The R. Crumb Handbook

An introverted, maladjusted child of a dysfunctional family, Robert Crumb, by way of psychedelic drug experimentation in the mid-1960s, grew up to distill his hang-ups and neuroses into art that is at once graphically phantasmagorical and emotionally soul-baring, and in so doing became “America’s best-loved underground comic artist.” The R. Crumb Handbook packs 440 pages with some of Crumb’s finest strips, along with his unflinchingly honest autobiographical commentary, such as, “Psychedelic drugs broke me out of my social programming. It was a good thing for me, traumatic though, and I may have been permanently damaged by the whole thing. I’m not sure.” Neither am I, but I’m glad Crumb applied his talent to illustrating the experience. Unfortunately the reduced size of the smaller-paneled strips makes the dialogue balloons nearly impossible to read without a magnifying glass. But the inclusion of a boisterous 20-song bonus CD of Crumb playing with his various old-time-music bands makes up for that slight drawback.