Crumb (1994) Script

♪♪ [Piano: Ragtime, Medium Tempo]


♪♪ [Continues]

♪♪ [Ends]

[Robert Crumb] If I don't draw for a while, I get really crazy.

I start feeling really, like, depressed and suicidal if I don't get to draw.

But then some nights when I'm drawing, I feel suicidal too, so -

[Terry Zwigoff] What are you trying to get at in your work?

[Laughing] Jesus.

I don't know.

I don't work in terms of conscious messages. I can't do that.

It has to be something that I'm revealing to myself while I'm doing it... which is hard to explain.

Which means that while I'm doing it, I don't know exactly what it's about.

You just have to have the - the courage or the - to take that chance, you know.

What's gonna come out? What's coming out of this?

I enjoy drawing. That's all.

It's a deeply ingrained habit. It's all because of my brother Charles.

Hello, Mother? I'm in Philadelphia.

I'm gonna give a talk at the - at the art school downtown tomorrow.

So Terry and this film crew are here with me.

So, um, they'd like to come over and drop me off there... and talk to - possibly to Charles... about maybe filming him if you're not up -

He doesn't wanna do it?

Hmm. Okay.

All right.

That's okay. Doesn't matter.

No, if you don't want him to, I certainly won't - not gonna -

[Chuckles] Okay.

All right. Bye.

Well, that's that.

I, uh, start with this one... because it's most probably the thing that I'm most well known for in the world.

And you could see it for a long time on truck mud flaps. [Audience Chuckling]

I don't know why it caught the popular imagination.

It caused me nothing but headaches for 10 years after I drew it.

Lawsuits and I.R.S. problems. It was a nightmare.

Just because of this stupid "Keep on Truckin'."

So don't anybody ever come to me and say, "Hey, R. Keep on truckin'."

[Laughter]

This is probably the next thing I'm most well known for.

I'm just trying to, you know, hook you into the way I am here.

This sold millions of copies.

I got $600 from CBS Records in 1968.

And they kept my artwork. They stole my artwork.

Those... bastards.

And I heard recently that the original of this sold at Sotheby's for $21,000.

This is the third thing I'm the most well known for... because this was made into a major full-length animated cartoon... which was an embarrassment to me for the rest of my life.

And I have to say I had nothing to do with the cartoon.

I didn't want them to do it. I thought they were schlockmeisters.

And they just rolled right over me.

So I had this character killed in a later story I did.

I had a female ostrich stab him in the head with an ice pick.

[Laughter]

[Woman] When I first met him, he never talked.

He just drew the whole time. He was, like, catatonic... and the only voice he had was his pen.

He was very productive, but he was, like, really -

My mother thought he was retarded when she met him.

She said, you know, "Some people like cripples.

Some people like retards." What could I say?

She thought I was a real creep when she first met me.

But soon as we lived in one place for a long time - he's known the same people for a long time - he's more comfortable.

He's a little bit more communicative.

But still, you know, he clams up.

He really gets stilted in his conversation around anybody he doesn't know really well.

That's why I'm such an exciting subject for a movie.

[Aline, Laughing] Yeah, right.

Watch out with those weights.

Don't hit me with those things.

[Aline] Don't go behind me.

[Aline] These rich rednecks have moved out here... and built their dream homes on top of every single hill.

There used to be nothing over here, and then these people bought this property -

Shh. They might hear you. and built this house.

Shh. Not too loud. Right above our house.

[Shushing] So that it looks right into Robert's studio.

Quiet. I don't care if they hear me.

Couldn't be any ruder than them putting their house right above mine.

Tone down. What do I care?

I guess not. Since we're moving to France, what do you care?

Now they have a plan to widen this road... and put it right through where these trees are.

There was a big "X" here that the surveyors sprayed on here... and I erased it the other day.

And I took out their sticks from the other side of the road over there.

They're gonna widen this road and take a big chunk of land out of that side with all these trees... and put 12 dream homes back in there.

Me and Aline decided we would chain ourselves to these oak trees over here... if they try and take 'em out.

Look. Our house is so humble. It's nestled against a hill.

It's tasteful. [Laughing] It's tasteful.

All these other houses are orientated to look down at our place... because it's like a backdrop for their air-conditioned nightmare houses.

[Robert] Each hilltop can view each other hilltop.

The schmucks.

[Pen Scratching]

♪♪ [Whistling Through Teeth]

I'm drawing some portraits of girls that I had crushes on in high school in Milford, Delaware.

This one I'm drawing now is Winona Newhouse... affectionately known among the boys as "The Shelf "...

'cause she had this, like, phenomenal rear shelf.

She was nice, too, actually. She was kind to me.

[Pages Flipping]

This one here - Naomi Wilson - is this cross-eyed farm girl... that wore homemade clothes to school.

I secretly had a crush on her. I was very sexually attracted to her.

And of course you never dare admit it openly... that you liked this funky girl that had B.O. and hairy legs.

[Chuckling]

And this Jean Strahle - I liked her too. She was also considered a dork.

I remember she was kind of a bookwormy type that talked with a lisp.

Shapely, powerful legs.

I never actually had any contact with these girls... except I used to play footsie with this one.

Ah, where are they now?

It was 30 years ago. Thirty years ago.

They're all middle-aged housewives now. Jesus, what a thought.

Winona.

I wish she was here now - the 17-year-old Winona - instead of this film crew.

When I listen to old music, it's one of the few times... when I actually have a kind of a love for humanity.

You hear the best part of the soul of the common people, you know.

It's their way of expressing their connection to eternity or whatever you want to call it.

Modern music doesn't have that.

It's a calamitous loss that people can't express themselves that way anymore.

[Record Scratching]

♪♪ [Acoustic Guitar: Blues]


[Woman] ♪ The last kind word ♪

♪ I heard my daddy say ♪

♪ Lord, the last kind word I heard my daddy say♪

♪ I went to the depot ♪

♪ I looked up at the stars ♪

♪ Cried, some train don't come ♪

♪ There'll be some walking done ♪

♪ My mama told me ♪

♪ Just before she died ♪

♪ Lord, precious daughter♪

♪ Don't you be so wild ♪

♪ When you see me comin' ♪

♪ Look 'cross the rich man's field ♪

♪ If I don't bring you flour♪

♪ I'll bring you bolted meal ♪


♪ What you do to me, baby ♪

♪ It never gets out of me ♪

♪ I may not see you ♪

♪ After I cross the deep-blue sea ♪

♪♪ [Guitar Continues]

♪♪ [Ends]

[Robert] So I guess, late 1948, when I was about five years old... we moved to this section of Philadelphia.

This is this project that we lived in right here.

I can't remember which of these places we lived in. They all look the same.

Jesus. It's grim here.

Oh, my God. This is where we used to go to the market right here.

There was a little dime store that sold toys there.

We used to buy candy and stuff in there. And comic books.

Also, we - just the three brothers, me and Charles and Maxon - hung around together a lot.

We used to rummage around this dump sometimes looking for stuff.

One time, my brother Charles brought this thing back from the dump.

It was this beautiful wooden truck - like an ice cream truck made out of wood.

I wanted that thing really bad, and he wouldn't let me touch it or anything.

He was real spiteful that way. [Chuckles]

So I made a big fuss, and I told my mother.

She said, "Charles, let him play with that when you're through."

Then he said, "Okay."

So about 15 minutes later, he came in the house and said...

"Okay, Robert, I'm through with it. You can play with it now."

So I ran outside, and he had smashed it to smithereens against the wall of the house.

[Robert] So, Charles, you read any good books lately?

[Laughing]

I guess I have. I don't know.

You seem to be kind of, like... recycling a lot of these books you've read.

What do you mean by recycling? Like, you're kind of reading -

I mean, you read 'em all 20 years ago. Now you're reading them all again.

I'm reading them again, yeah.

I do that because there's nothing else to do.

You've read 'em all. You ever read anything new?

I haven't read Kant yet or Hegel. Do you have any interest in that kind of stuff?

Maybe I'll eventually get around to reading them. I don't know.

You read any recent writers?

Not really, no. Not interested in them?

Most of them aren't that good. Most of them aren't that interesting.

They're not nearly as interesting as the old Victorian writers... of the late 19th century.

I always kind of envied your life in a way, 'cause my life has become so hectic and -

Why? Because I was so detached from the human race?

Is that one of the reasons why you envy me?

This cloistered environment with your books and -

Believe me, it's nothing to envy. [Laughs]

Charles is the one that started this whole comic thing in the family.

He was completely obsessed with comics when we were kids... and had absolutely no other normal kid interests.

He wasn't interested in toys or games. He didn't play sports.

He didn't do anything but read comics, draw comics... think comics and talk 'em.

I mean, I liked drawing, but I have other drawing interests besides comics.

I like to draw realistic scenes and, you know... just pictures of buildings and cars and stuff.

He wasn't interested in that at all. It was only the comics.

This is the earliest one that still exists that I have.

Charles drew this one.

That's supposed to be me, and that's him. [Laughs]

He made me feel absolutely worthless if I wasn't drawing comics.

I don't think I would've done that. I don't think I was as far gone as that.

It was, like, insidious.

Maybe I was just unconsciously imitating the old man.

[Both Laugh]

[Zwigoff] What was he like when you were growing up?

What, my father? He was an overbearing tyrant.

[Laughs] Yes, he was.

Maybe I was unconsciously imitating him when I forced you to draw comic books.

[Laughs]

There's still a kind of sibling rivalry going on between me and Robert... like there was when we were little kids and he was still living at home.

I think it's - I think, basically, that Robert and I are still competing with each other.

It's, like, when I'm drawing comics, I still think of Charles's approval when I'm drawing... and whether or not he's gonna like 'em.

Charles had everybody drawing comics in the family.

The Animal Town Publishing Company.

That was a kind of club we had as little kids... where we sat around and talked about comics.

I was usually the president... and Robert was usually the vice president.

Carol was usually the secretary.

And Sandy was the treasurer, and Maxon was the supply boy.

[Laughs]

And he still resents that.

He still resents the fact that we imposed the role of supply boy on him.

[Door Buzzes]

Max Crumb in Room 310?

