“The Biggest Story in Comics in 2009?

A few weeks back, I was at Tate’s Comics in Fort Lauderdale. I had some bad cabbage so I had to go to the bathroom badly. They let me in and on the inside bathroom door, there was the famous Tommy Toilet poster by cartoonist legend R. Crumb. Only I had never seen it before. I read it from top to bottom again and again, it cracked me up and made my bathroom time that much better.

Philadelphia native Crumb was born in 1943, but he grew up in Delaware and New Jersey. His biggest influence during his youth was his depressed older brother Charles, who co-wrote many of the comics they produced as children. Charles himself was featured in Terry Zwigoff’s hit documentary “Crumb,” although tragically so.

In the beginning, Crumb illustrated cards for American Greetings. Then he took acid and created the wild characters which he was to become known for… Fritz the Cat, Bigfoot, Mr. Natural and Angelfood McSpade, among others. Crumb defined the San Francisco Era in the 60s and 70s with his underground rock posters, as well as covers for Zap Comix, the Weirdo Years and much more. Like many comic artists, including Woody Allen and Harvey Pekar, he’s an afficionado of pre-1930s jazz (he has nearly five thousand 78 records) with his own band called the Cheap Suit Serenaders.

These days, Crumb lives in the south of France with his cartoonist wife Aline, where he has just finished work on a four year project illustrating what is being described as the “biggest story in comics in 2009,? Crumb’s Book of Genesis. The already controversial comic is excerpted in this week’s The New Yorker.

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