The Luminaries of the Haight-Ashbury #2: Robert Crumb

Here’s Robert Crumb in early 1973 standing in front of his mural on the Mission Rebels building, South Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco.  Photo was taken by Marilyn Jones McGrew.

I’d be surprised if any pig fan doesn’t know who Robert Crumb is, but just in case, Robert is usually credited as the originator of the San Francisco underground comix scene, and by extension, the inspiration behind every underground comic created  from 1967 until today. The first issue of Zap Comics, written and drawn that year by Crumb, kicked off the long parade.

More from Marilyn Jones McGrew: “Although Jack Jackson’s comic ‘God Nose’ probably predates ‘Zap’, as ‘Jaxon’ was publishing his own underground comic from the Texas State Capitol building in the basement print shop (literally underground) as early as 1964,  Robert is generally credited with creating the San Francisco comix scene. ”  And, the Pig adds, I was reading Gilbert Shelton’s Wonder Warthog stories in San Francisco as early as 1965. But they weren’t for sale anywhere.  They were passed from hand to hand.

Marilyn continues, “Robert began his book publishing career with a wonderfully romantic full-color illustrated novel entitled the ‘Yum Yum Book’.  This documented his obsession and desire for the fully developed female physique; which netted him his first wife, the amazing and completely original Dana Crumb (who is still alive and well in Potter Valley).

Before much time had passed Robert’s libido was freed to such an extent that he immersed himself further into his sexual fantasies, which had been tremendously influenced (and corrupted) by his early years of oppressive Catholic upbringing.  Much of his later comix work clearly could be considered anti-female in the extreme.  Yet there is no doubt that he is a gifted artist and immensely productive to this day.”

Thanks Marilyn, for your excellent portrait of the obsessive Mr. Crumb.  We’re looking forward to more from your archives of Haight-Ashbury luminaries.

I called Precita Eyes Mural Center in San Francisco to find out how the Crumb mural is holding up after thirty plus years.  It may be holding up very well, but we won’t know unless Crumb reaches Da Vinci status, and the mural archaeologists start removing paint.  That’s the trouble with murals.  Time passes.  Buildings get sold and new owners don’t care about R. Crumb murals.  And, apparently R. Crumb doesn’t care much either.  His one and only mural is not mentioned on the Official R. Crumb Website.


9 thoughts on “The Luminaries of the Haight-Ashbury #2: Robert Crumb

  1. Geez, what fun to see these portraits and commentaries on some of the iconoclastic San Francisco originals. So far it’s two for two of my having known them. Who’s next? Can’t wait for your next installment.


  2. I have a 78 of the R.Crumb Keep on Trucking Orchestra. Side 1 is “Wisconsin Wiggles” and side 2 is “River Blues”. It’s string band music, very cool.

    I believe Robert now resides in the south of France.


  3. Superb photo and commentary by Ms McGrew.

    I’m thinking the “Luminaries” series has the makings of a great book. Yep, that’s what I’m thinking, alright. It’s the ideal here’s-what-they-did; here’s where-they-are-now vehicle.


  4. I think that’s a great idea, Greg. I could be in it too, you know. When I left the Bean farm and came west, I lived in one of Spencer Dryden’s drum cases through the New Riders years. Then I moved to Stintson Beach and chased mice at Jerry and Mountain Girl’s place for a while.


  5. Wait a sec, are you saying you are the legendary Stinson Beach Jinx that is lurking in the background of that great Jerry photo in “Garcia: A Signpost to a New Space?” The same Jinx that Mountain Girl credits with keeping the property relatively rodent-free?

    Did you ever wander over to Brautigan’s place in Bolinas to scrounge up a snack? No matter. You are a definitely amongst the most deserving of the Luminaries and I look forward to seeing your accomplishments fully and properly documented in the near future.


  6. An enthusiastic Yes and then again Yes, to Greg’s suggestion of yet another book published under the guidance of the Pondering Pig!! This new series of San Francisco Luminaries would be a natural best seller for at least one generation of viewers. I personally don’t think you would have any problem finding a publisher for it. Hope no one steals your blog and publishes it under an assumed name.


  7. Aah, everybody’s always stealing my stuff. It’s a regular Free Store around here. Good thing I used to be a Digger. Or at least know some Diggers. Or maybe I was thinking about meeting some Diggers.

    But, seriously, folks, thanks for your encouragement and misplaced judgment. I will endeavor to live up your highest expectations, meager as they may be.

    No, seriously, folks, I used to know Jinx when he was a simple farm cat. Never been off the Bean place in his life except for that time we walked to Florida. Then he got into his wandering phase. I knew I should never have left my Kerouac out on the pigsty table. Cats are so damn nosy.


  8. Simple farm cat? Why, I oughta…

    Now, see, Pig. That’s what happens when you teach a buncha farm animals some people stuff like reading. Probably what happened with that dog Lassie. Damn, that dog wandered for, what, 10 years on prime time Sunday nights? Not settled on their own turf no more and got no choice but to wander.

    Is that how you ended up in Spokane? Shoulda been a show about a wandering pig.


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