Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Crumb versus Java

I was just sitting here minding my own business trying to read a textbook on Java. Riveting stuff. Although I enjoy technical writing I'd hate to have to write a complete textbook on a programming language. I would not be able to suppress my sarcasm and my metaphors would probably be inappropriate. Metaphors are very important in technical explanations. For example sometimes in software design theory we refer to two software pieces that are tightly coupled. Imagine the metaphors.

Anyway, I suddenly noticed that someone left a copy of a Robert Crumb Sketch book (Volume 10) on the chair next to me. You might not know this Artist's name but if you were around in the 60's or 70's you probably would recognize one of his cartoons or posters. He is probably most famous for the various versions of Keep on Trucking.

When I was 12 or 15 (I can't remember) I had two kinds of friends. One type had Crumb's Keep on Trucking poster on their wall. The other had that stupid Farrah Fawcet poster.

My favourite Crumb poster is the cover he created for the Cheap Thrills Album around 1968:

Robert Crumb met Janice Joplin in 1960's San Francisco. They became friends and she asked him to do the Album Cover. Crumb was paid a one time fee of $6,000.00 and Columbia Records ended up owning the rights to the drawing. I believe Crumb eventually got the rights back, but much later. When Janis Joplin heard that Crumb had lost the rights to the work she immediately fell over and died.

(Editor: Oh come on, that's really mean.)

And not all that funny.

The Crumb sketch books are unstructured and have no narrative. They're sketch books. There are previously unpublished doodles, out-takes, and works in progress. This shows an interesting side of the artistic process, that it can be iterative and repetitive. Occasionally he writes self-deprecating comments in the sidebar. Why can I never draw a chair properly?

Other Crumb notables include Natural Man - an old man in a flowing robe with a long white beard who strides along with his elbows flying around like he's Chris Pronger. Then there are all the Hell's Angels, pictured on ridiculously tricked out bikes, the odd one with a big cyclops eye.

There are a lot of drawings of women. Mostly the women are wearing hot pants, drawn with their backs to the artist, and always looking saucily over their shoulder. Always, they have very large butts. That was just his thing.

Rumours have always persisted that the FBI watched Crumb because his Comics were considered politically subversive and anti-America. Thankfully they were. If our society does collapse I would squarely blame Robert Crumb, John Lennon and Mad Magazine just for starters. I have more on my list and I'm watching you all.

Calgary, Alberta
20 June 2007

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