R. Crumb, as he has always signed himself, began as an underground cartoonist and has remained generally outside the mainstream. His provocative, unrestrained, bawdy--often pornographic--work takes on everything from women and men to race. There is something deeply cynical and knowing about R. Crumb's work. His hilarious holy man/philosopher, Mr. Natural, turns out to be precisely what we might expect out of such a guy. He's a fraud and an opportunist. It's not that he isn't in on what the world is about--he clearly may be--but he's not the all-knowing wise man people in his universe seem to believe in.
Over the decades, Mr. Crumb has produced any number of comic books, including acting as illustrator for others--notably Harvey Pekar's well-known American Splendor series. Mr. Crumb has gathered and sold collections of works, including women, portraits of old-time musicians, and a cartoon version of the book of Genesis from the Bible. He relocated to France many years ago, where he still lives and works.
|G.Hoff, "Doc Sez:...an homage to Crumb," pen and ink, 2008|
Because I was interested in Mr. Crumb's technique, I drew a parody of that particular cartoon using ink and a dip pen, substituting myself in a lab coat for the leading figure, brandishing a stethoscope. My university is visible in the distance. The idea was to encourage our medical students in their clinical work. (My apologies to Mr. Crumb for my pretension.) Doing the parody not only allowed me to learn something of Mr. Crumb's methods and imagination; it gave me an opportunity to practice with the less-familiar medium.
|R.Crumb, "A Short History of America," 1980, Snoid Comics|
Those original ink drawings have been colorized, reprinted, parodied and copied. They have even been turned into a short video. featuring the colorized version of the cartoons. A number of people have speculated on message of the final image, "What Next?"
|G.Hoff, "What Else? (homage to R. Crumb)" 2016|