Crumb (1994) Movie Script

If I don't draw for a while,
I get really crazy.
I start feeling depressed and suicidal
if I don't get to draw.
But sometimes when I'm drawing,
I feel suicidal, too.
What are you trying to get at
in your work?
I don't know.
I don't work in terms of conscious
messages. I can't do that.
It has to be something...
I'm revealing to myself while
I'm doing it, which is hard to explain.
Which means that while I'm doing it,
I don't know exactly what it's about.
You have to have the courage
to take that chance.
What's gonna come out?
What's coming out of this?
I enjoy drawing.
It's a deeply ingrained habit.
It's all because of my brother Charles.
Hello, Mother?
I'm in Philadelphia.
I'm going to give a talk
at the art school downtown tomorrow.
So Terry and this film crew
are here with me.
They'd like to come over
and drop me off there...
and talk possibly to Charles...
about maybe filming him
if you're not...
He doesn't want to do it?
All right.
That's okay.
Doesn't matter.
Not if you don't want him to.
I certainly won't...
All right. Bye.
Well, that's that.
I start with this one...
because it's probably the thing
I'm most well-known for.
You could see it for a long time
on truck mud flaps.
I don't know why it caught
the popular imagination.
It caused me nothing but headaches
for ten years after I drew it:
lawsuits and I.R.S. problems.
It was a nightmare just because
of this stupid Keep on truckin.
So don't anybody come to me and say,
Hey, R.! Keep on truckin!
This is probably the next thing...
I'm most well-known for.
I'm trying to hook you in
to who I am.
This sold millions of copies.
I got $600...
from CBS records in 1968.
And they kept my artwork.
They stole my artwork, those bastards.
I heard recently
that the original of this...
sold at Sotheby's for $21,000.
This is the third thing
I'm the most well-known for...
because this was made into
a major full-length animated cartoon...
which was an embarrassment to me
for the rest of my life.
I have to say I had nothing to do
with the cartoon.
I didn't want them to do it.
I thought they were schlockmeisters.
They just rolled right over me.
So I had this character killed in a
later story. I had a female ostrich...
stab him in the head with an ice pick.
When I first met him,
he never talked, he just drew.
He was catatonic,
and the only voice he had was his pen.
He was very productive.
My mother thought he was retarded
when she met him.
She said, Some people like cripples,
some like retards.
She thought I was a real creep
when she first met me.
He's more comfortable after knowing
the same people for a long time.
He's a little more communicative...
but still he clams up.
He gets stilted in his conversation
around anybody he doesn't know well.
That's why I'm such
an exciting subject for a movie.
Watch out with those weights.
- Don't hit me with those things.
- Don't go behind me.
These rich rednecks have moved out here
and built their dream homes...
on the top of every single hill.
There used to be nothing over here.
Then these people bought this property.
- They might hear you.
- Look at this house.
- Not too loud.
- Right above our house.
- Looks right into Robert's studio.
- Be quiet.
I don't care if they hear me.
Couldn't be any ruder than them
putting their house right above mine.
What do I care?
I guess not, since we're moving
to France, what do you care?
They have a plan to widen this road and
put it through where these trees are.
There's a big X that
the surveyors sprayed on here...
and I erased it the other day.
Then I took out their sticks
from the other side of the road.
They're going to widen this road...
and take a big chunk of land
out of that side with all these trees.
Put 12 dream homes back in there.
We decided to chain ourselves to these
oak trees if they try and take them out.
Our house is so humble
nestled against the hill. Tasteful.
All these other houses are oriented
to look down at our place...
because it's like a backdrop for
their air-conditioned nightmare houses.
Each hilltop can view
each other hilltop. The shmucks.
I'm drawing portraits of girls I had
crushes on in high school in Delaware.
This one I'm drawing now
is Winona Newhouse...
affectionately known among the boys
as The Shelf.
She had this phenomenal rear shelf.
She was nice, too, actually.
She was kind to me.
This one here, Naomi Wilson...
was this cross-eyed farm girl
that wore homemade clothes.
I secretly had a crush on her.
I was sexually attracted to her.
Of course, you'd never dare
admit it openly...
that you like this funky girl
that had B.O. and hairy legs.
That's Jean Strahle. I liked her, too.
She was also considered a dork.
She was a bookwormy type
that talked with a lisp...
and had shapely, powerful legs.
I never actually had any contact
with these girls...
except I used to play footsie
with this one.
Where are they now?
Thirty years ago.
They're all middle-aged housewives now.
Jesus, what a thought.
Winona. I wish she was here now...
this 17-year-old Winona...
instead of this film crew.
When I listen to old music,
it's one of the few times...
I actually have a kind of love
for humanity.
You hear the best part of the soul
of the common people.
It's their way of expressing...
their connection to eternity
or whatever you want to call it.
Modern music doesn't have
that calamitous loss.
People can't express themselves
that way anymore.
It was late 1948...
when I was five years old, we moved
to this section of Philadelphia.
This is this project that we lived in.
I can't remember which we lived in.
They all look the same.
Jesus. It's grim here.
Oh, my God! This is where
we went to the market.
There was a dime store
that sold toys there.
We used to buy candy and stuff
and comic books.
The three brothers, me, Charles
and Maxon, hung around together a lot.
We'd rummage for stuff in the dump.
One time Charles brought this thing
back from the dump.
It was this beautiful wooden truck.
Like an ice cream truck made of wood.
I wanted it really bad.
He wouldn't let me touch it.
He was spiteful that way.
So I made a big fuss,
and I told my mother.
She said, Charles,
let him play with that.
He said, Okay.
About 15 minutes later, he said,
Okay, you can play with it now.
I ran outside, and he had smashed it
to smithereens against the wall.
Charles, you read
any good books lately?
Yeah, I guess I have.
I don't know.
You seem to be recycling
a lot of these books.
What do you mean by recycling?
You read them 20 years ago.
Now you're reading them again.
I'm reading them again. Yeah.
I do that because
there's nothing else to do.
You've read them all.
You ever read anything new?
I haven't read Kant or Hegel.
- You have any interest in that stuff?
- Maybe I'll get around to reading them.
- You read any recent writers?
- Not really, no.
- Not interested in them?
- Most aren't that good or interesting.
They're not as interesting
as the Victorian writers...
of the late 19th century.
I always kind of envied your life
in a way.
My life has become so hectic.
Why? Because I was so detached
from the human race?
Is that one of the reasons
why you envy me?
This cloistered environment
with your books.
Believe me, it's nothing to envy.
Charles started this comic thing.
He was completely obsessed with comics
when we were kids...
and had absolutely no other
normal kid interest.
He wasn't interested in toys or games.
He didn't play sports.
He didn't do anything but read comics,
draw comics, think comics and talk them.
I like drawing, but I had other
drawing interests besides comics.
I liked to draw realistic scenes...
just pictures of buildings
and cars and stuff.
He wasn't interested in that at all.
It was only comics.
This is the earliest one that still
exists that I have. Charles drew this.
That's supposed to be me,
and that's him.
You made me feel absolutely worthless
if I wasn't drawing comics.
I don't think I would have done that.
I don't think I was as far gone as that.
Maybe I was just unconsciously
imitating the old man.
- What was he like?
- My father was an overbearing tyrant.
Yes, he was.
Maybe I was unconsciously imitating him
when I forced you to draw comic books.
There's still a kind of sibling rivalry
between me and Robert...
like there was when we were kids
and he was still living at home.
I think basically Robert and I
are still competing with each other.
It's like when I'm drawing comics,
I still think of Charles' approval...
whether or not he's going to like them.
Charles had everybody drawing comics
in the family.
The Animal Town Publishing Company.
That was a club we had...
where we sat around
and talked about comics.
I was usually the president.
Robert was usually the vice president.
Carol was usually the secretary...
and Sandy was the treasurer
and Maxon was the supply boy.
And he still resents that.
He still resents the fact we imposed
the role of supply boy on him.
Max Crumb in room 310?
Maxon was the scapegoat in the family.
Of five kids, he was definitely
on the bottom of the heap.
Just to explain...
we had these meetings for this club
Charles put together called...
The Animal Town Comics Club.
Something to do with comics.
Everybody had their job, a secretary,
a president, a vice president.
I was supply boy.
I got it more heavy or direct than
Robert, but there was the whole thing.
It was like a crazy sibling thing
between me, Charles and Robert...
in this room upstairs...
and the world didn't know
what the fuck was going on.
It was like three primordial monkeys
working it out in the trees.
Me and Maxon slept in the same bed
until we were 16 or something.
Very intimate, close situation.
Charles was inspired
by the Disney movie...
where Robert Newton plays
Long John Silver.
After we saw it on TV in 1955...
we started playing pirates
like normal kids do.
We'd go out and pretend.
