Born on 30 August 1943, the son of a Marine Corps father and housewife mother, Robert Crumb and his two older brothers rejected the hyper-masculine US culture surrounding them, immersing themselves in comics, music (old jazz/blues/country) and trash TV.
Young Robert marinated all this in baroque sexual fantasy (girls with robust thighs and a pronounced ass always remained his preference). Add LSD and a shift to Haight-Ashbury to the mix and Crumb, formerly a greeting card designer, developed into a remarkable satirist of the American Dream.
Crumb apparently only agreed to do the cover art if he could squeeze Joplin’s tits. She readily obliged.
His brilliant cover, knocked off in a single night’s sitting (on speed), won Crumb a wide audience for his “head comix”. In fact, he despised rock music and turned down a Rolling Stones cover soon after as he couldn’t stand the noise they made.
Instead, Crumb documented San Francisco hippie culture as it briefly flowered, then crashed and burned.
His ‘Zap Comix #4’ was banned in America and declared obscene by the courts, largely due to Crumb’s satirical strip, Joe Blow, an outrageous send-up of the all-American family. The case went all the way to the US Supreme Court who ruled that obscenity should be determined by the local community.
Crumb was also a musician, playing the banjo with his band The Cheap Suit Serenaders, who released several CDs.
Crumb eventually married one of his own cartoon characters.
When he created the fantasy woman Honeybunch Kominsky, Crumb had yet to meet the New York cartoonist Aline Kominsky, whose friends had nicknamed her ‘Honeybunch’ due to her resemblance to the Crumb character. They married in 1978.
In 1991, the Crumbs moved to a village in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France to escape the oppressive US political climate and raise their daughter, Sophie, in a healthier environment.
In 2009, after four years of work, Crumb produced The Book of Genesis, an unabridged illustrated graphic novel version of the book of Genesis from The Bible.