♪♪ [Robert Humming]

Maxon was the scapegoat in the family.

Oh, don't talk about it.

There was five kids... and he was definitely on the bottom of the heap.

Well, just to explain is that we had these meetings... for this club that Charles put together called the -

Animal Town Comics Club.

Yeah, it had something to do with comics and all that stuff.

Everybody had their different job - a secretary and a president and a vice president.

I was supply boy. [Laughing]

I got it a little more heavy, you know, direct than Robert did or something.

It was the whole thing. It was this incredible crazy sibling thing... between me and Charles and Robert up in this little room upstairs.

And the whole rest of the world didn't know what the fuck was going on.

It's like these three primordial monkeys working it out in the trees.

Me and Maxon slept in the same bed together until we were 16 or something.

Very intimate, you know, close situation.

[Robert] Charles was real inspired by the Disney movie... where Robert Newton plays Long John Silver.

After we saw it on TV in 1955, we started playing pirates.

You know, like normal kids do. We'd go out and pretend -

We made this ship out of an old refrigerator carton and everything.

Charles would walk around town dressed up like Long John Silver.

He had this old coat of my mother's, this long green coat.

And he made himself a three-cornered hat out of some woman's hat.

He had a crutch, and he'd tie up his leg and go around town that way.

I didn't realize till years later how fixated Charles really was on this Treasure Island thing.

This thing dominated our play and our fantasy for six or seven years after that.

We drew these comics about Treasure Island... and it became this real baroque, elaborate thing... way beyond the original Disney film.

This is one of Charles's.

This is one of our two-man comics... in which he would draw some of the characters and I would draw some of them.

We'd have them interact with each other.

That was also a great school of cartooning for me - was having to come up with clever retorts to him.

He was actually much cleverer and funnier than I was.

It actually got kind of tiresome, but you had to do it. He was in charge.

I had this very definite, bad problem about Charles.

Sometimes I think a lot of it had to do with my - an overly morbid sensitivity to the guy or something too.

As well as his natural affinity to get in there and profit off it.

Robert, of course, was somewhat of a middleman.

It had this way of, like, restricting... or causing this terrible self-consciousness and restriction in me as a kid.

I was morbidly modest about my body.

Sex was, like, completely removed.

When it became time for me to become sexually aware... when I was in puberty, sex was nowhere near my life.

Just absolutely nothing to do with it. [Robert] Repressed.

I was so heavily repressed, naturally I had a feeling that's why the seizures started.

I have these seizures - A seizure's like a point where your behavior becomes -

I'd have to get into the whole sex trip which is an awful involved topic.

That's all I thought about when I was in my late teens and early 20s - was sex.

And I masturbated about four or five times a week.

How frequently did you - I don't masturbate anymore.

My sexual desires are completely dead now.

Like I told you the other night, I can't even get an erection anymore.

[Robert] Oh, my God. [Laughing]

I don't know whether it's one thing, or maybe it's a combination of things.

Maybe it's a combination of the medication and the lack of external stimulation.

And maybe approaching old age, too, has something to do with it.

All those things probably.

I mean, you need some external stimulation to keep up your interest.

I don't know. Now that my sexual desires are gone...

I'm not so sure I want them back again.

[Robert] My earliest sexual memories?

Well - [Clicks Tongue]

Actually, I remember being, like, four years old and getting erections -

I think it was my aunt or my mother's sister... and kind of humping her legs and her shoes under the table.

I remember going into my mother's closet - she had these cowboy boots that she wore when it rained - and humping those in the closet.

[Laughs]

And singing while I was doing it. Singing -

♪ Jesus loves me This I know ♪

♪ For the Bible tells me so ♪♪

[Laughing]

When I was about five or six, I was sexually attracted to Bugs Bunny.

And I cut out this Bugs Bunny off the cover of a comic book and carried it around with me.

I carried it around in my pocket and took it out and looked at it periodically.

It got all wrinkled up from handling it so much... that I asked my mother to iron it on the ironing board to flatten it out.

And she did, and I was deeply disappointed...

'cause it got all brown when she ironed it, and brittle, and it crumbled apart.

[Zwigoff] What was it about Bugs Bunny that got you excited? I don't know.

I had this sexual attraction to cute cartoon characters.

[Laughing] You tell me. I don't know.

♪♪ [Sheena Theme]

That all changed when I turned 12 and I became fixated on Sheena.

[Blowing Horn]

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.

A TV show around, like, '55, '56.

[Blowing Horn]

I became totally obsessed with Sheena.

I went to bed every night thinking about the things I wanted to do with Sheena.

[Horn Blows] [Monkeys Chattering]

[Charles] Robert was very hung up on sex when he was a little kid... even more so than I was.

[Laughing] I was? Do you think so?

Yeah. I think you were more inhibited as a child than I was.

Even sexually.

I think you were more afraid of women than I was, as a young person.

When I was in high school, I had a few dates with girls.

When you were in high school, you didn't have any dates at all with anybody.

You were actually sort of good-looking and everything.

[Charles] I was a handsome, good-looking chap when I was a teenager.

But there was just this something that was wrong with my personality. I don't know.

[Robert] The teachers hated him. The kids hated him.

High school was an absolute nightmare. [Laughs]

I was the most unpopular kid in the high school.

[Zwigoff] Why?

People were always picking on me and beating me up... and the girls wouldn't have anything to do with me.

They treated me like I was the scum of the earth.

[Robert] So, in this strip, I'm talking all about my problems with women... starting with high school where I learned a lot about women.

Because there was this guy named Skutch - this guy here - who was, like, the - kind of this mean bully.

But he was also very charming, and all the girls liked him.

He was the dreamboat, but he was also a bully.

And my brother Charles was one of the guys he singled out for particular attention.

And he had this gang of flunkies that hung around with him - this guy Skutch.

I just remember this scene where they -

Skutch punches out my brother in the hallway at school.

That was a very sad sight for me to see.

Charles gave up trying to be popular or have girlfriends or anything... after everybody saw that he couldn't fight back and was beat up by Skutch.

I've been living at home since I graduated from high school.

I made a few feeble attempts along the way.

[Robert] In a funny way, you're no worse off than people that are out there in the world... that have to deal with the fuckin' world all the time.

You gotta take into consideration the fact that I'm taking tranquilizers. That's true.

And that makes it a lot easier than it would otherwise be - That's true. by taking these tranquilizers and antidepressants.

If it wasn't for them, I'd probably go completely crazy... living here at home with Mother.

[Both Laughing]

I have to walk on eggs when I'm around her.

Oh, yeah. You do. Yeah.

You can't tell my mother the absolute truth.

She's in a heavy state of denial about a lot of things.

I don't think we should be talking about this.

[Woman] Where are my kitty cats? Also about our mother, she's -

Oh, my God! What's that thing? I've looked in the house, and they're gone.

She doesn't like you to talk about her -

Charles! What?

There's a person in the hallway. What?

Fix that thing in the hallway. What thing?

The window. What's wrong with it?

[Robert] It's some film equipment or something.

It's some kind of film equipment, Mother.

Where are my kitty cats? I don't know.

Don't worry about it. It's all gonna be out of here.

It'll all be back to normal. [Mother Muttering]

[Robert Laughing]

All the crap goin' on. [Robert] Uh-oh.

And here it shows all these girls talking about how one of their friends... got a date with Skutch and how envious they all are.

And this is how I felt about it. [Laughing]

I'm a little bitter about it as you can see here.

Then I show here how I thought that most teenage boys... are very cruel and aggressive and everything like that... and if girls could see that I was more kind and sensitive, they would like me more.

They're kind of impressed by the fact that I could draw, but -

I couldn't understand why they liked these cruel, aggressive guys and not me.

'Cause I was more kind and sensitive and everything more like them.

I was more like them. I didn't realize that they didn't want you to be like them, basically.

I felt very hurt and cruelly misunderstood... because I considered myself talented and intelligent.

Yet I was not very attractive physically.

But I didn't think those things really mattered. It was what's inside that was important.

When I was 13, 14 and trying to be a normal teenager, I was really a jerk.

I mean, just - I tried to, you know, act like I thought they were acting.

It just came out all wrong and weird.

So then I just stopped completely and just became a shadow... and I wasn't even there.

People weren't even aware that I was, you know... in the - in the same world they were in.

And that kind of freed me completely, because I wasn't under those pressures to be normal.

So I got interested in old-time music... and went to the black section of town, knocking on doors... and looking for old records and things like that... that would be unthinkable if you were gonna be a normal teenager.

Starting about age 17, I started being driven by that obsession... that I'll go down in history as a great artist.

That'll be my revenge.

This is my image celebrating Valentine's Day.

"February 13, 1962.

"I decided to reject conforming when society rejected me.

"I've heard all that 'be yourself ' stuff.

"When I'm myself, people think I'm nuts.

"Guess I'll have to be satisfied with cats and old records.

"Girls are just utterly out of my reach.

They won't even let me draw them."

[Laughing]

Yeah, all that changed after I got famous.

[People Chattering]

[People Chattering]

No, I absolutely - I would love to pose for you.

Oh, excellent. Excellent.

Anytime you wanna come by and visit, that would be really nice.

Excellent.

I always wanted to see you again, so -

Some of the early Weirdo collages.

And also some publications. We managed to track them down.


I think Crumb is - Basically, he's the Brueghel... of the last half of the 20th century.

There wasn't a Brueghel of the first half... but there is one of the last half... and that is Robert Crumb.

Because he gives you that tremendous kind of impaction... of lusting, suffering, crazed humanity... in all sorts of bizarre, gargoyle-like allegorical forms.

He's just got this very powerful imagination which goes right over the top a lot of the time.

But it very seldom lies.

To me, he's Mr. Natural.

He accepts women how they really are... and makes them even more beautiful than they really -

I mean, like that woman.

I mean, she's really - She's got energy and form and drive.

These women - you can't push these women around.

They're not wimps.

He gives power to women.

He made it okay for me to have a butt.

He did a drawing of me, which I really liked a lot.

It was really me.

It showed my thighs as they really are.

He helped me change my self-image.

I had felt so inadequate before.

