The familiar self-portrait on the front cover of 'The R. Crumb Handbook' offers a warning before you crack the spine:'I'm not here to be polite!'
The R. Crumb Handbook
by R. Crumb and Peter Poplaski
MQ Publications, 436 pp., $25The familiar self-portrait on the front cover of The R. Crumb Handbook offers a warning before you crack the spine: "I'm not here to be polite!" But the thick, squarish volume itself, a collaboration between Crumb and writer Peter Poplaski, is exceedingly polite in its consideration of the reader, giving anyone who's interested in the subject just what they're looking for: a comprehensive and generously illustrated shitload of information about the world's most famous underground cartoonist. You want examples in color or black-and-white of Crumb's works from the underground Sixties and beyond, lampooning American life, exposing the artist's foibles, fears, and perversions in panel after panel of crosshatched wit? Got 'em. You want an intimate, text-based autobiography and career overview? Check. A wealth of images from the films and TV shows and funny-books that warped Crumb's childhood, family photos from that time and through the media-darling present day? A visual catalog of the Merchandising of Robert Crumb? Well, it's all wait, you want a CD sampler of music from the Cheap Suit Serenaders and other old-timey bands, American or French, that Crumb's played in? Good: That's included at the volume's front. If you like the man and his work, you'll love this book; if the thought of him makes you feel queasy, it's a hardbound, gorgeously designed emetic.