The Weirdo Years by R. Crumb: 1981-’93
Robert Crumb is THE man in indie comics. Having been around for so long and having put out material of such high quality, and having been such an influence on not just other artists, but other writers and on pop culture in general, it’s imperative that everyone even remotely interested in art (any art) should check out R. Crumb’s work.
But where to start?
Like I said, R. Crumb has such a large body of work, has written so many stories, and is known for so many characters, that’s it’s hard to figure out where to begin — which book respectfully represents R. Crumb.
I’ve read plenty of R. Crumb books over the years, and although I have by no means acquired an exhaustive, The Weirdo Years has been by far the most enjoyable, and is going to be the book I recommend to curious fans from now on.
Unfortunately, The Weirdo Years is lacking some arguably essential R.Crumb stuff like Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural (and really, is Mr. Natural THAT essential?), and that’s a shame, but let’s look at what the Weirdo Years DOES include. In this hefty hefty volume (it took me quite some time to get through all of it), there is basically everything else R. Crumb is known for. There are several of his introspective comics, his commentaries on modern love life, Mode O’Day, sexual dysfunctions, R. Crumb’s take on modern music, Phillip K. Dick’s religious experience, all the Weirdo covers (which are detailed and each amazing in its own right) and even some of R. Crumb’s dirtiest secrets, and many more. So in other words, a very wide variety of topics, all brought to life in R. Crumb’s cartoon style. There are some of the silly photographed comics he made for Weirdo (which are OK), but honestly, the sheer output in this volume is so vast that it’s a perfect collection of what R. Crumb likes and how he thinks.
In conclusion, this might not be the most all-encompassing look into R.Crumb’s work (which will be impossible to do for some time since he is still active), but it’s hard to argue that these aren’t his best stories.