We made this ship
out of an old refrigerator carton.
Charles would walk around town
dressed up like Long John Silver.
He had this old coat of my mother's,
this long, green coat.
He made himself a three-cornered hat
out of some woman's hat.
He had a crutch, and he'd tie up his leg
and go around town that way.
I didn't realize how fixated Charles was
on Treasure Island till years later.
This thing dominated our play
and our fantasy for six or seven years.
We drew these comics...
about Treasure Island, ' and it became
this real Baroque, elaborate thing...
way beyond the original Disney film.
This is one of Charles'.
This is one of our two-man comics
in which he would draw...
some of the characters and I would
draw some and have them interact.
That was a great school
of cartooning for me...
having to come up
with clever retorts to him.
He was actually much cleverer
and funnier than I was.
It got tiresome, but you had to do it.
He was in charge.
I had this very definite,
bad problem about Charles.
I think a lot of it had to do
with my morbid sensitivity to the guy...
as well as his natural affinity
to get in there and profit off it.
Robert was somewhat of a middleman.
It had this way of restricting...
or causing this terrible
self-consciousness in me as a kid.
I was morbidly modest about my body.
Sex was completely removed.
When it came time for me to become
sexually aware when I was in puberty...
Sex was nowhere near in my life.
I had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Sex was so heavily repressed.
That's when the seizures started.
I had a seizure. And a seizure's like
a point where your behavior becomes...
I'd have to get into the whole sex trip,
which is an awful involved topic.
All I thought about when I was
in my late teens and early 20s was sex.
I masturbated about four or five times
a week. How frequently did you...
I don't masturbate anymore now that
my sexual desires are completely dead.
Like I told you,
I can't get an erection anymore.
My God!
I don't know whether it's one thing
or a combination of things.
Maybe a combination of the medication
and lack of external stimulation.
Maybe approaching old age
has something to do with it. Who knows?
You need some external stimulation
to keep up your interest.
Now that my sexual desires are gone,
I'm not sure I want them back again.
My earliest sexual memories?
I remember being like four years old
and getting erections.
I guess my aunt or my mother's sister...
Humping her legs and her shoes
like under the table.
I remember going in my mother's closet.
She had cowboy boots...
she wore when it rained...
and humping those in the closet.
And I remember singing while doing it.
Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
I remember...
when I was about five or six
I was sexually attracted to Bugs Bunny.
I cut out this Bugs Bunny
off the cover of a comic book...
and carried it around with me
in my pocket...
and took it out
and looked at it periodically.
It got wrinkled from handling.
I asked my mother to iron it
to flatten it out.
She did, and I was deeply disappointed
because it got all brown and brittle...
and it crumbled apart.
What was it about Bugs Bunny
that you found exciting?
I had this sexual attraction
to cute cartoon characters.
You tell me!
I don't know.
That all changed when I turned 12,
and I became fixated on Sheena.
Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, '
a TV show around '55, '56.
I became totally obsessed with Sheena
and went to bed every night...
thinking about the things
I wanted to do with Sheena.
Robert was very hung up on sex
when he was a little kid...
even more so than I was.
- I was? You think so?
- Yeah.
You were more inhibited as a child
than I was, even sexually.
You were more afraid of women than I was
as a young person.
When I was in high school,
I had a few dates with girls.
When you were in high school,
you didn't have any dates with anybody.
You were actually
sort of good-Iooking.
I was a handsome, good-Iooking chap
when I was a teenager.
But there was just something
that was wrong with my personality.
The teachers hated him,
the kids hated him.
High school was an absolute nightmare.
I was the most unpopular kid
in the high school.
People were always picking on me
and beating me up.
And the girls wouldn't
have anything to do with me.
They treated me like I was
the scum of the earth.
In this strip, I'm talking all about
my problems with women...
starting with high school
where I learned a lot about women...
because there was this guy
named Skutch, this guy here...
who was like this mean bully...
but he was also very charming.
All the girls liked him.
He was the dreamboat...
but he was also a bully.
My brother Charles was one of the guys
he singled out for particular attention.
He had this gang of flunkies
that hung around with him, with Skutch.
So I remember this scene...
where Skutch punches out my brother
in the hallway at school.
It was a very sad sight
for me to see.
Charles gave up trying to be popular
or have girlfriends...
after everybody saw he couldn't fight
back, that he was beat up by Skutch.
I've been living at home
since I graduated from high school.
I made a few feeble attempts
along the way.
You're no worse off than people that are
in the world and have to deal with it.
But you got to take into consideration
that I'm taking tranquilizers.
And that makes it a lot easier
than it would otherwise be...
by taking these tranquilizers
and antidepressants.
If it wasn't for them, I'd probably
go completely crazy living with Mother.
I have to walk on eggs
when I'm around her.
Yeah, you do.
You can't tell my mother
the absolute truth.
She's in a heavy state of denial
about a lot of things.
I don't think
we should be talking about this.
- Where's my kitty cats?
- About her mother, she's...
What the hell's going on?
She doesn't like you to talk about
her mother who was a complete monster.
- What?
- Fix that thing in the hallway.
- What thing?
- The window.
What's wrong with it?
- It's some film equipment or something.
- It's some kind of film equipment.
- Where are my kitty cats?
- I don't know.
Don't worry about it. It's all gonna be
out of here and back to normal.
Here it shows these girls talking about
how one of their friends...
got a date with Skutch
and how envious they all are.
This is how I felt about it.
I'm a little bitter about it,
as you can see.
I show here how I thought
that most teenage boys...
are very cruel and aggressive.
And if girls could see that I was more
kind and sensitive, they would like me.
They were kind of impressed
by the fact I could draw.
I couldn't understand why they liked
these cruel, aggressive guys and not me.
I was more kind and sensitive,
more like them.
I didn't realize they didn't want you
to be like them, basically.
I felt very hurt
and cruelly misunderstood...
because I considered myself
talented and intelligent...
and yet I was not
very attractive physically.
I didn't think those things mattered.
It was what's inside that was important.
When I was 13 and 14 and trying to be
a normal teenager, I was really a jerk.
I tried to act
like I thought they were acting.
It came out all wrong and weird,
so then I stopped completely...
and became a shadow,
I wasn't even there.
People weren't aware that I was...
in the same world they were in.
That freed me completely because
I wasn't under pressures to be normal.
So I got interested in old-time music,
and went to the black section of town...
knocking on doors
and looking for old records...
and things like that
that would be unthinkable...
if you were going to be
a normal teenager.
Starting about 17, I started being
driven by that obsession that...
I'll go down in history as
a great artist. That'll be my revenge.
This is my image
celebrating Valentine's Day.
February 13, 1962.
I decided to reject conforming
when society rejected me.
I've heard all about
that 'be yourself' stuff.
When I'm myself,
people think I'm nuts.
Guess I'll have to be satisfied
with cats and old records.
Girls are just utterly
out of my reach.
They won't even let me draw them.
All that changed
after I got famous.
Absolutely, I would love
to pose for you.
Anytime you want to come by and visit,
that'd be really nice.
- Excellent.
- I always wanted to see you again.
Some of the early Weirdo collages...
and also some publications.
We managed to track them down.
I think Crumb...
is basically the Brueghel
of the last half of the 20th century.
There wasn't a Brueghel of the first
half, but there is of the last half.
And that is Robert Crumb...
because he gives you
that tremendous kind of impassion...
of lusting, suffering,
crazed humanity...
in all sorts of bizarre,
gargoyle-like allegorical forms.
He's got this very powerful imagination,
which goes over the top a lot...
but it very seldom lies.
He's Mr. Natural.
He accepts women
how they really are...
and makes them even more beautiful
than they really...
Like that woman.
I mean, she's really...
She's got energy, form and drive.
You can't push these women around.
They're not wimps.
He gives power to women.
He made it okay for me
to have a butt.
He did a drawing of me,
which I really liked a lot. It was neat.
It showed my thighs as they really are.
He helped me change my self-image.
I had felt so inadequate before.
It was like I didn't know...
Believe me, Stevayne,
you're adequate.
Oh, you're so adequate.
I feel Robert's work...
is one of the most pertinent
social portraits...
of an era...
touching issues related to politics...
to sex, to drugs, to religion...
to the fine arts.
And I would say Robert
is the Daumier of our time.
He's a very remarkable artist, indeed.
The tradition that I see him
belonging to is, essentially...
the one of graphic art
as social protest, social criticism...
which, of course,
has extremely long roots.
There are elements of Goya in Crumb.
Goya's sense of monstrosity...
comes out in those menacing bird-headed
women of Crumb's for instance.
Robert! In front of all these people?
The undergrounds are alive and well.
Whole industry sprung up.
They're still reprinting the early ones.
Number two, number four.
God only knows how many of those
have been printed by now.
