A Controversial American cartoonist Robert Crumb is widely considered to be the “father of underground comics.” His work has a distinctive style and satirical tone and often features strongly stereotyped portrayals of minorities and overly sexualized women. He is best known for creating the cartoon characters Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural and Devil Girl.
Cartoonist Robert Crumb was born on August 30, 1943, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Talented and perverse, Crumb first entered the public eye as an underground cartoonist during the late 1960s as the creator of Zap Comix. He created such characters as Fritz the Cat, Angelfood McSpade and Mr. Natural.
One of five children, Crumb had a difficult time growing up. His father, a member of the U.S. marines, was physically and verbally abusive, and his mother had psychological problems. Crumb was closest to his older brother Charles who was fascinated by comics and Walt Disney. The two brothers spent much of their time together creating their own comics.
For years, the Crumb family moved around for his father’s military career. Wherever he went, Robert Crumb had a hard time fitting in. “I was passive, mushy and vague when I was a kid,” Crumb explained in The R. Crumb Handbook. After his father retired from the service in 1956, the Crumb family moved to Delaware. Throughout their childhoods, the Crumb children attended Catholic school. Robert was devoted to his faith until around the age of 16. In high school, he was treated like a social outcast.
In 1962, Crumb moved to Cleveland where he found a job at the American Greetings Corporation. He first worked as a color separator before getting promoted to an illustrator position. According to his website, Crumb’s boss often told him that his drawings were “too grotesque.”
Crumb married Dana Morgan in 1964. By the next June, Crumb started experimenting with the drug LSD, which had a dramatic impact on his art. Some of his most famous characters, including Mr. Natural, The Snoid, Shuman the Human and the Truckin’ guys, surfaced his drawings from this period. Crumb soon started contributing to a number of underground newspapers.
He moved to San Francisco in 1967, which had a growing underground hippie music and art scene. The first issue of Zap Comix came out in 1968—the same year he and his wife welcomed a son named Jesse. Around this time, Crumb created his famous cover art for Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills, which featured several drawings of lead singer Janis Joplin.
Some of Crumb’s work involved social satire. He took on the establishment with such characters as Whiteman, an uptight businessman. Mr. Natural was a so-called mystic who was really a con man. With Fritz the Cat, a character he had invented as a child, Crumb poked fun at bohemian types. The adventures of slick, female-chasing feline appeared in several magazines and comic books and in book form in 1969.
Sex was another important part of his work.