R. Crumb: filling in the background

Cartoonist ROBERT CRUMB lives in the south of France with ALINE KOMINSKY CRUMB, his wife of 30 years. His latest book, "The Sweeter Side of R. Crumb," was published last month by MQ Publications Ltd.

As a child, my husband, Robert, already felt like an alienated old man (top left). He longed for the past, never having actually known what he was nostalgic for. It was as if he were born in the wrong time. He never felt part of the contemporary culture. You can see the roots of his alienation already beginning.

You can see from this drawing (bottom left) how out of sync Robert was — awkward, sensitive, nerdy. He was destined to suffer the cruelties of the outsider — especially in Southern California in the 1950s, where surfers and beach bunnies were the mode.

This image (near left) is reflective of Robert as a mature artist — someone who has an eye for capturing himself with total honesty and has finally honed his scathing critique of modern society. We see the artist here in his pajamas at home. He has nothing to hide; it is all there.

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