It was like I didn't know having a butt -

Believe me, you're adequate. [Laughing]

Oh, you're so adequate.

I feel that Robert's work is one of the... most pertinent social portraits of an era... touching issues related to politics... to sex, to drugs, to religion... um, to the fine arts.

And I would say that Robert is the Daumier of our time.

I think he's a very remarkable artist indeed.

The tradition that I see him belonging to is essentially the one of, you know... graphic art as social protest, social criticism... which, of course, has extremely long roots and goes back to -

There are elements of Goya in Crumb.

Goya's sense of monstrosity comes out in those... menacing bird-headed women of Crumb's, for instance.

Robert. In front of all these people? In front of all these people.

[Laughing] Robert!

[Robert] Down this way. Quick.

[Man] Looks like the undergrounds are alive and well.

A whole industry sprung up.

They're still reprinting the early ones.

Number two.

Number four.

God only knows how many of those have been printed by now.

Puke & Explode.

What's this called? It's called Puke & Explode.

That's new. Who put that out? These kids today.

I don't know about these kids today.

So I guess you really started all this. You created this whole thing.

You're responsible.

I don't like to take credit for that, Don.

Some of this stuff, I know. Yeah, nobody would, but, um -

[Laughing]

Hey, Robert, I'm a really big fan of yours.

I'm wondering if there's any chance I can get an autograph from you.

I don't think so. I don't believe in giving autographs.

Okay, well. Thanks anyway.

Have you, uh - When are you actually moving?

Couple months. Couple months? Wow.

France isn't, you know, perfect or anything... but it's just slightly less evil than the United States, I think.

But that's not why I'm moving, of course.

Talk to my wife if you want to know why I'm moving.

We do have something here that we wanted to show you though.

Oh, yeah? Yeah.

From 1967 - rock concert poster.

Extremely rare item. Yeah.

It's my only rock concert poster I ever did.

There's this legend that I keep hearing all the time.

People telling me, yeah...

"Somebody told me you used to live with the Grateful Dead...

"down here in the Haight-Ashbury... and, you know, you hung around with Jerry Garcia."

I never had anything to do with those guys. I hated that music.

I went to a couple of those rock concerts and just fell asleep.

It was completely boring, that psychedelic music.

♪♪ [Drumming] [Man Chattering]

I've got something for you. I wanna tell you a little secret.

It's called Om mani padme hum.

[Continues, Indistinct]

This is where I get recognized more than any other place in the world... still, is on Haight Street.

[Donahue] It's amazing. I know. These are my people.

Yeah.

People come up to me and say, "R. Crumb. Ah!"

Sometimes some guy will come and sit with me... and chew my ear off about all his hopes and dreams.

'Cause usually it's some, like, broken-down hippie pest guy.

You know. It's never a beautiful, young 20-year-old girl or nothing.

But it's just so interesting to come down here and draw people.

That's the main reason I come here, just to watch people.

This girl was sitting here one day. Beautiful girl.

And I drew this other girl.

She came up and wanted the drawing, so I cut it out, gave it to her.

Ah. Good way to meet girls. Right.

I drew this girl, and she invited me to her house.

Wow. Unfortunately, she wasn't very attractive.

You kept the picture, I see.

[People Chattering Inside]

You know, it's kind of ironic that you're so identified with the '60s.

But at the time, it didn't seem like you really fit in with that whole flower child thing.

God knows I tried.

I used to come up here every day and try and be one of them and -

My main motivation, of course, was, you know... to get some of that "free love" action... but I wasn't too good at it.

People would ask, "Are you a narc"?

They would move away from me at the love-in.

I looked the same as I do now, basically.

Exactly. You're, in fact - You did have kind of a costume, but it wasn't the same kind -

It wasn't the right costume.

I remember Janis Joplin giving me this piece of advice.

She said, "Crumb, what's the matter with you? Don't you like girls?"

I said, "Of course I like girls. What do you think?"

She said, "Well, look, just, you know, let your hair grow long...

"and get one of those satin billowy shirts, a velvet jacket...

"some bell bottoms and platform shoes.

You'll do all right. You'll do okay."

I just can't - I couldn't do that.

The whole thing was just too - too silly to me.

I couldn't get with it, you know.

Here's a real beautiful one.

I should get -

The work in this book - the art, the feelings - it's what made me fall in love with Robert.

The way he saw colors and the way he saw women.

When I was 17 years old, I looked a lot like that.

So I was what he had been drawing.

I was the embodiment of what he had been drawing for years.

It's such a sweet, romantic vision of things.

He did this book. It took him, I think, a year.

That was his life.

And he had just finished the book, like, days before we met.

[Robert] My parents were always fighting, and I used to say I'm never getting married.

My father said, "Eh, you'll marry the first one that comes along."

He was right.

Robert always had a sketchbook or two going and -

Nothing - He was constantly drawing.

If we were in a restaurant, he'd draw on the place mat.

If we were on the bus, he'd draw on his bus ticket.

[Robert] I had this big change in 1965 and '66.

And it was visionary, you know.

Very powerful, kind of "knock you on your ass" kind of visionary experience.

This is my sketchbook for 1966 that covers that period.

I took this very weird drug.

Supposedly it was L.S.D., but it had a really weird effect... where it made my brain all fuzzy.

This effect lasted for a couple of months.

I started getting these images, these kind of cartoon characters like this... that I'd never drawn before, with these big shoes and everything.

I let go of trying to have anything like a coherent, fixed idea about what I was doing... and I started being able to draw these stream-of-consciousness comic strips.

Just kind of making up stuff.

It didn't have to make any sense. It could be - It could be stupid.

It didn't make any difference.

All the characters that I used for the next several years, I thought up - all came to me during this period.

These things fit into this vision I was having.

It was a revelation of some seamy side of America's subconscious.

I remember, when I was drawing this, there was this young girl there.

She was like, "Oh, isn't that cute!"

And to me, it was all like a horror show, this whole thing.

And she just thought it was really cute and happy-looking.

To me, it was just, like, a drawing of the horror of America.


[Robert] There were all these hippie underground papers starting up in '66, '67.

Every town had one or two of 'em.

They would print anything if it was related to the psychedelic experience or the hippie ethic.

So I started submitting some of these L.S.D.-inspired comics... that I had been doing in my sketchbooks to these papers, and they liked them.

Then this guy came along who suggested I do a whole issue of his paper.

It was called Yarrowstalks. So I did that, and that went over big.

Then he said, "Why don't you just do psychedelic comic books?

And I'll publish them for you."

So I set to work, and I did two whole issues of Zap Comix.


Crumb was incredibly exciting and incredibly hot.

There were just really a handful of us... doing this - this new form of comics.

And what he was doing was just more innovative... than what any of us had even thought of.

[Dana] It was fun to be a part of that and to see Zap suddenly everywhere... from this concept of Robert's, this fantasy of doing his own comic book... with a glossy cover and actually printed... to seeing it start turning up in all the windows on Haight Street, windows around town... hearing people talk about it... having the other artists show up at a certain point and wanting to be a part of it.

It happened very quickly.

It seems to me, in retrospect, it happened in a matter of weeks.

[No Audible Dialogue]

[Man] Crumb generously gave the ownership of Zap... to all the artists.

Basically, there was no editor.

There was a certain point where it seemed... as though underground comics... could kind of get into the big time... and Crumb almost seemed reluctant to push that sort of thing.

They were offering him 100,000 bucks... just off the top of the bat... just to start talking.

Robert turned it down in two seconds. Actually, he turned it down.

Aline screamed in the background, "What are you doing, Robert? We need money."

Forget it. I'm not going on Saturday Night Live.

The Rolling Stones wanted me to do an album cover.

There was a couple other deals like that. I just don't know.

This is not something you see every day in America... where selling out is kind of everybody's ambition.

After about a year of recognition and all the bullshit of fame and all that...

I just said fuck it.

And I started drawing the dark part of myself again in the comics... which I'd always kept hidden before.

I was used to what he had been doing... which was really quite sweet.

Then he did this one that was just incredibly hostile to women... very sexually hostile.

I wasn't expecting it, and it was really -

I was really shocked and just taken aback.

And really just kind of like - whack!

It's hard for me to believe... that he can't just channel himself into doing better work.

[Woman] I like a lot of his work, and certainly I don't miss the satirical aspect of it.

Then I find myself having... a completely different reaction... perhaps one of being really turned off... and disgusted.

And you know, this - this cartoon, Joe Blow... is one that I thought about, um, a lot in that light.

On the one hand, it's a satire of a 1950s - the healthy facade of the American family.

And it kind of exposes the sickness under the surface.

But at the same time, you sense that Crumb is getting off on it himself in some other way.

And on another level, it's an orgy.

It's a self-indulgent orgy, um, in a fantasy.

And the fantasy- Specifically, this story is a story about a father... who commands his daughter to give him a blow job.

And she does, and they wind up having sex.

And the little sort of Leave It to Beaver type brother character comes running in... and sees the father and his sister, and he's shocked and upset.

He goes running to the mother to tell her.

And Mom comes out of a closet wearing a sort of S-and-M kind of getup.

And the little boy says, "Oh, cool."

The next thing, Mom and son are having sex.

The whole panel ends - The whole cartoon ends with the parents saying...

"Gee, we should spend more time with the kids.” Or something like that. Very funny.

Um, so, you know, you read something like this... and I think that it has gone over the line... from a satire of a 1950s, hygienic... you know, family in denial... into something which is just Crumb producing pornography.

And I think this theme in his work is omnipresent.

It's part of an arrested juvenile vision.

[Hughes] Crumb's material comes out of a deep sense of the absurdity of human life.

At a certain kind of psychic level, there aren't any heroes... there aren't any villains, there aren't any heroines.

And even the victims are comic.

And, um, I think it's this which people in America find rather hard to take... because it conflicts with their basic feelings - that sort of mixture of utopianism on one hand and Puritanism on the other... which is only another kind of utopianism.

Which has given us the kind of messy discourse that we have today.

So, naturally, Crumb, like all great satirists, is something of an outsider in his own country.


