Pro-censorship Fundamentalists have now set their rifle sights on the "thought crimes" of artist Robert Crumb. What follow are choice excerpts from Brian Doherty's REASON MAGAZINE article (available in the May 2019 issue) entitled "Cancel Culture Comes for Counterculture Comics":
[E]vents in the comics world last year served notice that the social-justice re-evaluation currently sweeping comedy, film, and literature has arrived at the doorstep of free-thinking comics. In September, at the Small Press Expo's Ignatz Awards ceremony in Bethesda, Maryland, Crumb's successor generation of alt artists let the 75-year-old have it with both barrels.
presenting the award for Outstanding Artist, the cartoonist Ben
Passmore, who is black, asserted that "comics is changing…and it's not
an accident." He lamented the continued industry presence of "creeps"
and "apologists," then called out the godfather [Robert Crumb] by name:
"Shit's not going to change on its own. You gotta keep on being annoying
about it.…A while ago someone like R. Crumb would be 'Outstanding.'"
room erupted with both "ooohs" and booing. "A little while ago there'd
be no boos," Passmore responded. "I wouldn't be up here, real talk, and
yo—fuck that dude." The crowd burst into applause.
brief against Crumb is both specific to his famous idiosyncrasies and
generally familiar to our modern culture of outrage archeology. His art
has trafficked in crude racial and anti-Semitic stereotypes, expressed
an open sense of misogyny, and included depictions of incest and rape.
Crumb's comics are "seriously problematic because of the pain and harm
caused by perpetuating images of racial stereotypes and sexual
violence," the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) explained
last year when removing Crumb's name from one of its exhibit rooms.
talk alarms Gary Groth, co-founder of Fantagraphics, the premiere
American publisher of quality adult comics, including a 17-volume series
of The Complete Crumb Comics.
"The spontaneity and vehemence" of the backlash, Groth says, "surprised
me—and I guess what also disheartened me was, I'm pretty sure the vast
majority of people booing Crumb are not familiar with his work.…This
visceral dislike of him has no basis in understanding who Crumb is, his
place in comics history, his contribution to the form."
to the misunderstanding is Crumb's willingness to probe human darkness,
including his own, and his sheer maniacal delight in transgression.
(Crumb's own explanation for one of his more notorious incest-related
strips was, "I was just being a punk.") The Ignatz Awards crowd, Groth
worries, "will not tolerate that kind of expression, and I think that's
disturbing. Cartooning has a long history of being transgressive and
controversial and pushing boundaries, and now we have a generation very
much opposed to that, who want to censure fellow artists from doing work
they don't approve of—even though they are able to do what they are doing and want to do precisely because of trailblazing on the part of artists they now abominate."