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R.Crumb - Friday Flashback (Nov. 1991)
2004-04-02 @ 12:06 p.m.

I was in Chicago for a comic book convention. It was my first time in Chicago. Here’s who I was there to meet-(in my order of importance)

Gilbert Hernandez
Jaime Hernandez
Dan Clowes
Terry LaBan
Larry Marder
Robert Crumb

It was a pretty big deal that Crumb was at this convention. I am not a gigantic fan of Crumb, but because all the comic artists I adore would quite possibly not exist if Zap Comix had never been published, he has my respect. If any of you have seen the documentary Crumb by Terry Zweighoff it really is accurate.

So Friday night, we all went to a signing at Haley’s Comics a tiny little store owned by Sung Koo. It was a great store, and I was having a great time, talking to Dan Clowes (who had done a book signing at my store the previous year) and meeting Larry Marder and Terry LaBan. I was far too intimidated to actually go up and meet Jaime or Gilbert Hernandez, who were (and are) my favorites. I just couldn’t be my normal brazen self. I found myself talking to a woman who was associated with Drawn & Quarterly Comics in Toronto, and just having a really good time. After a bit she said “I really want to go talk to Jaime, do you want to come with me?” I knew that she knew him, and figured I might too. My “I couldn’t” was met with a dismissal of “Don’t be silly, he’s extremely nice”

So I did end up getting to meet Jaime and Gilbert, and also somehow managed to not make a fool of myself. After the signing was over, we all went to a bar and ended up going to Dan Clowes’s APARTMENT which completely blew my mind. All the cartoonists I’ve been lucky enough to meet and talk with, I cannot stress enough- how nice they all are. This amazes me, because being able to tell a story using words and pictures is a talent that blows my mind. Because a cartoonist controls the story’s telling and imagery completely and it leaves very little room for misinterpretation. If it’s well done, a comic book can move you just as hugely as a book, or a movie. Most of the cartoonists I’ve gotten to meet are extremely nice and genuine, easy and eager to speak to you. It just doubles your respect for them.

So Saturday at the convention, I am walking around on a cloud. I got to meet Larry Reid, the curator of the comic book art exhibit that was coming to Mpls the next month- Dan Clowes agreed the Comic College could sponsor him to be our guest artist there, (we invited Terry LaBan too, but he was in a wedding that weekend) and I was just happy as could be. Early Saturday I had a conversation with Denis Kitchen about a dress I was wearing that I had sewn myself, and we talked about the possibility of me helping Kitchen Sink Press produce textile designs using classic Crumb images. My mind was blown in general with the coolness of everything going on. Later that afternoon, R.Crumb came over to the Comic College’s table and was looking through the little big books and older non-superhero comics we had. Ralph, my boss was beside himself. He whispered “Ask him if he’ll get his picture taken with you…” I was afeared, but I said I’d get a picture taken, but Ralph had to ask. Crumb said sure.

First I shimmied through the 7” gap between our table and the next. I had already joked “If my behind can squeeze through this space, I couldn’t be Crumb’s type..” because Crumb is known for loving muscular thighs and big behinds and I have wide hips, but slim legs and a flat wide behind. I went over to Crumb to get our picture taken.

The guy using Ralph’s camera (an enthusiastic stranger) said after a nice standing next to Crumb pose, “Do a funner pose than that..” and so Crumb and I pressed our cheeks together in an old-timey sort of pose, and suddenly Crumb got a hold of my leg and lifted it in front of us in a crosswise high kick. I laughed because it was probably a good picture, and noted that Crumb had really really bad breath. When the picture was taken, I moved my face away from his saying thank you. I was trying to back away, but Crumb wouldn’t put my leg down. He was looking at it in his hands as if he’d forgotten it was attached to a person who might fall backwards if she tried to move away without her leg.

“Excuse me?” I tapped his shoulder “Can I have my leg back?”
Crumb grinned
“How old are you?”
I somehow turned and pivoted on the one foot I retained control of and managed to wrench my leg from his grasp
I didn't quite glare at him-
“I’m 22.”
He grinned like a simpleton as I shook his hand and told him it had been nice to meet him. I turned to find every other cartoonist I adored all gaping at the spectacle on the verge of applause.

Later Denis wanted to introduce me to Crumb in regards to the textile idea. “I met him Denis, he wouldn’t put my leg down.” Denis grimaced. ‘yeah, you have to be careful with him. He’s meek, and yet there’s some self-indulgent bravery there. You don’t have to sit right next to him at dinner…”

Thanks to Larry Reid, I had to tell that anecdote at every comics event at least once for years. The reaction in general was

That adorable irrepressible Robert Crumb, can control his love of legs, doncha know.

I know.

Apparently I can't shut up...
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