♪♪ [Boom Box] ♪ Females on my tip, and it ain't funny ♪

♪ Why ♪ ♪ I don't know, probably 'cause I got money♪

♪ Don't want me Just want my riches ♪

♪ Things like that keep stitches on my britches ♪

♪ I wear all 501 s ♪

♪ Many wear Adidas but I have none ♪

♪ Filas, I'm coolin' ♪♪


[Vehicle Engine Revving]

[Tires Screeching]


[No Audible Dialogue]


♪♪ [Rap Continues]

[Robert] Jesus! This fucking raging... epithet music coming out of every car, every store... every person's head.

If they don't have noisy radios, they got earphones on, like...

"Motherfuckin', cock-suckin' son of a bitch."

That's a lot of aggression. A lot of anger, a lot of rage.

♪♪ [Boom Box] ♪ Just callin' to the motherfuck♪ Everybody walks around - They're walking advertisements.

They've got advertisements on their clothes, you know.

Go walking around with "Adidas" written across their chest... or, you know, "49ers" on their hat.

Jesus. It's pathetic. It's pitiful.

The whole culture's one unified field... of bought, sold, market-researched everything.

It used to be that people fermented their own culture.

It took hundreds of years, and it evolved over time and, you know -

And that's gone in America.

People now don't even have any concept that there ever was a culture... outside of this thing that's created to make money.

Whatever's the biggest, latest thing, they're into it, you know?

You just get disgusted after a while with humanity... for not having more, kind of like... you know, intellectual curiosity... about what's behind all this jive bullshit.

[Woman Chuckles]

Charles and I talk quite a bit about things.

[Charles] We don't really talk that much. Yeah, we do.

We hold aloof from each other for the most part.

You spend all your time down here watching television... and doing your crossword puzzles.

I don't watch television all the time. I spend most of my time in my room reading books.

I turn it on because it puts me to sleep.

It's a good way to get to sleep.

We're two recluses living in the same house.

I wake up at 3:00 in the morning, and it's still on.

You do most of the talking in the relationship, Mother.

There's no doubt about that.

You told me that even though you take those medications... that you still feel nervous and depressed sometimes.

Yeah, but not as much as I would if I wasn't taking the medication.

[Chuckling] Jesus.

What do you think would happen if you stopped taking that stuff?

I don't know. I tried it a couple of times... and I didn't like what was starting to happen to me.

Jesus. He gets insomnia.

I felt as if I were becoming gradually unhinged.

Oh, man. So I got back on them again in a big hurry.

[Laughing]

I tried this a couple of times - about two or three times.

Do you still think they're picking my brain, Mother?

Yeah.

[Sighing] Oh.

You have nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of.

You're a good - He's a good person.

People like Charles. No, I mean - You know.

Some people like me, and some don't.

I'm a very quiet, well-behaved citizen.

I've gone from one extreme to the other. You've gone in a complete circle.

[Robert] You used to make trouble on the streets.

One of the last times I went out with you, we were walking around... and you just went up to some old lady on the street... and started, like, drilling her about her spiritual life.

And she just got really frightened and threatened to call the police.

Charles goes up to these strangers on the streets and starts raving at them.

He was just a kid having fun. That's all.

This was when he was about 30. No, he wasn't!

He's still doing that kind of stuff, but now he doesn't even leave the house anymore.

He always got in trouble whenever he went out. No, he didn't.

Will you give me one good reason for leaving the house?

At least he's not out taking illegal drugs or selling illegal drugs.

No, he's taking legal drugs. I'm taking legal dope.

Or being married and making some woman miserable.

[Robert] This is true. This is true.

[Mother] One thing that kind of runs - I spent all this money.

And he's got these $200 teeth upstairs, and he won't wear them.

They're too uncomfortable. They are at first.

You gotta kind of leave them in there. After a bit, you don't even know they're there.

What does he need 'em for? I never go anywhere. I never see anybody.

What does he need 'em for - to chew food, or what?

Just pride in his own appearance.

He never goes out. What does he care what he looks like?

I take a bath about once in six weeks.

[Mother] I believe in having a certain pride in yourself - in a way not that your ego gets out of hand or you're an egomaniac -

Pride can't exist except in relation to other people.

[Robert] Yeah. That's right.

I don't know. Your hygiene habits are pretty good.

You're not - You have -

I'm never constipated. That's about all I can say for myself.

[All Laughing]

[Mother] Oh, Charles.

That's something. You don't have hemorrhoids? That's a lot, you know.

He doesn't have hemorrhoids. You're doing good.

Your father used to have trouble that way, with constipation.

With the bowels, yeah. He was constipated all the time.

[Laughing] You were really obsessed with -

I could say something, but I won't.

When we were kids, you were always giving us castor oil.

You were obsessed with constipation.

When all you kids were real little, I used to have to take care of you by myself.

Remember that period where you tried giving us all enemas?

That didn't work out too good. I never gave you any enemas.

Somebody -

You would always threaten to give us enemas if we didn't behave properly.

No, I did not. Somebody tried to give me an enema. I don't know who it was.

[Robert] She wouldn't admit it, but - [Woman] The house is weird?

It's not just a regular suburban house?

It's a suburban house that's, like, you know - looks like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane or something.

What do you mean? She has weird trinkets around?

She has weird blankets on the walls. She has cats.

The whole place smells like pee and everything.

Don't say that on the film.

She doesn't want people in the house. Oh.

The next thing my mother knows is this whole crew is filing in the door.

She says, "Oh, no. No pictures! No pictures. No way, Jose," she says.

[Laughing]

Terry says, "No, no. We're just going upstairs. We're gonna do it up in Charles's room."

Of course, naturally, then she got into it, and after a while, you couldn't even shut her up.

She just talked on and on. She chattered on and on. It was awful.

Let's see. What year is this? 1970. '70. I'd just met you.

This is when I first met you in 1969. That's me. I remember that.

This doesn't look like me. You're right. It's not good. Let me touch it up.

The nose is too bulbous. The eyes are too far apart also.

Uh-huh.

It's too late now, really. This was 18 years ago.

God, it just - How about this drawing of you?

I remember we were in this restaurant.

[Furniture Clattering] This is ridiculous. Oh, God!

[Woman] I'm still rolling. She almost fell off the roof.

But she can't see the notebook. That's me?

I look like - That's you with your hair dryer.

[Both Laughing]

There's Terry. [Laughing]

That's me. I like that drawing.

That's one of the few drawings I liked. This is what you said.

So you're going to sell these books, and I don't get a percentage?

Yeah. This whole case of sketchbooks here...

I'm giving to this guy for a house in France.

I had a lot of drawings here. What do I get out of this?

What drawings? Several. I drew that.

No, Aline drew those. You sure?

Yes.

I drew that. No, Aline drew those.

Really?

That's Aline when I first knew her.

You went from this page, where I was on it... and, like, two pages later, it's Aline?

How did that happen? It was a crazy period.

That's disgusting. [Laughing]

Horrible.

That's you, and that's Aline.

Oh, Jesus. You really, really hated women then.

You think it's improved, um, since then?

Yeah. I hate them a little bit less now.

[All Chattering]

[Robert] Guys like me, I like certain kinds of women's legs.

I'm not masochistic. [Woman] But you don't like feet.

You're not heavily into feet. I'm not fixated on feet, but I can get into it.

I can - You know, I can have an orgasm... in playing with someone's foot, but - [Laughs]

It's not just, you know, a real narrow fixation or anything.

[Chattering]

It's just that the way the mind of the person who's interested in legs and feet... is very different from the mind of the person who's interested in breasts.

Breast men tend to be aggressive, outgoing, athletic.

Whereas people who like the lower body - [Robert] She's so frightening.

She has all these types. She's got 'em all categorized.

People who like the lower body tend to be frightened, introverted.

It all has to do with being down on the floor when you were a scared little child... and looking up at that big tower of Mommy.

What's down there? The feet and the legs. That's where the security is.

Women go around feeling victimized by men all the time.

They feel like the men have the power... and the area where women can take the power from men is through sex.

Men - because they have that fetishistic twist to their minds... because they have that ability to concentrate on one thing to the exclusion of all else - can really be manipulated sexually, where women are not as susceptible.

You are so frightening. Jesus!

Women are susceptible to power. That's what I find.

Any display of power and - "Oh, he's so interesting!

"Gee, who's that man over there who's being so obnoxious and arrogant?

Hmm. He's so interesting."

I'm a career pornographer.

I've been at it for 16 years.

And it was really, I think... what I was always destined for.

I always loved pornography.

[Chattering]

I took my birthday money when I turned 18 - 'cause I was now legal - and went to the adult bookstore and bought pornography.

I went along through some other jobs, but I always sexualized 'em... so finding pornography was just right.

I'm the editor of Jugs, Leg Show and Bust Out right now.

I was also the creator of Big Butt magazine.

We've arranged with Robert to do a photo shoot today... which will appear in Leg Show magazine.

We're going to have four or five women who we think Robert will like... but there's never any telling with Robert Crumb.

Here's a girl I wish I could've gotten for the Crumb shoot.

This is a mother-daughter dominance team from out in L.A.

"Mother taught me to smother" is this girl's motto.

We're doing this for the Christmas issue. The mother's wearing a little red outfit.

As you can see, we wanted them to do something festive.

♪♪ [Band: Ragtime] [No Audible Dialogue During Montage]


♪♪ [Ends]

He's definitely a person that would rather be a brain in a jar than a person in a body.

He's, like - So, basically, we both focus on my body sexually.

You know, Robert's not too oriented towards, uh, normal sex... so there wasn't much in the way of normal sex in our relationship.

But lots of piggyback rides and, uh, wrestling around... and he liked to sit on my shoe a lot.

He never takes his shirt off.

He just likes to sort of, like, you know, not exist.

[Hanson] Robert is an admitted compulsive masturbator.

He masturbates four, five times a day.

He has told me that he masturbates to his own comics.

I'm sure Picasso did. Um -

I think probably, um -

Yeah, I think probably some do.

But I don't think that many artists... give you such a wide range of masturbatory possibility as Crumb, you know?

That is, if you like what he likes.

Does he actually do that?

Robert doesn't exaggerate anything in his comics.

The women are exactly the way he wants them... and he really accurately portrays himself... as the skinny, bad posture, myopic man he is.

