Bukowski and Crumb



Robert Crumb is a cartoonist known for his controversial illustrations. He is often compared to Will Eisner in his depiction of the human condition. During an LSD filled period of Crumb’s life he came up with several characters including Mr. Natural, Angelfood McSpade, and Mr. Snoid. Crumb was a leading force in the start of underground comics. He began selling his underground comics “Zap #1” and “Zap #0” from his son Jesse’s baby carriage on the street in 1968. Underground comics (or comix) are self-published comic books that have content not approved by the Comics Code Authority. Crumb describes himself as “all over the map in ’69…. I was chasing women all over the place.” In this same year he made the comics “Big Ass” and “Snatch 3.”Crumb’s art style is a strange combination of sexually graphic and oddly cute. His more controversial pieces contain racialized caricatures and hyper-sexualized women. His controversial treatment of sex and drugs makes him the perfect illustrator for the works of Charles Bukowski.

Bukowski is a novelist and poet. The voice of his poetry and novels echoes the illustrating style of Crumb: very straight forward, often times vulgar, and depicting the human condition in intimate detail. The title of one of his better known works, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, seems to sum up his writing style perfectly. Bukowski’s work addresses the daily life experienced by the American poor, much of his work being somewhat autobiographical. He discusses his relationships with women, alcohol, and writing.

Crumb’s art and Bukowski’s writing are a natural fit. In the 80’s they collaborated on several projects. I wish they had been able to collaborate more. It isn’t often that you find an illustrator and author that complement each other as naturally as they do.

The above image is a page from the short story Bring Me Your Love. In this story, the main character is a man whose personality resembles the main character of most Bukowski stories. He goes through life rather aimlessly, killing time by drinking and having sex. His wife is in a mental hospital. This picture is from a scene where he goes to visit her. This image shows how straight forward both Bukowski and Crumb are with their art.