who regularly dumped his id all over the page in an effort to exorcise his (and the nation’s) demons. Whether your stomach and brain are up for that….

This is not a defense, by the way; I don’t particularly care for Crumb’s art or his approach to life — no one should make that journey unless they want to.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:44 AM on October 14, 2022 [3 favorites]

I love you, Metafilter, but dear lord you can be irritating and reductive sometimes.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:37 PM on October 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

Had to do it…

Metafilter: irritating and reductive sometimes
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:19 PM on October 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

Crumb and his art is a good example of how one often needs to segregate the artist from their art in order to appreciate the latter. Crumb’s art was revolutionary and highly influential, both in terms of the drawings themselves, as well as the stories.

Yes, the stories were expressions of the man’s personality/neurosis/kinks/fantasies/biases/etc. But, such deep, personal expression was, itself, revolutionary for comics.

The documentary is, indeed, a bit of a difficult watch, and you often have to force yourself to keep going. It’s kind-of an example of another proviso, namely “never meet your heroes”.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:33 AM on October 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

I saw this a couple of times back in the day and to say that audiences of 1994 took R. Crumb as "eccentric" is off the mark. This movie is relentless about showing the darkness and filth that he shaped into his art, and gives a solid voice to the view that it isn't worth it. It's a deeply ambivalent movie — yes, Terry Zwigoff was a friend and looked on Crumb with some affection, but he's also diagnosing him, or at least inviting us to do so.

There was a lot of unexamined misogyny in the film world of 1994, as there is now, but Crumb doesn't strike me as a good example.
posted by argybarg at 8:50 AM on October 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

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