Some people wonder if he doesn't exaggerate the size of his penis... which always appears awfully big in the comics.

Robert does not exaggerate anything.

He is endowed with one of the biggest penises in the world.

Why do I have my particular sexual proclivities?

I don't know.

Ask a psychiatrist. I don't know what it's about.

Well, the thing about Robert is...

I think I always just thought he was kidding about them, that he was trying -

You thought I was kidding? I mean, I -

That he was trying to be funny, and -

Yeah, that's right, Kathy.

I couldn't imagine how anyone could really be serious about these things. You weren't laughing.

What do you think? It was just complete chaos, this relationship.

I mean, the crying and all the fighting started pretty soon actually.

I think you cried, like, the third time I'd been with you, or something.

Well, what's so horrible about crying? Why - Why is that so painful to you?

I think, oh, my God. What am I - How can I deal with it? What should I do?

She's crying. I don't know what to do.

So what you're saying is, 20 years later, you still had no idea... what you were doing that could've contributed to that?

No, I guess I don't. [Laughing]

It was confusing because he was totally irresponsible.

Well. He would call me up and say...

"I love you. I miss you. I can't wait to see you."

And then this was - He was supposed to be 200 miles away.

He said, "I'll see you in a week or two."

And then I'd go out to buy some groceries two hours later... and I'd see him with another woman.

And then he'd wonder why I kicked him or got mad.

Do you think I'm sadistic? Yeah - [Chuckles]

Ow!

Yeah, I think he - he would always, um, you know, act... like he was passively a victim.

I used to call it his Ashley Wilkes routine... that he would pull - [Laughing] where he was just this passive victim of circumstance, you know... in other people's desires... when really he was just trying to get away with whatever he could get away with... and walking all over people.

I walked all over people? Like who? Like you?

You think that you were a good guy, you were a nice boyfriend to me at the time.

I think maybe I'm just not a very romantic person. That's all.

I've never been, like - I don't think I've ever actually, if I really think about it... ever been in love, you know.

Oh, I have many letters where you said "I love you" hundreds of times.

Yeah, I was just abusing the word, you know. [Laughs]

I had this overpowering - I'm leaving.

No, I - I was very fond of you. [Kick Lands]

Ouch!

I was very fond of you... and I certainly had the most overpowering lust for you that you could possibly imagine... but I wouldn't say that I was in love.

I just don't - don't have it in me.

I've never been in love with any woman, never been jealous. That's horrible.

The only woman I've ever been in love with is Sophie, basically, my darling daughter.

[Beeping] Hey.

[Beeping] Hey.

You made me mess up. You provoked me.

Look out. Yeah! [Gasps]

[Sighs] [Imitates Squeak]

[Beeping]

[Robert Imitates Shooting Sound]

I did a bunch of books in the early '70s that were really self-deprecating.

My self-hatred was really intense then.

Did you ever see this one? This one's Twisted Sisters.

Nice cover. I show myself on the toilet.

[Laughs] It got no recognition. Nobody bought it.

I asked the publisher, you know, how it was doing.

He said he was using it for insulation in the walls of his barn.

[Zwigoff] What's the gist of your comics? What are they like?

They're all about me - my sex life, my phobias... you know, what a disgusting human being I think I am.

You know, I hope - But your mother's featured in it a lot too.

Yeah. Yeah. It's the way I can tolerate my mother - is by drawing really hideous drawings of her... like - like this, for example.

[Laughing] This is after Sophie was born. My mother came to visit me.

She was so irritating and so unhelpful.

She just talks about how she couldn't hold the baby 'cause she'd just had her nails wrapped.

My mother yells really loud in the restaurant, "Got any Sweet'N Low, dear?"

[Laughs] A real quiet sort of fern-bar restaurant in San Francisco.

And every single person turned around to look, you know?

She came to the airport with an Afro, dressed up to the minute in this completely trendy outfit.

And Robert and I looked like immigrants just off the boat.

[Zwigoff] That's your father there in the middle, on the bottom there?

That's my mother's husband, yeah. She had him dressed in a leisure suit.

When she first met him, he used to wear, like, baggy brown suits... and he had, like, short hair, and he was kind of fat.

And she put him on a diet and put him in, like, safari outfits... and made him grow sideburns.

But he was still real schlubby.

He had, like, schlubby posture and everything, but he was real trendily dressed.

And kind of follow along after her like that.

What does she think about your comics? She doesn't see them.

She also - She's not interested. She never asked to see them? She doesn't know you're a cartoonist?

No, unconsciously, she must know there's some things she doesn't want to know about.

And the other thing is that she doesn't really take in very much about anybody anyway.

She's not too interested.

She came here and she saw this painting and a bunch of other paintings around... and she said, "Those are nice paintings. Who did them?"

I said, "I did." She said, "I didn't know you painted."

I mean, she sent me to art school.

She just changed the subject. "What are we having for dinner?"

[Robert] One thing you've obviously already learned is the importance of black.

That's good. Thanks, Pop.

Okay, okay. Enough. [Laughs]

[Jesse] So why this figure? Why'd you choose this one in particular?

I like these photos. They're powerful photos for some reason.

This one was easy to draw too, I felt. Right.

But I only pick the attractive ones. I didn't do the -

Some of them are ugly, you know. Her - she's a mess.

I know. She is, yeah.

[Robert] The text talks about her being, like, an alcoholic reprobate.

They picked her up off the street, threw her -

This one - Oh, God! [Jesse Laughs]

Really a monster. Eeh.

See, in my drawing of her, I made her cuter than she really is... because I acquired the cuteness curse when I worked at American Greetings... which I can't shake. You see that?

You got the tilt of her head right.

I just noticed that. That's hard. That's hard to do.

You have to really, you know - Actually, the proportions of this to this.

You know, is that the same, or is it shorter?

I did a lot of erasing in pencil at first.

[Chair Scraping On Floor]

What you haven't learned yet is how to cheat, though, to get the desired effect that you want.

Like what - draw over the top of a Xerox or something?

Well - I mean, what you want is, like, capture a certain thing about this woman's face.

A certain defiance or whatever it is you see in there.

Yeah, I didn't get it.

Exaggerate those little things that give her that look, you know.

Like the way her teeth are slightly showing, like she's got a slight sneer, you know.

I sort of try to do that, but it's hard with pencil.

Just exaggerate it a little bit. You know, cheat it a little bit.

Like the tilt of the head and the sneer, you would just make, you know - emphasize that.

You kind of almost have to do it consciously - make a decision of what you want to bring out in this person's face.

I did that here, but it still didn't work out.

[Robert] Well, it's very subtle in that photo. It's very, very subtle.

My drawing doesn't capture the hate.

[Jesse] It kind of does in a way. You've got the open mouth.

That's sort of the key to the whole thing. That sneer, you know?

Baring the teeth. Yeah. That's key.

You know they obviously ordered her to sit down and don't move.

They're gonna take her picture, and just, you know - "Sit there."

You can see that she really doesn't like it.

It'd be good, actually, if you could take life drawing. I think that'd be really -

You didn't go to art school, and look, you're rich and famous.

[Laughs] Geez.

We're not talking about rich and famous. We're talking about learning how to draw.

A lot of my recent works appear in this Weirdo magazine.

These are the kind of guys who read my work.

It's kind of an ode to the Weirdo reader there - the hurt, sensitive kind of guy who doesn't fit in with the normal people.

Like these people back here.

She's saying, "I always hated the Three Stooges."

Of course, he loves the Three Stooges. [Laughs]

This is my source material here.

I couldn't find any pictures in magazines of ordinary, modern... street scenes in America... so I persuaded this guy that I know in Sacramento... to spend a day with me driving around -

'cause I don't drive, so couldn't get around and do it myself - just to take snapshots of ordinary street corners in modern America.

This has been indispensable to me.

You can't remember these things... to draw these modern light poles and all this crap... all this junk that's on every suburban street.

I've used it in a lot of places.

It's background here. Stuff like that.

All this back here. In my story in here, I used it also.

This whole background, all this stuff, I put it right over here.

You can't make up this crap. You know, it's too complicated.

On this cover here, I used a bunch of photos to take that stuff.

In the real world, this stuff is not created to be visually pleasing.

It's just accumulation of the modern industrial world.

People don't even notice. They block it out.

♪♪ [Piano Notes]

[Robert] How about if you play that?

♪♪ [Playing Song]

[Aline] Robert and Sophie, come on. Dinner's ready.

Okay. Hurry up.

[Water Running] [Laughing]

Oh! Go sit down. Get out of here.

Who, me? No, her.

She's helping me.

[Robert] Now she's break-dancing. Get out of here.

Come on, Soph. Come over here and get your plate.

How's that?

Okay, then - Give me the gum. I'll trade you the gum for the plate.

♪♪ [Ηumming]

Gotta have my starch and my fat.

[Sophie] ♪ Whoopee-dee-doo ♪ Ew. Look at all this food.

[Man Announcing] It's fun to eat supper with your family -

[Man Announcing] It's fun to eat supper with your family - especially when there is good food on the table.

Chuck, at least you could manage to be on time.

Your mother goes to all the trouble to prepare a fine meal.

It's - It's only common courtesy, Chuck.

I know, but I couldn't help it. I was late home from school.

[Robert] Once I reached adolescence, it was the late '50s... and everybody I knew, their families had nothing to do with the advertisement for itself... that the culture was presenting on the TV screen.

Why not?

Do I have to have a reason? But all your friends will be there.

[Muffled] I don't care. I'm not - Chuck! Don't talk with your mouth full.

[Man Announcing] Chew your food well. Chew and chew.

Doesn't it taste extra good that way?

[Robert] The whole thing was just a big false front... that was just suffocating and so dreary and depressing.

Okay, they grew up in the depression. All right, all right. I understand.

They went through the war, and they just wanted this thing that was so tight and unthreatening and flat.

And they wanted a dull lifestyle.

So they wanted Perry Como... and this Ozzie and Harriet shell that we grew up in.

The whole thing had this kind of creepy, nightmarish, grotesque quality to it.

This here is the first issue of Zap Comix... that I did in late 1967.

