The famed illustrator discusses his work with the art editor of The New Yorker, including his new book, an illustration of the Book of Genesis, from the Creation to the death of Joseph.
Robert Crumb is a leading figure in the history of American underground comics. As a child he spent hours creating elaborate storybooks with his brothers (a group effort reminiscent of the childhood creations of Emily Bronte and her sisters).
In 1968 he began publishing Zap Comics, the series often credited with spurring the underground comics movement in America. Crumb's cartoon "Keep on Truckin'" -- an image of big-footed hipsters in a cheerful strut -- became a popular counterculture symbol, popping up on posters and T-shirts (most produced without Crumb's consent). He also drew a famous album cover for the band Big Brother and the Holding Company (featuring Janis Joplin).
Other Crumb characters include Flakey Foont, Angelfood McSpade, Devil Girl, and the irascible, bearded Mr. Natural. Fritz the Cat, Crumb's comically randy feline, was the star of an X-rated 1972 movie by animator Ralph Bakshi. Crumb, a 1995 documentary by Crumb's friend Terry Zwigoff, brought the cartoonist renewed notoriety and made him a mainstream figure.
Francoise Mouly joined The New Yorker as art editor in April,1993.
She founded Raw Books & Graphics in 1977 and for fifteen years published artists' monographs and the annual "Streets of Soho and Tribeca Map & Guide." Ms. Mouly was the founder, publisher, designer, and co-editor along with her husband, cartoonist Art Spiegelman, of the pioneering avant-garde comics anthology "RAW," which launched in 1980.
RAW first brought acclaim to artists such as Charles Burns, Sue Coe, Gary Panter, Chris Ware, Lorenzo Mattotti, Joost Swarte, Xavier Mariscal, and many others. It is also the magazine where "Maus," Mr. Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning comic book on the Holocaust, was first published.
From 1987 to 1995, Ms. Mouly edited and designed books for Pantheon and Penguin Books.
Legendary underground comic artist Robert Crumb reflects on illustrating the "primitive morality" found in the Book of Genesis. "If you're going to use that [Genesis] for moral guidance, I think you're going to be in trouble," says Crumb.