Back to my blog after a long time of absence. In that absence, my love of comic books has grown. I had the chance to meet my personal hero, the Wallace Stevens of the comic book world, Larry Marder, creator of Beanworld, at wordstock in Portland, Oregon.
That meeting inspired me not only to write the run-on sentence above, but also to look at older comics and even create my own. Be on the lookout of "Tim in Taiwan."
So, Ralph Steadman and Robert Crumb, two counterculture cartoonists with very visceral visual styles. If you research comic art at all these two guys are going to pop up over and over. First, Mr. Crumb:
Robert Crumb. The
godfather of all neurotic and angsty
cartoonists. Crumb's drawings are hyperrealistic, his written dialogue is beyond frank, his depiction of women is misogynistic, and his outlook on life is bleak. Every local cartoonist who thinks he's somebody thinks he can become great by bearing his soul on a sheet of paper is emulating Crumb. That kind of copying is might demean to original, but so far, Crumb stands alone.
The only other artist I've read that draws from Crumb in a way that doesn't make me sick is Larry Marder. The images of his inspiration
constellation carry with it a same qualities as Crumb's portraits. Marder even captures the roiling rhythm of Crumb panel in the intestine patterns on Gran'ma'pa.
I suppose like many people, I first discovered the drawings of Ralph Steadman in the pages of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. People talk about how Steadman is
expressionistic, and how his work is a result of hanging out with and being a drug crazed lunatic. It's easy to pigeonhole Steaman's work into the violent counterculture world of the Hells Angels and Gonzo journalism of the late 60s and early 70s, but have you actually ever tried to draw like Steadman? It's not that hard, all you have to do is move like a dancer on your paper and splatter ink like you're a little kid again. Steadman is joyful, natural. Crumb is the real counterculture man here, his lines are too intentional to be happy. I'd like to crown Crumb the counterculture king of comics, but there is something beautiful about the intention behind Steadman's linework. And the picture on the right? Not steadman, that's Bill Watterson.