It was, like, you know, the beginning of all this underground comic nonsense.

It was all very L.S.D. inspired.

And a lot of these are things I redrew from sketchbooks.

This Whiteman character.

A lot of this stuff, I didn't realize when I was doing it... what it was really about or, you know, what it was connected to in my mind.

And I realized afterwards, this is really about my father.

This rigid, kind of, uh... gung-ho American kind of a guy.

But you know, it's a typical World War II generation man.

When my father died in '82... my aunt gave me all the stuff that my father had sent her over the years.

One of the things was this book that he wrote, Training People Effectively.

So - I'm not sure what he did for a living in the last years of his life.

It had something to do with, you know, employee motivation... for this corporation that he worked for.

Here's a photo. [Chuckles]

I was reading recently about this syndrome in Japan now that Japanese businessmen have.

It's something about some smiling disease... where they have this, like, fixed smile on their face all the time.

I think my father had that.

The article said it was a sign of deep depression.

[Laughing] He didn't smile when he was home.

The smile dropped as soon as he came home.

He was a grim guy. He fought in the war and everything.

He just had a real hard-ass attitude about life... and thought that my mother was mollycoddling all of us, which she was.

All three of his sons ended up being wimpy, nerdy weirdos.

It kind of broke his heart, I think. He wanted at least one of us to become a marine.

My father was real hotheaded, and he'd just blow his stack... and just lash out and just hit you real hard.

When I was five years old, on Christmas, he - This whole thing happened... where he blew his stack at me, and that's when he busted my collarbone.

[Zwigoff] When you were five? Yeah.

I think Charles had a penchant for getting in trouble.

He was very diabolical as a kid.

And my father would, like, beat him unmercifully... for these things that he was always do - these crimes he was always committing.

It just made him worse, I think.

I had this subconscious desire to be punished. [Zwigoff] Why?

I don't know. I think it had something to do with the old man.

I think it had something to do with my being brought up by a sadistic bully.

[Laughing]

I know there's some connection there between the two of them... although I'm not really sure what it is.

[Zwigoff] What was your mom like when you were a kid?

[Charles] She was an amphetamine addict... and these amphetamines would make her act real crazy... and do and say all these really crazy things.

It had an absolutely devastating effect, I think, on all five of us kids.

Do you? Yeah.

It certainly had a devastating effect on me anyway.

[Zwigoff] How did your parents get along?

They got along fairly well up until the time I was nine or 10 years old.

But after that, when Beattie started taking amphetamines to keep her weight down... they had a terrible time.

They were screaming and yelling at each other all the time - morning, noon and night.

[Robert] She'd scratch at the old man's face. It was an absolute nightmare.

Till it looked like ground hamburger.

He used to put makeup on when he went to work... in an attempt to cover up the scratches on his face.

The old man came to me one afternoon and said...

"If you don't go out and get a job, Charles, I'm gonna make your life a hell on earth."

[Laughing]

And that's exactly what he started to do - he started to make my life a hell on earth.

So to get him off my back, I took up this job as a telephone solicitor... for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The reason I stuck it out for a whole year... is because I was afraid of what the old man might do to me if I didn't.

[Robert] That's the last time you held a job though, right?

Yeah, and it only lasted for about a year.

That was back in '69.

[Robert] The old man was always trying to make productive citizens out of us.

Even when I was a teenager, he forced me to use my drawing talent... to go out and draw pictures of houses... and then ask the people if they wanted to buy the pictures.

That was mainly the old man's idea, wasn't it? It was completely his idea.

He made me do it. He told me I had to do it.

It was a hateful job. [Laughing]

When I first got well known, he was kind of proud of me.

You know, he heard that I was getting well known for my work, but he never saw it.

I never - I don't think he would've approved of your work.

Finally somebody - He would've disapproved of it on so-called moral grounds.

Somebody told me that someone at work showed him one of my comics... and that's when he stopped talking to me.

He wouldn't speak to me after that, after he actually saw some of that stuff I was doing in the early '70s.

The story in here I had most trouble with is this one, "A Bitchin' Bod!"

I got two pages into it and I thought, "Oh, this is just too -

"This is too negative, it's too twisted, it's too upsetting.

I gotta stop this."

So I quit working on it, and I threw the pages in the garbage can.

And at some point, Aline came into my studio for something... and I decided, well, I'll show her this and see what she thinks about it.

So I pulled 'em out of the garbage can, and I said, "Aline, this thing -

"What do you think about this? I threw it away.

I decided I didn't want to continue it. It's just too weird. It's just too disturbing."

She read it and said, "You have to finish this.

You just have to do it, obviously. You've got to see this through."

I said, "Well, okay, she's a woman. She said I have to do it, so I'll do it."

So Flakey Foont answers the door, and there's this girl's body standing there.

But what you see is Mr. Natural's head and his beard... over the front of her where her head should be.

That's how it starts.

Flakey Foont, he's very confused by that.

And, uh, Mr. Natural comes galloping in... riding the girl around the room.

Her body's very frisky, and you don't see her head at all.

You just see Mr. Natural's beard over where her head should be.

Then she lands in a split... and, uh, Mr. Natural starts talking about what an amazing body this woman has.

But the head was always a problem...

'cause she had such an obnoxious personality.

Flakey Foont is shocked and horrified... when he sees that she actually doesn't have a head.

And - [Chuckling]

Mr. Natural explains, "Let's face it. She was obnoxious, so I just got rid of the head.

"You always wanted her, you always lusted after her.

Now you can have her because her head's missing."

Then he starts explaining how he took the head off... and topped the neck with this little cap... and that he - Mr. Natural says he found out - he discovered that there was - that she had a second, smaller brain in her butt -

[Chuckling] and that that's what's making the body function.

And then he gives Foont directions on how to feed her.

You take this cap off, and you put this funnel down her neck.

Mr. Natural pulls out this mannequin head and says...

"If you take her outside, you got to put this head on her... so people aren't shocked and horrified by a headless girl walking around."

And then Mr. Natural leaves and says, "Don't say I never did anything for you."

He gives the girl to Foont, and Foont's kind of getting excited.

He's got this frisky, wondrous girl body all to himself... to do with whatever he wants.

He says, "I like it better with just the cap." He knocks the fake head off.

He's leading her over to the wall... and she accidentally steps on the fake head and smashes it.

He pushes her against the wall, pulls her clothes off... and he's admiring her firm and solid butt.

This is the part where I get excited when I'm working on it.

I really enjoy drawing the female form.

I always make a lot of fuss and bother... to make sure the figure comes out just the way I want it.

The males, I don't care what they look like that much.

So he starts to fuck her.

He penetrates her from behind, and he's getting really excited.

At the same time, he feels somewhat guilty.

And then he's - While he's in the middle of coming... he imagines her severed head... and then her face condemning him.

She says, "You little shit!" [Laughing]

Cut to Mr. Natural. He's home, phone's ringing.

He's saying, "Well, I got home an hour ago." Yeah, it's Foont.

Yeah, he's feeling guilty.

Foont wants to bring her back over. He wants to get rid of her. He can't handle it.

So Mr. Natural says, "Okay, bring her over."

He says, "Make sure you put the head back on before you take her outside."

So he goes to get the head, and he realizes it's been smashed.

He doesn't know what to do.

Actually, a lot of these poses in these panels...

I took from freeze-framing the Fly Girls on In Living Color.

[Chuckles]

So he ties up a T-shirt into a ball and puts it on top of the cap.

Then he puts a hat on.

He pushes her in the car.

Then we cut to Mr. Natural's house.

Mr. Natural's saying he's going to regret it if he doesn't keep her.

But Mr. Natural says, "All right. Forget it. Forget it. We'll put the head back."

Mr. Natural unscrews the clamp, pulls this pipe out of her.

Then he reaches in there.

This is probably the most sickening, disturbing panel in the whole story.

Aline says this is the most disturbing part of the whole thing.

He's pulling real hard, and he pulls her head back out by her tongue.

Her head was actually inside her body all the time.

Again, Foont is very shocked, but then he's relieved that her head is back.

Mr. Natural says, "Yeah, old African witch doctor stuff. Nothing special."

And she just says, "That was so weird!"

Mr. Natural says, "Yep."

Then they both realize the head's back, the trouble's back.

She says, what happened to her and what did Mr. Natural do to her... and where does he get his crazy ideas?

At this point, Foont, he feels so guilty, he starts apologizing to the devil girl... for having, like, done the deed to her when she didn't have her head.

She says, "What are you saying?"

She suddenly realizes that Mr. Natural had handed her over to Foont for him to play with.

She says, "You gave me to that shmuck to play with as if I was a piece of meat?"

He says, "Aw, what the hell's the difference?" [Chuckling]

So he tries to get away, and she's chasing him.

In the end, she's raging with anger and she says...

"Where's a butcher knife? I'm going to cut both your heads off!"

Typical comic book ending. [Chuckles]

I see a - a theme running through his work... that - that is very frightening... and it's the woman with her head either cut off or somehow distorted - something done to it so that nothing is left but the body.

And the body, of course, you can have sex with.

When, for instance, Crumb draws... that little monster, Mr. Natural... doing things that you or I would not normally contemplate doing with a headless woman... in that the, uh -

It is not intended, I imagine, to be a sort of apologia for beheading... or an apologia for rape or anything like that, no.

But it is an acknowledgement that these kinds of fantasy... actually do dwell in Homo sapiens - they're there.

I'm saying that it's very irresponsible... to put dangerous sexual fantasies... on paper... and make them available to the public.

It's important for women to not just run in horror from pornographic images... and immediately think that they represent oppression... and the power of men to degrade women... and to think, sometimes, about the fact that they often are -

They're fantasies of having power.

They're fantasies of being able to dominate, um... that come out of a fear of precisely the opposite - fear of not being able to be attractive to women.

Impotence fears.

And, uh, fears of powerlessness in general.

[Zwigoff] How do you feel about the way he depicts women in his comics?

Well, he just depicts his id in its pure form, I think.

You know, the dark side of human nature is in every person.

That's what I was drawn to in his work to begin with - that he just, like, really could illustrate that really clearly.

It's really unusual to see it. I think it's always there, you know?