Puke and Explode. '
It's called Puke and Explode.
That's new. Who put that out?
I don't know about these kids today.
I guess you really started all this.
You created this whole thing.
You're responsible.
I don't like to take credit for that.
Some of this stuff,
I know nobody would.
I'm a really big fan of yours.
I'm wondering if there's any chance
I can get an autograph from you.
I don't think so.
I don't believe in giving autographs.
Okay, well thanks anyway.
- When are you actually moving?
- Couple months.
France isn't perfect or anything.
But it's slightly less evil
than the United States, I think.
But that's not why I'm moving.
Talk to my wife if you want to know
why I'm moving.
We do have something here
that we wanted to show you.
- Yeah?
- Yeah. 1967 rock concert poster.
Extremely rare item.
Its my only rock concert poster
I ever did.
There's this legend I keep hearing.
People telling me...
Somebody told me you used to live with
the Grateful Dead in Haight Ashbury...
and you hung around with Jerry Garcia. '
I never had anything to do
with those guys. I hated that music.
I went to a couple of those
rock concerts and just fell asleep.
Found it completely boring,
that psychedelic music.
I've got something for you.
I want to tell you a little secret.
It's called Om Mani Padme Hum.
This is where I get recognized more than
anyplace in the world, on Haight Street.
- Amazing.
- I know. These are my people!
People come to me and say,
R. Crumb!
Sometimes some guy will sit with me...
and chew my ear off
about all his hopes and dreams.
Usually it's some broken-down
hippie-pest guy.
It's never like a beautiful young
20-year-old girl.
It's just so interesting
to come here and draw people.
That's the main reason I come here,
just to watch people.
That girl was sitting here one day.
Beautiful girl.
I drew this other girl.
She came up and wanted the drawing.
So I cut it out,
gave it to her.
- Good way to meet girls.
- Right.
I drew this girl.
She invited me to her house.
Unfortunately, she wasn't
very attractive.
You kept the picture, I see.
It's ironic that you're
so identified with the '60s.
At the time, it didn't seem you fit in
with that flower child thing.
I tried!
I used to come here every day
and try and be one of them.
My main motivation was,
get some of that free love action.
but I wasn't too good at it.
People would ask,
Are you a narc?
They would move away from you
at the love-in. I look like I do now.
Exactly. You, in effect...
- You did have a costume.
- It wasn't the right costume.
I remember Janis Joplin giving me
this piece of advice.
Crumb, what's the matter with you?
Don't you like girls?
I said, Of course I like girls.
What do you think?
She said, Just let your hair grow long,
get a satin, billowy shirt...
velvet jackets and bell bottoms
and platform shoes.
You'll do all right.
I just couldn't do that.
The whole thing was too silly to me.
I couldn't get with it.
Here's a real beautiful one.
I should get...
The work in this book,
the art, the feelings...
are what made me fall in love
with Robert.
The way he saw colors
and the way he saw women.
When I was 17 years old,
I looked a lot like that.
So I was what he had been drawing.
I was the embodiment of what
he had been drawing for years.
It's such a sweet,
romantic vision of things.
He did this book.
It took him, I think, a year.
That was his life.
He had just finished the book
days before we met.
My parents were always fighting
all the time.
I used to say,
I'm never getting married.
My father said, You'll marry the first
one that comes along. He was right.
Robert always had a sketchbook
or two going.
He was constantly drawing.
If we were in a restaurant,
he'd draw on the place mat.
If we were on the bus,
he'd draw on his bus ticket.
I had this big change
in 1965 and '66.
It was visionary.
Very powerful,
kind of knock-you-on-your-ass...
visionary experience.
This is my sketchbook for 1966
that covers that period.
I took this very weird drug.
Supposedly it was LSD,
but it had a really weird effect.
It made my brain all fuzzy.
This effect lasted
for a couple of months.
I started getting these images,
cartoon characters like this...
that I'd never drawn before
with these big shoes and everything.
I let go of trying to have any coherent,
fixed idea about what I was doing.
I started being able to draw these
stream-of-consciousness comic strips.
Just kind of making up stuff.
It didn't have to make any sense.
It could be stupid.
It didn't make any difference.
All the characters that I used
for the next several years...
came to me during this period.
These fit into this vision I was having.
It was a revelation of some seamy side
of America's subconscious.
When I was drawing this,
there was this young girl. She was 11.
She said, Isn't that cute?
To me, it was like a horror show,
this whole thing.
And she thought it was really cute
and happy looking.
To me, it was like a drawing
of the horror of America.
There were these hippie underground
papers starting up in '66, '67.
Every town had one or two of them.
They would print anything if it was
related to the psychedelic experience...
or the hippie ethic.
So I started submitting...
these LSD-inspired comics
I had been doing...
to these papers,
and they liked them.
Then this guy came who suggested
I do a whole issue of his paper.
It was called Yarrowstalks.
I did that, and that went over big.
He said, Why don't you do psychedelic
comic books, and I'll publish them?
So I set to work, and I did
two whole issues of Zap Comix.
Crumb was incredibly exciting
and incredibly hot.
There were just a handful of us...
doing this new form of comics.
And what he was doing
was just more innovative...
than what any of us
had even thought of.
It was fun to be a part of that
and to see Zap suddenly everywhere.
From this concept of Robert's, this
fantasy of doing his own comic book...
with a glossy cover
and actually printed...
to seeing it turning up in all the
windows on Haight Street, around town...
hearing people talk about it...
having the other artists show up
and wanting to be a part of it.
It happened very quickly. It seems to me
it happened in a matter of weeks.
Crumb gave the ownership of Zap
to the artists. There was no editor.
There was a certain point where
it seemed underground comics...
could get into the big time...
and Crumb always seemed reluctant
to push that sort of thing.
They were offering him 100,000 bucks...
just to start talking.
Robert turned it down
in two seconds.
Aline screamed in the background,
What are you doing? We need money.
Forget it! I'm not going on
Saturday Night Live.
The Rolling Stones wanted me to do
an album cover.
A couple other deals like that.
I said No.
This is not something you see
every day in America...
where selling out
is everybody's ambition.
After about a year of recognition
and all the bullshit of fame...
I just said, Fuck it...
and I started drawing the dark part
of myself again in the comics...
which I'd always kept hidden before.
I was used to what he had been doing...
which was really quite sweet.
Then he did this one that was...
just incredibly hostile to women...
very sexually hostile.
I wasn't expecting it.
I was really shocked and taken aback.
And just kind of like, whack!
It's hard for me to believe...
that he can't channel himself
into doing better work.
I like a lot of his work. And I don't
miss the satirical aspect of it.
Then I have a different reaction.
Perhaps one of being really
turned off and disgusted.
And you know this cartoon,
Joe Blow...
is one that I thought about a lot
in that light.
On the one hand,
it's a satire of a 1950s...
the healthy facade
of the American family.
It kind of exposes the sickness
under the surface.
But at the same time you sense...
that Crumb is getting off on it
himself in some other way.
On another level,
it's a self-indulgent orgy in a fantasy.
And the fantasy,
specifically, this story...
is a story about a father...
who commands his daughter
to give him a blow job.
She does,
and they wind up having sex.
And the little Leave-It-To-Beaver type
brother comes running in...
and sees the father and his sister,
and he's shocked.
He runs to the mother
to tell her.
And Mom comes out of a closet wearing
a sort of S&M getup.
And the little boy says, Oh, cool.
The next thing,
Mom and son are having sex.
The whole cartoon ends
with the parents saying...
Gee, we should spend more time
with the kids. ' Very funny.
So you read something like this...
and I think that it has
gone over the line...
from satire of a 1950s...
hygienic family in denial...
into something which
is just Crumb producing pornography.
I think this theme in his work
is omnipresent.
It's part of an arrested
juvenile vision.
Crumb's material comes out of a deep
sense of the absurdity of human life.
At a certain psychic level, there aren't
any heroes, villains or heroines.
Even the victims are comic.
It's this which people in America
find rather hard to take...
because it conflicts
with their basic feelings.
That sort of mixture of utopianism on
one hand and Puritanism on the other...
which is only another kind
of utopianism...
which has given us the kind
of messy discourse that we have today.
So Crumb, like all great satirists,
is an outsider in his own country.
Jesus! The fucking
raging epithet music...
coming out of every car, every store,
every person's head.
If they don't have noisy radios,
they got earphones on like...
Motherfuckin' cock suckin'
son of a bitch.
That's a lot of aggression.
A lot of anger, a lot of rage.
Everybody's walking advertisements.
They've got advertisements
on their clothes.
Go walking around with Adidas
written across their chests...
or 49ers on their hats.
Jesus. It's pathetic.
It's pitiful.
The whole culture's one unified field...
of bought, sold,
market-researched everything.
