In the beginning, there was Crumb.

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Last night I went to UCLA’s Royce Hall for “An Evening with R. Crumb.” He spoke with The New Yorker‘s art editor Françoise Mouly. The crowd was a mixed bag; a bag mixed with an older generation of white-haired folks and younger dudes who obsess over comics and big butts, and misunderstood artists, and then me, who won Booksoup‘s contest and ended up going solo to the affair.

I have to admit that I am a recent convert to Crumb. Everything turned around when I read an article in the New York Times a few years ago that interviewed him and his wife Aline, and she was such a cool lady that I gained immediate respect for him. They’ve got a good thing going over there in France.

Anyway, the talk last night wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. We saw a slide show of family photos and his early work (including a hilarious greeting card about a studly masseuse). Mouly asked him if he ever considered applying for a job at The New Yorker instead of working for a greeting card company in Cleveland at the age of 19, and he let her have it. It was a really stupid question, I thought. Do New Yorker people have no clue how elite they are? That question made me wonder if she was the best person to interview him.

Anyway, I wanted to hear more about his interest in the ancient texts that led to his Genesis project and why he was reading them in the first place. I think his one-page introduction to The Book of Genesis actually gave me a better understanding of the project than anything discussed last night.  He also mentioned that he was (and still is, I guess) dyslexic and didn’t realize this until later in life. Comics saved him when he was a kid because he just couldn’t read regular books.

Once the “talk” was over and the Q&A period began, all hell broke loose. People were shouting out questions and some guy up in the bleachers was trying to promote his web site. The evening ended when some lame woman asked Crumb about his personal style and the hats he wears. Oh, my. Crumb said, “Well, we are in LA, aren’t we.”

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~ by Valerie Palmer on October 30, 2009.

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