R. Crumb: Quality vs Content!

I have mixed feelings about the cartoonist R. Crumb. On the one hand, he has a a very well-developed, very compelling style.

Style aside, the content of his work often makes me rather uncomfortable! Not all of it–I mean his women. I myself am a woman. I am a young woman with big hips and bicycling legs and such, in fact. This makes his–shall we say… colorful fantasies all the more iffy. Idolizing women, fearing them, fetishizing them, wanting to reduce them to one thing or another. All these pneumatic strongwomen being ridden and choked by scrawny little guys and stuff. Not cool!

When I was younger, he just creeped me out like none other. I could spot Crumb drawings (“Keep On Truckin!”) from a mile away, much to my chagrin. Not that I needed to look that far–there was plenty of his stuff in the house, like this charming print, and this figurine, and this, my least favorite of all posters.* Nowadays, I really appreciate the skill and energy that goes into his work. Also, I can better articulate to myself WHY it makes me really uncomfortable! It’s like a catchy, well-arranged song with a sketchy, sketchy message you don’t like.

*Just a note–it’s not that there is a ton of R. Crumb memorabilia around my family home: There’s just a lot of almost any given thing.

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