It used to be people fermented
their own culture.
It took hundreds of years,
and it evolved over time.
That's gone in America.
People now don't even have
any concept that there ever was...
a culture outside of this thing
that's created to make money.
Whatever's the biggest, latest thing,
they're into it.
You just get disgusted after a while
with humanity...
for not having more,
kind of like...
intellectual curiosity about
what's behind all this jive bullshit.
Charles and I talk
quite a bit about things.
- We don't talk that much.
- Yeah, we do.
We hold aloof from each other
for the most part.
You spend all your time
watching television...
and doing your crossword puzzles.
I don't watch television. I turn it on
because it puts me to sleep.
It's a good way to get to sleep.
We're two recluses
living in the same house.
I wake up at 3:00 a.m.
and it's still on.
You do most of the talking
in the relationship, Mother.
There's no doubt about that.
You told me that even though you take
medication, you still feel depressed.
Yeah, but not as much as I would
if I wasn't taking the medication.
What would happen
if you stopped taking that stuff?
I don't know.
I tried it a couple of times...
and I didn't like what was starting
to happen to me.
- He gets insomnia.
- I felt I was becoming unhinged.
So I got back on them in a big hurry.
I tried this a couple of times,
about two or three times.
Do you still think
they're picking my brain, Mother?
You have nothing to hide,
nothing to be ashamed of.
He's a good person.
People like Charles.
You know.
Some people like me
and some don't.
I'm a very quiet,
well-behaved citizen.
- I've gone from one extreme to another.
- You've gone in a complete circle.
You used to make trouble
on the streets.
One of the last times I went out
with you, we were walking around...
and you went up to some old lady
on the street...
and started drilling her
about her spiritual life...
and she got frightened
and threatened to call the police.
Charles goes up to these strangers
on the streets, starts raving at them.
He was just a kid having fun.
- This was when he was about 30.
- No, he wasn't!
He's still doing that kind of stuff.
Now he doesn't leave the house.
He got in trouble whenever he went out.
Will you give me one good reason
for leaving the house?
At least he's not out
taking illegal drugs.
- No, he's taking legal drugs.
- I'm taking legal dope.
Or being married and making
some woman miserable.
This is true.
One thing that kind of...
I spent all this money.
And he's got these $200 teeth upstairs
and he won't wear them.
- They're too uncomfortable.
- At first.
You gotta leave them in there.
Then you don't know they're there.
I never go anywhere, see anybody.
What does he need them for?
To chew food or what?
Pride in his own appearance.
He never goes out.
What does he care what he looks like?
I take a bath about once
in six weeks.
I believe in having
a certain pride in yourself.
In a way not that your ego gets out
of hand and you're an egomaniac...
Pride can't exist
except in relation to other people.
Yeah. That's right.
I don't know. Your hygiene habits
are pretty good.
I'm never constipated.
That's about all I can say for myself.
That's something. You don't have
hemorrhoids? Then you're doing good.
Your father used to have trouble
that way, with constipation.
He was constipated all the time.
- You were really obsessed with...
- I could say something, but I won't.
You always gave us kids castor oil.
You were obsessed with constipation.
When all you kids were real little,
I had to take care of you by myself.
That period where you used to try
giving us all enemas? That didn't work.
- I never gave you enemas.
- Somebody...
You always threatened to give us enemas
if we didn't behave properly.
- I did not!
- Somebody tried to give me an enema.
- She wouldn't admit it, but...
- That it's not a regular suburban house?
It's a suburban house...
that looks like Whatever Happened
to Baby Jane or something.
She has weird trinkets around?
She has cats.
The whole place smells like pee.
Don't say that on the film.
She doesn't want people in the house.
The next thing my mother knows,
this whole crew is filing in the door.
Oh, no pictures!
No way, Jose she says.
Terry says, No, we're going upstairs.
We're gonna do it in Charles' room.
Of course then she got into it, and
after a while, you couldn't shut her up.
She talked on.
She chattered on and on.
It was awful.
- What year is this? 1970.
- I'd just met you.
This is when I first met you
in 1969.
That's me. I remember that.
- This doesnt look like me.
- You're right. Let me touch it up.
The nose is too bulbous.
The eyes are too far apart also.
It's too late now, really.
This was 18 years ago.
- God, it just...
- How about this drawing of you?
I remember we were in this restaurant.
This is ridiculous. Oh, good.
- I'm still rolling.
- She almost fell off the roof.
But she can't see the notebook.
That's me?
That's you with your hair dryer.
There's Terry.
That's me.
I like that drawing.
That's one of the few drawings I liked.
So you're going to sell these books
and I don't get a percentage?
This whole case of sketchbooks...
I'm giving to this guy
for a house in France.
I had a lot of drawings here.
What do I get out of this?
- What drawings?
- Several. I drew that!
- No, Aline drew those.
- You sure?
- I drew that.
- No, Aline drew those.
That's Aline when I first knew her.
You went from this page,
where I was on it...
and like two pages later, it's Aline?
- How did that happen?
- It was a crazy period.
That's disgusting.
- That's horrible.
- That's you and that's Aline.
Oh, Jesus.
You really hated women then.
Do you think it's improved since?
Yeah. I hate them
a little bit less now.
Guys like me, I like certain kinds
of women's legs.
- I'm not masochistic.
- But you don't like feet!
- You're not heavily into feet.
- I'm not fixated, but I can get into it.
I can have an orgasm playing
with someone's foot.
It's not a real narrow fixation.
It's that the way the mind of the person
whos interested in legs and feet...
is very different from the mind of
the person who's interested in breasts.
Breast men tend to be aggressive,
outgoing, athletic.
- People who like the lower body...
- She's got these types categorized.
People who like the lower body
tend to be frightened, introverted.
It all has to do with being down on the
floor when you were a scared child...
and looking up at
that big tower of Mommy.
What's down there? The feet and legs.
That's where the security is.
Women go around feeling victimized
by men all the time.
They feel like the men
have the power...
and the area where women can take
the power from men is through sex.
Men have that fetishistic twist to their
minds because they have that ability...
to concentrate on one thing
to the exclusion of all else...
and can really be manipulated sexually,
where women are not as susceptible.
You are so frightening. Jesus!
Women are susceptible to power.
That's what I find.
Any display of power and,
Oh, he's so interesting!
Who's that man who's being so obnoxious
and arrogant? He's so interesting.
I'm a career pornographer.
I've been at it for 16 years.
It was what I was always destined for.
I always loved pornography.
I took my birthday money
when I turned 18 because I was legal...
and went to the adult bookstore
and bought pornography.
I went through some other jobs,
but always sexualized them...
so finding pornography
was just right.
I'm the editor of Jugs, Leg Show
and Bust Out right now.
I was also the creator
of Big Butt magazine.
We've arranged with Robert
to do a photo shoot today...
which will appear
in Leg Show magazine.
Were going to have four or five women
who we think Robert will like...
but there's never any telling
with Robert Crumb.
Here's a girl I wish I could've gotten
for the Crumb shoot.
This is a mother-daughter
dominance team from L.A.
Mother taught me to smother,
is this girl's motto.
We're doing this
for the Christmas issue.
The mother's wearing a red outfit.
We wanted them to do something festive.
He's a person that would rather be a
brain in a jar that a person in a body.
Basically, we both focus
on my body sexually.
Robert's not too oriented
towards normal sex.
There wasn't much in the way
of normal sex in our relationship...
but lots of piggyback rides
and wrestling around.
He liked to sit on my shoe a lot.
He never takes his shirt off.
He likes to not exist.
Robert is an admitted
compulsive masturbator.
He masturbates four or five times a day.
He told me he masturbates
to his own comics.
I'm sure Picasso did.
I think probably, yeah, some do.
But I don't think many artists...
give you such a wide range
of masturbatory possibility as Crumb.
That is, if you like
what he likes.
Does he do that?
Robert doesn't exaggerate anything
in his comics.
The woman are exactly the way
he wants them...
and he accurately portrays himself...
as the skinny, bad posture,
myopic man he is.
Some people wonder if he doesnt
exaggerate the size of his penis...
which appears awfully big in the comics.
Robert does not exaggerate anything.
He is endowed with one
of the biggest penises in the world.
Why do I have my particular
sexual proclivities?
I don't know.
Ask a psychiatrist.
I don't know what it's about.
I always thought Robert
was just kidding about them.
You thought I was kidding?
That he was trying to be funny.
Yeah, that's right.
I couldn't imagine how anyone
could be serious about these things.
It was complete chaos,
this relationship.
The crying and fighting
started soon, actually.
You cried the third time
I'd been with you.
What's so horrible about crying?
Why is that painful to you?
Oh, my God! How can I deal with it?
What should I do? She's crying.