Does any of that bother you? No, he's really -

He's not like that in other ways, as a person.

He gets it out in his artwork. I mean - He fools around with other women.

How do you deal with that? I fool around with other men.

I have these hostilities toward women. I admit it.

I'm - It's out in the open. I have to put it out there, you know?

Sometimes I think it's a mistake. I should never have let it out.

I'd be, you know, more well-loved, and I'd be just -

The whole thing would be a lot simpler and easier and cleaner if I didn't let it out.

But it's in there, and - and it's very strong... and it ruthlessly puts - forces itself out of me onto the paper, you know... for better or worse.

When I was, um, about nine or 10, my brother used to collect Zap Comix.

And when I saw those, they really deeply, deeply terrified me.

Oh, Jesus. Oh! [Laughing]

I was deeply upset, and I looked at them and thought, you know, on some level...

"This is what I - This is adulthood? This is what adult women are?

This is what I grow up into?"

And it was horrifying. Oh, my God.

And I wonder if you think about the effect on people who read it... or what you're validating for boys, or-

I just hope that-that somehow revealing that truth about myself is somehow helpful.

I don't know. I just hope that it is. But I have to do it.

Maybe - Maybe I shouldn't be allowed.

Maybe I should be locked up and my pencils taken away from me.

I just don't know. I really can't say, you know?

I can't defend myself.

You know, like, my daughter Sophie was watching Goodfellas.

We bought a videotape of it.

The violent part horrified her so deeply, she started getting a stomachache.

I shut it off, wouldn't let her watch it.

Although I think it's a great movie, truthful movie.

I got a lot out of seeing it. It's obviously not for a kid, you know.

Sometimes, you know, certain harsh realities of life are -

You know, you've got to kind of protect your kids a little bit from that.

They don't understand a lot of things yet. Not everything's for children.

Not everything's for everybody, you know.

[Zwigoff] Have you gotten criticism about the way you sometimes draw black people?

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. But it all came from white liberals.

[English] Here's an example of the kind of thing I'm talking about in "Ooga Booga."

It's actually a mockery of black people.

It's sort of a vomiting up of Crumb's own racism... his own deepest, um, hostilities and fears.

Of course, if you have a knee-jerk reaction, and that's as far as you get... then you say he's a racist.

But once you start thinking about how he's toying with that... and how he's shoving it in your face... you start to think about your attitudes... and you start to think about the stereotypes - how they came about.

You know, it gets very complicated.

[Robert] All that stuff I did in the late '60s...

I didn't really know what it was about when I did it.

It was all very instinctive.

Somehow, the L.S.D. liberated me in this way... that allowed me to just put it down and not worry about what it meant.

I had some vague idea that it meant something... but it's only later that I'd look at it and kind of analyze it and see what it's about.

Somehow, the term "nigger hearts" just came into my mind... as a product, you know?

It's like it's some black, deep thing... in American, you know, collective mind or something... that has to do with turning everything over for a buck.

I don't know. I'm not sure exactly, but it has some message like that.

Quite a number of people these days... would like this sort of nice, milky vision of culture... in which it's all rather improving and leads us all towards... this sort of nice little pie-in-the-sky moral heaven... where nobody's nasty to anybody else.

But the only thing is that, you know, literature, culture, art... isn't put there in order to have that pleasant, normative effect.

You know, conservatives like to think that great works of art lead us towards democracy.

Bull, you know.

I mean, there are speeches in Shakespeare that are so full of hatred for the mob.

They're passionately elitist, passionately antidemocratic.

What do you do with somebody like Céline, who was a Nazi sympathizer... but at the same time a great novelist?

What do you do with - Well, what do you do with practically anybody... who's got a vision of the world that doesn't accord with the present standards of Berkeley?

[People Chattering]

[Horn Honking] [Laughter]


[Robert] They're all wearing Raiders and 49ers jackets.

Sophie wants us to get her a 49ers jacket. [Maxon] She does?

[Robert] Why do you want to live in the midst of it?

[Maxon] Like Hamlet, I'm too scared to kill myself.

So you're gonna move to the south of France. You gonna miss all this?

[Robert] I'll be out of here in a couple more months. I can't live in it.

I can't take it. [Engine Revving]

Oh! My God.

They can't wait to have the money to get their hands on this stuff. iAy caramba! iAy caramba!

iAy caramba!

It's a beautiful world.

[Robert] So you gonna finish this one pretty soon?

I don't know. It depends on when I'm gonna have a chance to pick up an oil brush again.

You worked on this recently, right? Uh -

Did you do something to this recently? I don't know when was the last time I painted.

When I was actually working on that, I was actually thinking of Dian Hanson - that portrait of a New York floozy you were running with.

Oh, gosh. [Laughing]

This one here? Yeah. This is a portrait number, you know.

I keep putting things together and watch the paint do stuff.

How come you put that metallic-looking brassiere on her?

It has something to do with her personality was like that.

She has, like, a very hard, armored personality. You know.

And she was a broad underneath it.

I think that she would find that really disturbing - that thing you put on her there.

It actually just reflects the personality - sort of icy, almost crazed expression in the eyes.

But there's, like, a warmth and reluctance in the smile or something.

You know what I mean? Ah. Interesting.

She's in therapy now. She is?

Yeah. She doesn't need therapy.

She fucks too hard. How do you cure that except by death?

Oh! [Laughing]

You start from a blob. When you do ink work, you start from a line.

Somehow, being fixated with -

Like that one over there. And this is also an example of being fixated with line.

I started, like, getting these very detailed -

You can see a very distinct line thing, you know, in the character of it.

[Robert] You're pleased with this when you look at it now?

[Maxon] I like this style a lot.

[Robert] This is Van Gogh shooting himself in a cornfield.

What's the corn? What's that about?

It's like that Walt Whitman line.

"Quintillions ripen'd and the quintillions green."

He was out picking fruit, or picking - He was a transient picker.

He just, like, came to this realization. It was an abundance of the farm thing.

The abundance of plant growth.

He wrote this line. "Quintillions ripen'd and the quintillions green."

The same thing with corn. This is a stylized Van Gogh painting.

Corn has, like, infinite ability, like primal nature.

[Robert] What's with Van Gogh shooting himself?

His mind went to the place where there's this infinite abundance, like in an ear of corn.

He blew his - This is the first oil painting you ever did, isn't it?

Huh? Isn't this the first oil painting you ever did?

That's the first oil I ever did, yeah.

[Robert] You never drew before, and it suddenly just came out.

It was like something was released inside of you. Something like that.

I had that first epileptic fit. It was in the sixth grade.

I was drawing this picture of my face with charcoal in art class. Really?

I said, "Hey, man, you can draw. Look at this." It started working out.

It's the first time I had this artistic experience, you know.

But it was so violent to me that I had a fucking seizure or something.

Ended up in the hospital the next day or something.

This is probably one of the last comic covers Charles ever did.

It might even be the very last one.

His psychotic bunny rabbits. [Chuckles]

In our late teens, I persuaded Charles... that we should send away for the Famous Artists Talent Test.

They used to have these ads in magazines. We each sent away for this test.

I did mine completely legitimately, the way you were supposed to.

But Charles couldn't help himself.

You were supposed to, uh, complete the outline figure by drawing a costume on it.

But he put these pasties on her tits... and then started drawing these weird, psychotic characters in the background.

Psychotic Mickey Mouse.

They had an outline of this barn and this tree.

You were supposed to, you know, draw in textures and surfaces.

They give you suggestions on how to fill in the textures and all that stuff.

That's his interpretation of that. [Chuckling]

And here was your ability to arrange elements in a picture.

They give you objects. You're supposed to make an arrangement.

So he did this and this. [Chuckling]

"Your imagination as an illustrator.

Complete the picture by adding whatever other figures and objects you think are necessary."

So he drew this girl here and this -

A week after this came in the mail, this salesman showed up to grade our tests.

If you got a good grade on the test, then you got the privilege... of paying $400 to take the course.

And he just looked at Charles, and was, like - at Charles's - at what he had done, and he was speechless.

He didn't know what to say.

He told me mine was very good and I had a lot of potential and I should take the course.

But Charles, he wouldn't even speak to him.

He was, uh... pretty far gone at that point already.

This is some of his later work after he - sort of the end of his comic period.

It's from 1961. He's about 18.

He started developing this weird wrinkle technique in his drawing... and it became stranger and stranger.

Had nothing to do with the outside world at all.

Became more and more ingrown in this way.

It had to do with his increasing alienation from the world.

Isolation.

He never went to pen and ink either.

Never got beyond pencil and crayons, you know.

This is some of the last Treasure Island stuff he did.

This is, like, late ‘61.

[Chuckles]

It's sort of beautifully drawn, except the wrinkle stuff really gets out of hand here.

[Laughing] He got more and more obsessed with that.

It gets real dark-lookin'.

He had this fascination with the relationship... between the kid and Long John Silver, the pirate character... which he elaborated on endlessly.

This is one of our two-mans. You can see that he's gradually added more and more text.

More and more - The writing takes over. Look at that.

He just lost interest in drawing... and then he just went to this loony writing.

There's a certain phase of Charles's life that he had this compulsive graphomania.

He did dozens of these notebooks. He gave me a bunch of them.

People kind of found them fascinating. The writing -

This is upside down, though it doesn't make any difference. Really?

[Laughs] I don't know whether it's upside down or right side up.

This is an early one -

It started out, when he first started doing it, it was readable... and then it became gradually less and less readable.

[Charles] What I definitely need is some kind of external stimulation... to sort of rejuvenate me and get me going again.

But I don't know how I'm going to be able to arrange this eventually.

I don't know.

I guess I'll have to start doing that in a mental hospital.

[Robert Laughs]

[Robert] I remember this time we were at Neal's house, and Mary was there.

Mary said, "I'm bored. I'm gonna go take a bath."

So she got up and she went in the bathroom and - and -

I told her not to do it. I told her not to do it.

Maxon's eyes just sort of glazed over, and he got all kind of red.

He just got up as if he was in a trance, and he went and he - he went up to the bathroom.

I said, "What are you doing?" He pushed the bathroom door open.

