23 March 2007

Crumb's treasures

Robert Crumb is well-known among aficionados of the Bay Area comic scene, and, due to the biopic Crumb by Terry Zwigoff, something of a celebrity these days. Many 45 to 60-somethings have indelible Crumb images (like the "Keep On Truckin' " t-shirts that were ubiquitous in the 1970's) in their brains. "Mr. Natural" and Zap Comix are 60's detritus of iconic status. Mr. Crumb's style, in particular his outrageously proportioned females, is so distinctive as to be unmistakable. Less known is Crumb's devotion to American roots music. Working from old photographs, Crumb released a series of portraits in 1980 of pioneering country, jazz and blues artists from the 1920's. These were put out as trading cards and were quickly gobbled up by collectors. Recently reprinted and commerically available, they have, fortunately, been assembled as a book. R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country is published by Abrams of New York and includes an excellent CD with 21 tunes. Signature-bound on heavy paper, the 5 1/2 by 7 inch hardcover is an absolute treasure. The art, both Pantone and watercolor, is rich, warm and lovingly done. The musicians featured have new life breathed into them, and look out at you from the pages with all the confidence and intensity of serious performers. For any fan of the music, R. Crumb, or simply fine art, this book is a must-have. Search for ISBN 0-8109-3086-2 at your favorite bookseller. (I found mine at Edward R. Hamilton!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Robert Crumb! You are, as suspected all along, unremittingly and entertainingly eclectic! My step-son David is a huge fan of Crumb, so I am a fan as well -- which puts us all into a slightly different (admiringly skewed?) category of reader, I suspect. I am very interested in the music contribution -- that is a new one on me. I am sorry now I didn't actually steal that Hamilton catalogue. NOC