So you're saying that 20 years later
you still have no idea...
what you were doing
that could've contributed to that?
No, I guess I don't.
It was confusing because
he was totally irresponsible.
He would call and say, I love you,
miss you, can't wait to see you.
He was supposed to be 200 miles away.
He'd say, I'll see you
in a week or two.
I'd go out to buy groceries two hours
later and see him with another woman.
Then he'd wonder why I kicked him
or got mad.
Do you think I'm sadistic?
He would always act
like he was passively a victim.
I used to call it his
Ashley Wilkes routine...
that he would pull...
where he was just this
passive victim of circumstance...
in other people's desires.
When really he was just trying
to get away with whatever he could...
and walking all over people.
I walked all over people?
Like who? You?
You think you were a good guy,
a nice boyfriend to me at the time.
I think I'm not a very romantic person,
that's all.
I don't think I've ever actually
been in love.
I have many letters where you said
I love you hundreds of times.
I was abusing the word.
I had this overpowering...
I'm leaving.
I was very fond of you. Ouch!
I was fond of you...
and had this overpowering lust for you
that you could possibly imagine.
But I wouldn't say I was in love.
I just don't have it in me.
- I've never been in love or jealous.
- That's horrible.
The only woman I've ever been in love
with is Sophie, my darling daughter.
You made me mess up.
I did books in the '70s
that were self-deprecating.
My self-hatred was really intense then.
Did you ever see this one?
Twisted Sisters.
Nice cover.
I show myself on the toilet.
It got no recognition.
Nobody bought it.
I asked the publisher how it was doing.
He said he was using it for insulation
in the walls of his barn.
What is the gist of your comics?
What are they like?
About me.
My sex life, my phobias...
what a disgusting human being
I think I am.
Your mother's featured in it
a lot, too.
It's the way I can tolerate my mother,
is by drawing...
really hideous drawings of her.
Like this, for example.
After Sophie was born,
my mother visited me.
She was so irritating and so unhelpful.
It talks about how she couldn't hold the
baby 'cause she'd had her nails wrapped.
My mother yells in the restaurant,
Got any Sweet N' Low, dear?
A quiet fern-bar restaurant
in San Francisco...
and every person
turned around to look.
She came to the airport in an Afro,
dressed up in this trendy outfit.
Robert and I looked like immigrants
just off the boat.
- Is your father on the bottom there?
- That's my mother's husband.
She had him dressed in a leisure suit.
When she first met him,
he wore baggy brown suits...
he had short hair and he was fat.
She put him on a diet,
and put him in safari outfits...
and made him grow sideburns.
But he was still shlubby.
He had shlubby posture.
But he was trendily dressed.
Kind of follows along after her
like that.
- What does she think about your comics?
- She doesn't see them.
- She's not interested.
- She doesn't know you're a cartoonist?
Unconsciously she must know there's
things she doesn't want to know about.
And she doesn't take in very much
about anybody anyway.
She's not too interested.
She saw this painting and a bunch
of other paintings, and she said...
Those are nice. Who did them?
I said, I did.
She said, I didn't know you painted.
I mean, she sent me to art school!
You just change the subject.
What are we having for dinner?
One thing you've learned is
the importance of black. That's good.
Thanks, Pop.
Okay, enough.
Why did you choose this figure
in particular?
I like these photos.
They're powerful for some reason.
This one was easy to draw.
Finally picked attractive ones.
Some of them are ugly, you know.
- She's a mess.
- Yeah, she is.
The text talks about her being
an alcoholic reprobate.
They picked her up off the street.
This one. Oh, God!
Looks like a monster.
In my drawing of her,
I made her cuter than she really is...
because I acquired the cuteness curse
when I worked at American Greetings...
which I can't shake.
You got the tilt of her head right.
That's hard to do.
You have to really...
The proportions of this to this.
Is it the same or shorter?
I did a lot of erasing at first.
You haven't learned how to cheat yet
to get the desired effect you want.
Like what? Draw over the top of a Xerox?
You want to capture a certain thing
about this woman's face.
- A certain defiance you see in there.
- Yeah, I didn't get it.
Exaggerate those little things
that give her that look.
Like the way her teeth slightly show.
She's got a slight sneer.
I try to do that,
but it's hard with pencil.
Just exaggerate, cheat a little.
Like the tilt of the head...
and the sneer, you would emphasize that.
You have to consciously
make a decision...
of what you want to bring out
in the face.
I did that here,
but it still didn't work out.
It's very subtle in that photo.
It's very subtle.
My drawing doesn't capture the hate.
It does in a way. You've got that
open mouth. That's the key to the thing.
- That sneer, you know?
- Baring the teeth.
Yeah. That's key.
They obviously ordered her to sit down
and don't move.
They're going to take her picture,
and just sit there.
You can see she doesn't like it.
It'd be good if you could take
life drawing.
You didn't go to art school,
and look, you're rich and famous.
We're not talking about rich and famous.
Were talking about learning to draw.
A lot of my recent works
appear in this Weirdo magazine.
These are the kind of guys who read my
work. It's an ode to the weirdo reader.
The hurt, sensitive guy who doesn't
fit in with the normal people.
Like these people.
She's saying, I always hated
the Three Stooges.
Of course, he loves the Three Stooges.
This is my source material.
I couldn't find pictures in magazines
of ordinary, modern...
street scenes in America.
So I persuaded this guy in Sacramento
to spend a day with me driving around...
'cause I don't drive
and couldn't do it myself.
Just to take snapshots of ordinary
street corners in modern America.
This has been indispensable to me.
You can't remember these things, to draw
these modern light poles and crap.
All this junk
on every suburban street.
I've used it in a lot of places.
It's background here.
Stuff like that.
In my story here, I used it also.
This whole background, this stuff,
I put it over here.
You can't make up this crap.
It's too complicated.
On this cover I used a bunch of photos
to take that stuff.
In the real world, this stuff is not
created to be visually pleasing.
It's just accumulation
of the modern industrial world.
People don't even notice.
They block it out.
Robert and Sophie, dinner's ready.
Hurry up.
Go sit down. Get out of here.
- Who, me?
- No, her.
She's helping me.
Now she's break-dancing.
Get out of here.
Come over here and get your plate.
How's that?
I'll trade you the gum for the plate.
Gotta have my starch and my fat.
Look at all this food.
It's fun to eat supper with your family.
Especially where there is good food
on the table.
At least you could manage
to be on time.
Your mother goes to all the trouble
to prepare a fine meal.
- It's only common courtesy, Chuck.
- I know.
But I couldn't help it.
I was late home from school.
Once I reached adolescence, it was
the late '50s. Everybody I knew...
their families had nothing to do
with the advertisement for itself...
that the culture was presenting
on the TV screen.
- Why not?
- Do I have to have a reason?
- All your friends will be there.
- I don't care.
Chuck! Don't talk
with your mouth full.
Chew your food well.
Chew and chew.
Doesn't it taste extra good that way?
The whole thing is a big false front...
that was suffocating,
and so dreary and depressing.
They grew up in the depression.
I understand. They went through the war.
They wanted this thing that was
so tight, unthreatening and flat.
They wanted a dull lifestyle.
They wanted Perry Como.
They wanted this Ozzie and Harriet shell
we grew up in. The whole thing had...
this creepy, nightmarish,
grotesque quality.
This is the first issue of Zap Comix
that I did in late 1967.
It was the beginning of all this
underground comic nonsense.
It was all very LSD inspired.
A lot of these are things
I redrew from sketchbooks.
This Whiteman character.
A lot of this stuff...
I didn't realize when I was doing it
what it was about or connected to.
I realized afterwards,
this is really about my father.
This rigid...
gung-ho American kind of guy.
A typical World War II generation man.
When my father died in '82, my aunt
gave me stuff my father had sent her.
One of the things was this book
he wrote, Training People Effectively.
I'm not sure what he did for a living
in the last years of his life.
It had something to do with
employee motivation for a corporation.
Here's a photo.
I was reading about this syndrome in
Japan that Japanese businessmen have.
Something about some smiling disease...
where they have a fixed smile
on their face all the time.
I think my father had that.
The article said it was a sign
of deep depression.
He didn't smile when he was home.
The smile dropped
as soon as he came home.
He was a grim guy.
He fought in the war and everything.
He had a hard-ass attitude about life...
and thought my mother was mollycoddling
all of us, which she was.
All three of his sons ended up being
wimpy, nerdy weirdos.
It broke his heart, I think.
He wanted one of us to become a Marine.
My father was hotheaded.
He'd just blow his stack.
He'd lash out and hit you real hard.
When I was five years old, on
Christmas this whole thing happened...
where he blew his stack at me
and busted my collarbone.
- When you were five?
- Yeah.
Charles had a penchant
for getting in trouble.
