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Crumb Family Comics

Crumb Family Comics - Robert Crumb, Maxon Crumb In my teens, I traveled coast to coast on a Grayhound bus several times because I couldn't scrape together the money to go by plane. San Francisco to Boston, four and a half days straight. People who've never made that kind of trip tend to romanticize it. "It's a great way to see the country!"; "You're going to see the 'real America'", etc. Sure. That's all true, but what those same people don't tell you is that you're confined on that bus with the other passengers for a lot longer than you ever would be on a plane. There also seem to be a lot more weird characters on the bus. I'm not talking about delightful eccentrics who think they're Napolean, but more like people who make you nervous because you're not sure what their story is, or whether you can trust them, or what they're going to to do. I remember one red-faced guy with a ZZ Top-looking beard who freaked me out by telling me that he hoped he could make it to Illinois "before [his:] eyes explode". He kept talking on and on about his exploding eyes, and it wasn't until another day or so that I pieced together that he had bad glaucoma, and was heading back to the Chicago VA (hospital) because he started getting some symptoms he had been warned about. Okay, so maybe it wasn't as crazy as it sounded at first, but still...starting off with the exploding eyes bit would never happen on a plane. I thought it was kind of funny afterwards, but I felt bad laughing about it, since the guy was in kind of bad shape.Then there was the guy who sat down next to me and started telling me (unsolicited) how he was going back to New York (we were in Nevada as he's saying this) to beat the shit out of his brother-in-law for talking smack about him around the old neighborhood. It was kind of interesting to hear about for a little while (anything to pass the time, you know?), but also unnerving, and I have a hard time picturing hanging out with a guy like that on a regular basis. Somebody reading this will no doubt take my comments as some kind of snobbery. Somebody will be offended, but probably nobody who actually spent four days on a bus listening a stranger expound in detail on how he was going to kick his brother-in-law's ass. It's a kind of funny story now, at least that's how people take it, but it's a sad state to be in.R Crumb is a little bit like these bus characters. Not violent, but his comics are disturbed. They're entertaining in a way, but I can't help but feel guilty at being too entertained. The biopic "Crumb" (now about 15 years old) details his miserable childhood, the mental illness in his family, and other demons which inform this art. The storylines are twisted, but sincere, honest, and interesting.Isn't that all art needs to be? Nobody gets a guilt trip from admiring a VanGough, and he committed suicide, so why do Crumb Family Comics feel so exploitive? I think it's because with VanGough, you're standing solemnly in a quiet museum, reflecting on his tragedy and genius.With Crumb, you're laughing with delight and telling your friends "check this out!"Yeah, that's the problem.. these comics are just too damn funny.