Only rarely is there discovered a significant body of work by an artist as important as Robert Crumb. The drawings and related artifacts found in the forthcoming exhibition R. Crumb: Early Works, 1965 – 1967 represent a rare opportunity to experience the evolving aesthetic of a prominent American artist. Join us this Saturday, September 10 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery as we unveil this exceptional collection of seminal works by one of history’s most gifted cartoonists. Below is a narrative explaining the origin of this work by Crumb confidant Mimi Currier, who will attend the exhibition opening:
“We first met Robert Crumb in Cleveland, Ohio, in the mid-1960s. I understood at the time that he had recently moved there from Pennsylvania. When we met he was working at the American Greeting Card company. It was early days in the psychedelic revolution; the counterculture was just emerging. The crucible in Cleveland was the University Circle area and Robert fit right in. It was a scene of college kids, artists, musicians and poets. A tall, lanky young artist, wandering around with a sketchbook full of odd frogs and chubby teenybopper women was just the thing.
How we actually met I don’t recall. It was undoubtedly at a party, but the whole period now seems to have been an unending party. My soon-to-be husband shared a row house in the Circle and we may have met there. At any rate, we became friends, and over time I introduced him to my younger sister Alix. She was sort of Rubenesque, his favorite in muses, and they hit it off. I remember Robert always left candy around the homes of women he liked, deliberately trying to fatten them up.
They spent a lot of time together. They would meet behind the church across the street, he drawing endless cartoons for her and the two of them chatting away. I believe their relationship was platonic; they were both somewhat shy, I thought. Alix was only 13 or 14 at the time. During this period I married and later had a baby. Alix became absorbed in Beatlemania, Robert met Dana and he, too, married and had a son, Jesse. These were the days of Fritz the Cat, the Yum Yum Book, and a good deal of marijuana and LSD.
Several of us moved to San Francisco, including the Crumbs. Robert had a flat in the Haight. We had one a few blocks away, and we’d often visit. His was a busy place. Zap #1 was just coming out. I remember a night spent stapling it together, getting it ready for distribution. My only request for payment was that he not forget us when he was rich and famous. The result was in Zap #13. His star was rising. He was doing the Janis Joplin cover, working with Clay Wilson, making music himself, moving in the fast lane.
The Vietnam War was raging, and San Francisco was affected. The clouds darkened. The Summer of Love was past. The flower children were disbursing. We drifted apart. It was time to seek Mother Earth. The Crumbs moved to Potter Valley. We joined a commune and moved to Jerome, Arizona. Alix Phillips, né Gianasi, died in 1975 in Cleveland. Robert and Dana divorced and he met and married Aline. They had a daughter, Sophie, who has also taken up cartooning. We kind of lost touch with Robert. He lives in France now with Aline and their daughter. We heard from him a couple of years ago.”
Mimi Currier, August 2016