He was diabolical as a kid.
And my father would beat him
for these things he was doing,
crimes he was committing.
It just made him worse.
I had this subconscious desire
to be punished.
- Why?
- It had something to do with my father.
It had something to do with
being brought up by a sadistic bully.
There's some connection there
between the two of them...
although I'm not really sure what it is.
What was your mom like
when you were a kid?
She was an amphetamine addict. The
amphetamines would make her act crazy...
and do and say really crazy things.
It had an absolutely devastating effect,
I think, on all five of us kids.
Do you?
It had a devastating effect on me,
How did your parents get along?
They got along well up until the time
I was 9 or 10 years old.
But after Beatie started taking
amphetamines to keep her weight down...
they had a terrible time.
They were screaming and yelling
at each other all the time...
morning, noon and night.
- She'd scratch at the old man's face.
- Till it looked like ground hamburger.
He would put makeup on
when he went to work...
in an attempt to cover up
the scratches on his face.
The old man came to me
and said...
lf you don't go out and get a job,
III make your life a hell on earth.
That's exactly what he started to do,
to make my life a hell on earth.
So to get him off my back, I took a job
as a telephone solicitor...
for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
I stuck it out for a year...
because I was afraid of what
he would do to me if I didn't.
That's the last time you held a job,
though, right?
And it only lasted for a year.
That was back in '69.
The old man was always trying
to make productive citizens out of us.
When I was a teenager, he forced me
to use my drawing talent...
to draw pictures of houses, then ask
the people if they wanted to buy them.
- That was the old man's idea, wasn't it?
- Completely his idea. He made me do it.
It was a hateful job.
When I first got well-known,
he was proud of me.
He heard I was getting well-known
for my work, but he never saw it.
I don't think he would've approved.
He would've disapproved of it
on so-called moral grounds.
Somebody told me that someone at work
showed him one of my comics...
and that's when
he stopped talking to me.
He wouldn't speak to me after he saw
the stuff I was doing in the early '70s.
The story I had most trouble with
is this one.
I got two pages into it and thought...
This is too negative, too twisted,
too upsetting. Ive gotta stop this.
I quit working on it.
I threw the page in the garbage can.
At some point, Aline came
into my studio for something...
and I decided, I'll show her this
and see what she thinks about it.
So I pulled it out of the garbage can.
I said, What do you think about this?
I threw it away.
I didn't want to continue it.
It's too weird, too disturbing.
She read it and said,
You have to finish this.
You've got to see this through.
I said, She's a woman. She said I have
to do it, so I'll do it.
So Flakey Foont answers the door and
there's a girl's body standing there.
But what you see is Mr. Natural's head
and beard where her head should be.
That's how it starts.
Flakey Foont is confused by that.
And Mr. Natural comes galloping in...
riding the girl around the room.
Her body's very frisky,
and you don't see her head at all.
You just see Mr. Natural's beard
where her head should be.
Then she lands in a split.
And Mr. Natural starts talking about
what an amazing body this woman has.
But the head was always a problem...
'cause she had
such an obnoxious personality.
Flakey Foont is shocked and horrified
when he sees she doesn't have a head.
Mr. Natural explains, She was
obnoxious, so I got rid of the head.
You wanted her, lusted after her.
Now you can have her
because her head's missing.
Then he explains
how he took the head off...
and topped the neck with a cap.
Then Mr. Natural says he discovered...
that she had a second,
smaller brain in her butt...
and that is what's
making the body function.
Then he gives Foont directions on how
to feed her. You take the cap off...
and put this funnel down her neck.
Mr. Natural pulls out
this mannequin head and says...
lf you take her outside,
you've got to put this head on her...
so people aren't shocked and horrified
by a headless girl walking around.
Mr. Natural leaves and says, Don't say
I never did anything for you.
He gives the girl to Foont,
and Foont's getting excited.
He's got this wondrous body all
to himself to do with whatever he wants.
He says, I like it better with just
the cap. He knocks the fake head off.
He's leading her to the wall...
and she accidentally steps on
the fake head and smashes it.
He pushes her against the wall,
pulls her clothes off...
and he's admiring her firm butt.
This is the part where I get excited
when I'm working on it.
I enjoy drawing the female form.
I make a lot of fuss to make sure
the figure comes out the way I want it.
The males, I don't care what
they look like.
So he starts to fuck her.
He penetrates her from behind,
and he's getting really excited.
At the same time he feels guilty.
While he's in the middle of coming...
he imagines her severed head...
and then her face condemning him.
She says, You little shit!
Cut to Mr. Natural.
He's home, phone's ringing.
I got home an hour ago.
Yeah, it's Foont. He's feeling guilty.
Foont wants to bring her back.
He can't handle it.
Mr. Natural says,
Okay, bring her over.
Make sure you put the head back on
before you take her outside.
He realizes the head's been smashed.
He doesn't know what to do.
Actually, a lot of these poses
in these panels...
I took from freeze-framing
the Fly Girls on In Living Color.
He ties up a shirt into a ball
and puts it on top of the cap.
Then he puts a hat on.
He pushes her in the car.
We cut to Mr. Natural's house.
Mr. Natural's saying he's going
to regret it if he doesn't keep her.
Mr. Natural says, Forget it.
We'll put the head back.
Mr. Natural unscrews the clamp,
pulls the pipe out of her.
He reaches in.
This is probably the most sickening,
disturbing panel in the story.
Aline says it's the most disturbing part
of the whole thing.
He's pulling hard, and he pulls
her head back out by her tongue.
Her head was actually inside her body
all the time.
Foont is very shocked,
then relieved that her head is back.
Mr. Natural says, Old African
witch doctor stuff. Nothing special.
And she says, That was so weird!
Mr. Natural says, Yep.
Then they both realize the head's back,
the trouble's back.
She says what happened to her
and what did Mr. Natural do to her...
and where does he get his crazy ideas?
At this point, Foont feels guilty and
starts apologizing to the devil girl...
for having done the deed to her
when she didn't have her head.
She says, What are you saying? '
She realizes that Mr. Natural handed her
over to Foont for him to play with.
She says, You gave me to that shmuck to
play with as if I were a piece of meat.
He says, What the hell's
the difference? '
He tries to get away
and she's chasing him.
In the end, she's raging with anger
and she says...
Where's a butcher knife? I'm going
to cut both your heads off!
Typical comic book ending.
I see a theme...
running through his work
that is very frightening.
And it's the woman with her head
either cut off or somehow distorted...
something done to it so that
nothing is left but the body.
And the body, of course,
you can have sex with.
When Crumb draws that little monster,
Mr. Natural...
doing things you or I would not normally
think of doing with a headless woman...
it is not intended, I imagine,
to be apologia for beheading...
or an apologia for rape.
But it is an acknowledgement
that these kinds of fantasy...
actually do dwell in homo sapiens,
they're there.
I'm saying that
it's very irresponsible to put...
dangerous sexual fantasies
on paper...
and make them available to the public.
It's important for women to not just run
in horror from pornographic images...
and immediately think
they represent oppression...
and the power of men
to degrade women.
And to think, sometimes,
about the fact that they often are...
They're fantasies of having power.
They're fantasies
of being able to dominate...
that come out of a fear
of precisely the opposite.
Fear of not being able
to be attractive to women.
Impotence fears.
And fears of powerlessness
in general.
How do you feel about the way
he depicts women in his comics?
He depicts his id in its pure form.
The dark side of human nature
is in every person.
That's what I was drawn to
in his work.
That he could illustrate that
really clearly.
It's unusual to see it.
I think it's always there.
Does any of that bother you?
He's not like that in other ways
as a person.
He gets it out in his artwork.
He fools around with other women.
How do you deal with that?
I fool around with other men.
I have hostilities toward women.
I admit it.
It's out in the open.
I have to put it out there.
Sometimes I think it's a mistake.
I should never have let it out.
I'd be more well-Ioved.
The whole thing would be easier
and cleaner if I didn't let it out.
But it's in there,
and it's very strong.
And it ruthlessly...
forces itself out of me
onto the paper...
for better or worse.
When I was 9 or 10,
my brother collected Zap Comix.
When I saw those,
they really deeply, deeply...
terrified me.
I was deeply upset.
I looked at them and thought...
This is adulthood?
This is what adult women are?
This is what I grew up into? '
It was horrifying.
I wonder if you think about the effect
on people who read it...
or what you're validating for boys.
I just hope that somehow...
revealing that truth about myself
is somehow helpful.
I hope it is. But I have to do it.
Maybe I shouldn't be allowed.
Maybe I should be locked up
and my pencils taken away from me.
I just don't know.
I really can't say.
I can't defend myself.
I was with my daughter Sophie watching
Goodfellows on videotape.
The violent part horrified her so deeply
she started getting a stomach ache.
