The Weirdo Years 1981-'91 by R Crumb

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The Weirdo Years 1981-'91 by R Crumb

Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Suitably scattershot, the loose feel of old Crumb works in one chunk might not be as coherent as some of his other books, but does prove how long-standing and justified the artist's reputation is.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: September 2013
Publisher: Knockabout
ISBN: 9780861662258

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Books are better than magazines – discuss. Certainly for the connoisseur of the contents of culturally important titles from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s it must be a lively debate. I remember my collection of New Worlds editions and how often the editors would take us through a long novel over seven or eight parts, then dump a 'sorry, due to space requirements this last part of what you've cherished for months is abridged – but wait for the novel version soon' on us. Is it better to be a completist, and witness everything the original editors deemed worthy (or just had lying around) or should we cherry-pick and note the best? This hefty hunk of book goes for the latter, anyway, taking R Crumb's output for the Weirdo comic, as edited by R Crumb, then someone else, then Mrs R Crumb, and giving us everything, warts and all.

But you still don't really have an inkling of what the issues originally looked like. The works here collected are in mostly chronological order, although the covers are dumped together in a random gap, and the tiny one-panel cartoons are meshed onto what I assume are new spreads. As a result you are launched through a dazzling array of content with no feel for the original issues – perhaps Crumb and his wife gaining some solo recognition for much work that never earned them much money, if any. Here is a soupcon of Boswell's London diaries next to a wannaba-pervy photostrip about a nebbish bloke getting overpowered by unattainable women. Memories of the druggy 1960s sit next to '80s artwork about over-consumption that has slogans and a punch (pun intended) to match any Victorian cartoon. A selection of nuclear war skits sits alongside a fake ad for breast enhancement supplements.

In a way, however, you assume that yes, this is still very much like the original Weirdo. It's very hit-and-miss, open to anything, and as is typical of Crumb, the laissez-faire attitude and slap-dash devilment is countered by the thoughtfully elaborate linework and clear talent of his character design and humanism. He clearly could draw. But whether he could edit a consummate magazine out of his own work as well as that of others is open to debate from these pages. And does singling his archive of it all out for glory slightly counter the original ethos of highlighting new and aspiring artists?

Still, for a new spin on the tale of a man getting sucked in by TV, a list of sexual case histories – including several of the author's own – and a porpoise watching porn, you don't have many other places to go. I could have done without one recurring set of characters, but I liked the usual things you get from Crumb – blatant autobiography and a willingness to try his hand at illustrating everything, from his fantasies and history to fairy tales, and returning fans will definitely enjoy much that is here.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

File next to Drawn Together by Robert R Crumb and Aline Crumb, which is the couple collaborating throughout the years.

Buy The Weirdo Years 1981-'91 by R Crumb at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Weirdo Years 1981-'91 by R Crumb at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Weirdo Years 1981-'91 by R Crumb at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Weirdo Years 1981-'91 by R Crumb at Amazon.com.


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