Robert Crumb: Sketchbooks 1964–1982
If you can stump up the cash, you’ll get to see a lot of work from the dirty old artist of 60s counter-culture
ur biceps had only just recovered from lugging around the last Robert Crumb box set when this one arrived on our desk. Like the first, it’s an epic collection, with six hardback volumes covering his career from mid-60s to early-80s.
In a brief intro Robert discusses the very beginning of his career as a 21-year-old who’d just discovered the joys of drawing with a Rapidograph technical pen. Even as a young man Robert had developed a distinctive
Ostyle, and his trademark spidery, nerdish creeps being overpowered by beluga-like women are present right from the word go. Most artists mature as they grow older, but with Robert it’s the other way round – his drawings become baser and more debauched. But it’s clear that by the mid-70s he’s become more confident in drawing ugly characters engaged in messy sexual acts.
This collection is not going to be for everyone, and 2005’s The R Crumb Handbook is a better place to start for those new to the artist’s depraved mind – and you won’t need to remortgage to buy it, either. But devoted Crumb fans will find a lot to love here, and it’s oddly pleasing to pore over the artist’s unique images.
Robert’s drawings became more debauched as he grew older.