I shut it off,
wouldn't let her watch it.
I think it's a great movie, truthful
movie. I got a lot out of seeing it.
It's obviously not for a kid.
Sometimes certain
harsh realities of life...
You've got to protect your kids
a little bit from that.
They don't understand
a lot of things yet.
Not everything's for children.
Not everything's for everybody.
Have you gotten criticism about the way
you draw black people?
Oh, yeah, but it all came
from white liberals.
Here's an example of the kind of thing
I'm talking about in Ooga Booga.
It's actually a mockery of black people.
It's a vomiting up
of Crumb's own racism...
his own deepest
hostilities and fears.
If you have a knee-jerk reaction,
and that's as far as you get...
then you say he's a racist.
But once you think about
how he's toying with that...
how he's shoving it in your face...
you start to think
about your attitudes...
and how the stereotypes came about,
and it gets complicated.
All that stuff I did in the late '60s...
I didn't really know what it was about
when I did it.
It was very instinctive.
Somehow LSD liberated me in this way...
that allowed me to put it down
and not worry about what it meant.
I had a vague idea
that it meant something...
but it was later that I'd look at it,
analyze it and see what it's about.
Somehow the term nigger hearts
just came into my mind...
as a product.
It's like it's some black,
deep thing...
in American collective mind
or something...
that has to do with turning
everything over for a buck.
I'm not sure exactly,
but it's some message like that.
Quite a number of people
these days would like...
this nice, milky vision of culture
in which it's all improving...
and leads us all to this nice little
pie-in-the-sky moral heaven...
where nobody's nasty to anybody else.
But the only thing is that
literature, culture, art...
isn't put there to have
that pleasant, normative effect.
Conservatives like to think great
works of art lead us towards democracy.
There were speeches in Shakespeare that
were so full of hatred for the mob...
they're passionately elitist,
passionately antidemocratic.
What do you with someone like Celine,
a Nazi sympathizer yet a great novelist?
What do you do with practically anybody
who's got a vision of the world...
not in accord with
the present standards at Berkeley?
They're all wearing Raiders
and 49ers jackets.
Sophie wants us to get her
a 49ers jacket.
Why do you want to live
in the midst of it?
Like Hamlet,
I'm too scared to kill myself.
You gonna move to the south of France?
You gonna miss all this?
I'II be out of here
in a couple more months.
I can't live in it.
I can't take it.
They can't wait to have the money
to get their hands on this stuff.
They live for it.
It's a beautiful world.
You gonna finish this one soon?
It depends on when I have a chance
to pick up an oil brush again.
You worked on this recently, right?
Did you do something to this recently?
When was the last time I painted?
I was working on that thing of Dian...
that portrait of that New York floozie
you were running with.
- This one?
- This is a portrait number.
You put things together
and watch the paint do stuff.
How come you put that
metallic-Iooking brassiere on her?
Her personality was like that.
She had a hard, armored personality.
She was a broad underneath it.
She would find that thing you put on her
really disturbing.
It just reflects the personality,
an icy, crazed expression in the eyes.
But there's a warmth and reluctance
in the smile.
- You know what I mean?
- Interesting.
- She's in therapy now.
- She is?
She doesn't need therapy.
She fucks too hard.
How do you cure that except by death?
You start from a blob. When you do
ink work, you start from a line.
Being fixated with...
Like that one. This is also an example
of being fixated with line.
I started getting into very detailed...
You can see a very distinct line thing
in the character of it.
You're pleased with this
when you look at it now?
I like the style a lot.
This is Van Gogh shooting himself.
- In a cornfield.
- What's the corn about?
It's like that Walt Whitman line:
Quintillions ripen
and the quintillions green.
He was out picking fruit,
a transient picker.
He came to this realization:
the abundance of the farm thing.
The abundance of plant growth.
He wrote this line: Quintillions ripen
and the quintillions green.
- The same thing with corn.
- A stylized Van Gogh painting.
Corn has infinite ability,
like primal nature.
- What's with Van Gogh shooting himself?
- His mind went to this place.
There's this infinite abundance,
like in an ear of corn.
This is the first oil painting
you ever did, isn't it?
It's the first oil I ever did. Yeah.
You never drew before,
and it suddenly just came out of you.
It's like something was released
inside of you.
When I had that first epileptic fit
in sixth grade...
I was drawing a picture of my face
with charcoal in art class.
I said, Hey, you can draw.
It started working out.
It was the first time I had
this artistic experience.
It was so violent to me
that I had a fucking seizure.
I ended up in the hospital
the next day.
This is probably one of the last
comic covers Charles ever did.
It might be the very last one.
His psychotic bunny rabbits.
In our late teens,
I persuaded Charles...
that we should send away for
The Famous Artists Talent Test.
They had ads in magazines.
We each sent away for this test.
I did mine legitimately,
the way you were supposed to.
But Charles couldn't help himself.
You were supposed to complete the figure
by drawing a costume on it.
But he put pasties on her tits...
and started drawing weird,
psychotic characters in the background.
Psychotic Mickey Mouse.
They had an outline
of this barn and tree.
You were supposed to draw in textures
on surfaces.
They gave suggestions on
how to fill in the textures.
That's his interpretation of that.
Here was your ability
to arrange elements in a picture.
They give you objects.
You're supposed to make an arrangement.
So he did this and this.
Your imagination as an illustrator.
Complete this picture by adding...
whatever other figure or objects
you think are necessary.
So he drew this girl here.
A week after this came in the mail,
a salesman showed up to grade our tests.
If you got a good grade,
you got the privilege...
of paying $400 to take the course.
He looked at Charles...
at what he had done,
and he was speechless.
He didn't know what to say.
He told me mine was good, I had a lot of
potential and I should take the course.
But Charles,
he wouldn't even speak to him.
He was pretty far gone
at that point already.
This is some of his later work...
sort of the end of his comic period.
About 1961. He's about 18.
He started developing this weird
wrinkle technique in his drawing...
and it became stranger and stranger.
Had nothing to do
with the outside world at all.
Became more and more ingrown
in this way.
It had to do with his increasing
alienation from the world. Isolation.
He never went to pen and ink.
He never got beyond pencil and crayons.
This is some of the last
Treasure Island stuff he did.
This is late '61.
It's beautifully drawn except
the wrinkle stuff gets out of hand.
He got more and more obsessed
with that.
It gets real dark-looking.
He had this fascination
with the relationship...
between the kid and Long John Silver,
the pirate character...
which he elaborated on endlessly.
This is one of our two-mans. You can see
he gradually added more and more text.
The writing takes over.
Look at that.
He lost interest in drawing...
and then he went
to this loony writing.
There's a certain phase of Charles' life
that had this compulsive graphomania.
He did dozens of these notebooks.
He gave me a bunch of them.
People found them fascinating.
This is upside down,
though it doesn't make any difference.
I don't know if it's upside down
or right side up.
When he first started out,
it was readable...
and then it became
less and less readable.
What I definitely need is some kind
of external stimulation...
to rejuvenate me
and get me going again.
But I don't know how I'm going
to be able to arrange this eventually.
I don't know.
I'll have to start doing that
in a mental hospital.
I remember this time we were
at Neal's house and Mary was there.
Mary said, I'm bored. I'm gonna take
a bath. She went in the bathroom and...
I told her not to do it.
Maxon's eyes glazed over
and he got kind of red.
He got up as if he was in a trance
and he went up to the bathroom.
I said, What are you doing?
He pushed the bathroom door open.
Mary was standing there naked
and she screamed.
She slammed the door.
I said, Maxon, come away. I tried
to pull him away from the door.
He was completely in a trance.
He pushed the door open again.
Mary yelled again.
Then Maxon fell on the floor...
had an 8-minute seizure.
What's with these Oriental women
you were into in this phase?
- You were attracted to Oriental women.
- I was when I first started doing this.
When you were in that phase.
The phase of molesting women
and getting in trouble with cops.
- Were you actually raping these women?
- No. I didn't get that much into it.
He'd goose them and run away.
You've got to do a lot of molesting
to get to rape.
If you do a couple years of molesting,
you'II get to rape.
I started molesting when I was 18.
I started with Chinese women for some
crazy reason on subways in Philadelphia.
I went through different periods of it.
But I'm out of it.
It's too much passion, too much animal.
Didn't they put you in some kind
of psycho ward for a few weeks?
Two weeks on Haldol will cure anything.
You'll do anything they tell you
after two weeks on Haldol.
For a sensible person
it's just terrible.
You get heavy into molesting.
It's a violent crime thing.
I get to the point where I start
pulling girls' shorts down.
I'm walking around this district
by the Marina, a shopping district.
This beautiful Jewish-looking girl...
with obscenely brief shorts on...
goes into this drugstore.
I'm in a fit. I gotta do this
to this broad. She's just too much.
I've gotta risk my whole life
just to do something to this broad.
So I go in,
cold sweat all over the place.
She doesn't notice. She's casually
looking over some shampoo.
I'm trying not to be obtrusive.
She goes up to the counter. It's like
this complete, personal struggle...
about this moment
I gotta pull this risky trip.
I walk up behind her while
she's paying for the shampoo.
I grab the bottom of her shorts
and go...
They go all the way down, and her ass
pops out like a ripe peach.
Jesus Christ! she says.
There's someone there. '
Maybe 15 or 20 years from now
I'll be more willing to talk about it.
But not now.
I've still got too many scruples.
- Did you tell Maxon about them?
- He thinks you're putting it on.
Charles confessed to me
when we were adults that...
when we were teenagers, he had to stifle
the urge to stick a knife in my heart.
He'd be lying in bed, fighting the urge
to go to the kitchen for the knife.
I wanted to go to the basement,
get an ax and bash your skull in.
I told Maxon.
He didn't believe it.
He thought it was all part of the act.
- He thinks the whole thing's an act.
- He thinks my mental sickness is an act.
He thinks you have a cushy position
in things...
because you got the mother's love
and he didn't.
That's what he thinks.
He must think I have reasons
for putting on this act.
What does he think
those reasons are?
I don't think he thinks it out
too deeply. He's just reacting.
He still has anger and resentment
because he wasn't loved by the mother.
I know what the homicidal tendencies
stem from now.
It stemmed from an excessive degree
of narcissism.
It seems all I have to do is overcome
the excessive degree of narcissism...
and my homicidal tendencies
will go away.
- You still have these tendencies?
- No, they're pretty well gone.
Think it's drugs?
What's the connection between
narcissism and homicidal tendencies?
When narcissism is wounded...
it wants to strike back
at the person who wounded it.
- Did I wound your narcissism?
- Many, many times.
Many, many times.
I'm at the point in meditation
where I have to use a bed of nails.
I'm not a great expert at the nails,
so I cover a portion of the nails...
with this thin bandana
so it's not too painful to me.
I have to regulate the amount of pain
that I take with it.
- How long can you sit on those?
- I can sit a couple hours.
This is quite easy.
The cloth cleans your intestines out
on the inside.
You might say it gratifies
your intestines.
Every six weeks, regularly, I have
to pass it through my entire body.
And it takes three days
for it to come out the other side.
You don't take the nails
on the street, right?
They're prejudiced against people,
like in the financial district...
against someone praying in the street.
You go out with your beggar bowl
about every day.
I do it every day, once a day.
It's part of my whole thing.
I have to go out and meet the public.
Put the bowl down, lock in and do it.
It's a dirty job.
- How long has he had this bed of nails?
- A couple years.
He sits on it about
three or four times a day?
- About once a day for a couple hours.
- Does he sleep on it?
No. It's not big enough to sleep on.
He just sits on it.
- Where did he get it? Did he buy it?
- You can't buy a bed of nails.
Just a minute. What is it? What?
Not too badly.
Remember, Mother, I'm under
the influence of medication.
That's helping me through this thing
to a certain extent, anyway.
- When did you start taking medication?
- About 20 years ago.
If only it would do something
about the inner anguish and pain.
You started taking it
after you attempted suicide?
I started taking it
after one of my suicide attempts.
- You drank furniture polish.
- That was the first time.
I drank a bottle of furniture polish
and took an overdose of sleeping pills.
I chickened out at the last minute,
and went downstairs...
and asked Mother to take me to
the hospital to have my stomach pumped.
There were two or three other attempts
besides that one.
This morning you were talking
about getting a lobotomy.
- Why not?
- Why not?
God, it's grim.
Charles confessed to me that when he
first saw Treasure Island in 1950...
he developed this crush on
Bobby Driscoll, and it never went away.
Bobby Driscoll's the kid
who plays Jim Hawkins.
The root of this whole obsession
was this kid that was in the movie.
He was drawing Bobby Driscoll,
this kid, endlessly.
When he told me this, I was shocked.
I had no idea that's what it was about.
I guess it's caused him
a lot of torment in his life.
He's never been able to have
any real sexual life at all.
He's never had sex.
I don't think any of them
got out, Mother.
When she yelled, Get the hell out of
here! I said, Who's she talking to?
And I said, She's being pursued
by invisible enemies.
Who does she think they are?
I don't know exactly.
It's hard to tell.
Fix that curtain in the hallway.
The curtain in the hallway?
Come here. Come here.
Let me see that, please.
Let me show you the painter.
I did that one and that one.
- That one's good.
- Let me show you what one it is.
This is my character.
That's your character?
- What are biscuit teeth?
- Her dog!
- Biscuit Teeth.
- That's her dog?
Leave it the way it is.
Gimme a break.
Isn't that better? Look.
Much better.
Everything has to be black and white.
Everything has to be old-fashioned.
It just looks better like that.
The old man, I think, took off
pretty much for good...
when I was probably
five or six years old I guess.
I can't remember
that period of time very well.
But I didn't see him
too regularly after that.
He was over here for the most part:
Madison, Dixon.
Kind of gone most of the time.
I think he has sort of
a hard time emotionally.
Sometimes I'll feel like I want
to express affection to the old man.
I feel like I want to put my arm
around him or shake his hand...
or get close in some way.
He can't do it.
- How tight?
- Pretty tight.
What a disaster this is,
taking these records out.
I was planning to live here
until I died!
I didn't want to move out of this place,
and move all these damn records.
That'll teach you to have a hobby.
Be careful with those.
You break them, I'll kill you.
My copy of Frank Bunch
and His Fuzzy Wuzzies.
Put those there on that futon.
Tight as you can.
Pull it out and I'll cut it.
Jesus, that wife of mine.
Having me move to France,
for God's sake.
It's too late now.
The die is cast.
A lot of stuff is in here
and some of it's in there.
Pulling up to here would be
the best thing. I don't know.
We'll have to look.
We have plywood we can put down.
She's having a ball out there,
telling those guys what to do.
God, giant trucks are here,
You think those guys are going to be
sensitive to my record collection?
Bunch of football jocks.
Whaddya got here? A bunch
of old albums or somethin'?
Is there anything you're going to miss
about this country?
A certain relaxed quality that people
have here that Europeans don't have.
They're more formal.
America's a big slobville?
I went to get my friends belongings
in Eureka.
It was at these people's house.
I went into their living room.
They had this chair that was
a gold plastic football helmet...
with a red and blue padded seat.
They had double-wide couches and
a four-foot TV screen with Nintendo.
A Ninja Turtle game was on.
A giant, fat teenager
was sitting there, mesmerized.
You don't see
too much of that in France.
How do you feel
about leaving your family here?
I don't have any feelings about it
one way or the other.
What do I care?
Never see that mother or brother anyway.
Talks to them like once a year.
What about Jesse?
He's devastated that we're leaving.
On the other hand, we told him
he could come and stay with us there.
He's thrilled about that.
We gave him $500 for plane fare...
so he's going to come.
- How about Max?
- Max I feel bad about.
He doesn't have too many other people
to talk to.
I'm probably his closest
human relationship in the world.
These are all records?
Those 78s you were talking about?
So I've got no patience
for Hollywood bullshit.
I can't think in those terms.
I've already got so much of my life
wasted with those people down there.
Animation? Forget it. No.
I'm not interested in it at all.
There hasn't been a decent animated film
made in this country since 1940.
Cheery Pop Tart is an abomination.
Larry Wells is an idiot.
It's going to be a piece of garbage.
I'm not interested.
All right.
So long.
I was on a conference call with Charles
Webb, a friend of Dan O'Neill's.
They're putting together
the Cherry Pop Tart film.
They got on the phone with
some guy in L.A. who says...
Hey! I'm your kind of guy.
Remember 'Tommy Toilet'? I love it!
They want to make a movie?
The natural film, of course.
It's a go project.
This is how I felt
after that last hell week...
of you filming me here.
How perfectly goddamned delightful
it all is, to be sure.
When I was a kid, if I ever started
showing enthusiasm for anything...
by brother Charles would say...
How perfectly goddamned delightful
it all is, to be sure.
Always take the wind
out of my sails.
Even though I don't see him often,
whenever I'm with him...
it revives that keen awareness
of that...
of being very removed
or extremely separated...
from the rest of humanity
and the world in general.
I kinda like that feeling.
How perfectly goddamned delightful
it all is, to be sure.
Fix it, Charles. Put back the towel
the way I had it.
First put the towel up.
Watch you don't pull the shade
all the way off the thing.
I won't.
Can't come in and disrupt
people's house like this!
Where are the babies?
I don't know. I think
that little girl is in my room.