Mary was standing there naked, and she screamed.

Maxon? She slammed the door.

I said, "Maxon, come away from there." I tried to pull him away from the door.

He was, like, completely in a trance. He pushed the door open again.

Mary yelled again, and then Maxon fell on the floor... and had, like, about an eight-minute seizure.

So what's with these Oriental women that you were into at this phase?

You were particularly attracted to Oriental women.

[Maxon] Yeah, I was, when I first started doing this.

[Robert] When you were in that phase.

[Maxon] The phase of molesting women and getting in trouble with cops and all that stuff.

[Zwigoff] Were you actually raping these women?

No. I didn't get that much into it.

He'd just tweak them on the street and run away.

You've got to do a lot of molesting before you get to rape. But if you do a couple years of molesting, you'll get to rape.

I started molesting when I was, like, 18.

I started with Chinese women for some crazy reason, on subways in Philadelphia.

Then I went through different periods of it, you know.

But I'm out of it. It's kind of like -

I don't know. It's too much passion, it's too much animal.

Didn't they put you in some kind of - in a psycho ward for a few weeks?

For a couple of weeks. Oh, man. Two weeks on Haldol will cure anything.

You'll do anything they tell you after two weeks on Haldol.

[Laughing] For a sensible person, it's just terrible.

You get heavy into molesting, it's a violent thing, like a crime thing.

So I get to the point where I start pulling girls' shorts down.

I'm walking around this certain district by the marina, this little shopping district.

There's this really beautiful Jewish-looking girl... with just, like, obscenely brief shorts on.

She goes into this, uh - [Robert Laughs]

She goes into this drugstore, you know. It's like I'm in a fit.

I gotta do this to this broad. She's just too much, you know.

I gotta do something. I gotta risk my whole life just to do something to this broad.

So I go in there - cold sweat all over the place.

She doesn't know what's - She's just casually looking over some shampoo.

I'm walking around there, trying not to be obtrusive in this cold sweat.

She finally goes up to the counter.

It's like total complete, like, personal struggle... about this moment I gotta pull this risky trip. Oh, my God!

So I walk up behind her while she's paying for this fucking shampoo.

So I grab the bottom of her fuckin' shorts and I just go -

Go all the way down, and her ass pops out like a ripe peach.

Oh, God. "Oh, Jesus Christ!" she says. "There's someone" -

Maybe 15 or 20 years from now, I'll be more willing to talk about it, but not now.

[Robert] I told Maxon about it. I've still got too many scruples.

Did you tell Maxon about them? He just thinks you're putting it on.

Said, Charles confessed to me when we were adults... that there was a while when we were teenagers that he had to stifle the urge... to stick a butcher knife through my heart.

Like, he'd be laying in bed at night... fighting the urge to go down to that kitchen and get a knife out.

Or go down to the basement, get an ax and bash your skull in with it.

I told Maxon this, and he said, "Aah, I don't think so."

He didn't believe it. He thought it was all part of the act. He thinks it's part of an act.

He thinks the whole thing's an act. He thinks my whole mental sickness is an act.

He thinks you've really got it made, that you really have a cushy position in things... because you got the mother's love and he didn't.

That's what he thinks.

He must think I have certain reasons for putting on this act.

What does he think those reasons are?

I don't think he thinks it out too deeply. He's just reacting. He's in a state of reacting.

He still has all this anger and resentment because he wasn't loved by the mother.

I know what the homicidal tendencies stem from now. [Zwigoff] You do?

It stemmed from an excessive degree of narcissism.

It seems to me that all I have to do is overcome this excessive degree of narcissism... and my homicidal tendencies will go away.

[Robert] You still have these tendencies? No, they're pretty well gone by now.

You think it's the drugs, or what?

[Zwigoff] What's the connection between narcissism and the homicidal tendencies?

Well, when narcissism is wounded... it wants to strike back at the person who wounded it.

[Robert] Did I wound your narcissism? Many, many times.

Oh! Oh, God. Many, many times.


Uh, I made this bed of nails 'cause I've developed myself in meditation... to the point where I have to use a bed of nails.

I'm not a very great expert at the nails, so I cover a portion of the nails... with this very thin old bandana so it's not too painful to me.

I have to sort of like regulate the amount of pain that I take with it.

[Robert] How long can you sit on those at a time?

I can sit a couple of hours like this. This is quite easy.

So the cloth sort of cleans your intestines out on the inside.

Or else you might say that it gratifies your intestines.

Every six weeks, very regularly, I have to pass it through my entire body.

And, uh... it takes three days for it to come out the other side.

You don't take the nails out on the street, right?

They're prejudiced against people - like, in the financial district and stuff like that - against someone praying in the street.

You go out with your beggar bowl, like, just about every day?

I do that every day. I do it every day, once a day. It's, like, part of my whole thing.

At a certain time of day, I have to go out and meet the public.

Put the bowl down, lock in and do it. It's your job.

Yeah, it's a job. It's a dirty job.

How long has he had this bed of nails? A couple years.

He sits on it how many times a day? About three or four times a day?

About once a day for a couple hours. Does he ever sleep on it?

No. It's not big enough to sleep on. He just sits on it.

Where did he get this bed of nails? Did he buy it at some store? He made it.

You can't buy a bed of nails. Just a minute. What is it?

What? [Mother] How you holding up?

Not too badly.

[Robert Chuckling]

Remember, Mother, I'm under the influence of medication.

[Laughs]

And that's probably helping me through this thing to a certain extent anyway.

[Zwigoff] When did you start taking medication? About 20 years ago.

If only it would do something about the inner anguish and pain.

Wasn't that after you attempted suicide, you started taking those drugs?

Yeah, I started taking it after one of my suicide attempts.

You drank a bottle of furniture polish. Yeah. That was the first time.

I drank a bottle of furniture polish and took an overdose of sleeping pills.

But then I chickened out at the last minute and went downstairs... and asked my mother to take me to the hospital so I could have my stomach pumped.

Jesus! [Chuckling]

There were about two or three other attempts besides that one.

This morning, you were talking about getting a lobotomy. Jesus Christ.

Yes, well - Why not? Why not?

God. Grim. It's grim.

Charles told me - He confessed to me that when he first saw Treasure Island in 1950... he developed this crush on Bobby Driscoll, and it never went away.

Bobby Driscoll's the kid who plays Jim Hawkins.

And the root of this whole obsession was this kid that was in the movie.

He was drawing this Bobby Driscoll, this kid, you know, endlessly.

And when he told me this, I was shocked.

I had no idea that's what it was about.

I guess it's caused him a lot of torment in his life, you know.

He's never been able to have any real sexual life at all.

He's never had sex.

I don't think any of them got out, Mother. [Mother Chattering]

The other night when she yelled out, "Get the hell out of here!" and I said, "Who's she talking to?" what'd you say?

I said, "She's being pursued by invisible enemies."

Who does she think they are? I don't know exactly.

It's sort of hard to tell. You - You get the residue of her -

[Mother] Charles! What?

Fix that curtain in the hallway. Okay.

Brought the whole thing down. You can't do that. [Robert] The curtain in the hallway.

♪♪ [Orchestra: Dramatic]

[Gunshot]

♪♪ [Continues]

[Clanging] [Whistling]

[Sophie] Come here. What?

Come here.

[Jesse] Let me see that there, please?

Thanks.

Let me show you the -

I did that one, and I did that one.

That looks good. Let me show you what one it is.

Dad. [Squeaks]

This is my character, Dad.

That's your character? Yeah, yeah.

What are biscuit teeth? Her dog!

Biscuit Teeth.

That's her dog? Yeah!

It's good the way it is.

Give me a break. There. Isn’t that a lot better? Look.

Much better.

Everything has to be black and white. Everything has to be old-fashioned.

[Laughing] No. It just looks better like that.

The old man, I think, took off pretty much for good... when I was probably, I don't know, five or six years old, I guess.

I can't really remember that period of time very well... but I didn't really see him too regularly after that.

You know, he was over here, really, for the most part. Madison, Dixon.

Kind of gone most of the time.

He has sort of - I think he has sort of a hard time emotionally.

You know, like he can't - I'll -

Sometimes I'll just feel like I want to express affection to the old man, you know.

Like I feel like I want to put my arm around him or shake his hand or something... or get close in some way.

He can't do it, you know? He can't do that.

How tight? Uh, pretty tight.

Like that kind of thing?

What a disaster this is, taking these records out.

I was planning just to live here till I died. [Laughs]

I didn't want to move out of this place and move all these damn records.

[Jesse] That'll teach you to have a hobby.

Jesus. Be careful with those. You break 'em, I'll kill you. God.

Oy. My copy of Frank Bunch and His Fuzzy Wuzzies.

[Jesse Laughs]

Put those over there on that futon.

[Tape Ripping] Tight as you can.

Pull it out, and I'll cut it.

Jesus, that wife of mine.

Getting me to move to France, for God's sake.

But it's too late now. The die is cast.

♪♪ [Ragtime, Slow Tempo]


♪♪ [Piano Continues]


♪♪ [Ends]

A lot of the stuff is in here, and some of it's in there.

So I guess pulling up to here would be the best thing.

Or I don't know. Okay. We'll have to take a look.

We got some plywood we can put right down here. Okay. Good.

She's having a ball out there, telling those guys what to do.

God. Giant trucks are here, everything.

It's embarrassing.

[Robert] Oy, yoy, yoy, yoy, yoy.

You think those guys look like they're gonna be sensitive to my record collection?

[Laughs] Bunch of football jocks.

"What do ya got here? A bunch of old albums or somethin'?"

[Zwigoff] Is there anything you're gonna miss about this country?

A certain relaxed quality that people have here that Europeans don't have.

They're much more formal and everything. America's a big "slobville."

Yeah. It's, like, I went up to get my friend's belongings up in Eureka.

It was at these people's house. I went through their living room.

They had this couch that - this chair that was a gold plastic football helmet... with a red and blue padded seat.

They had, like, these double-wide couches and a four-foot TV screen with Nintendo.

It was a Ninja Turtle game on there.

This, like, giant, fat teenager was just sitting there, mesmerized at this TV set.

You don't see too much of that in France. Unbelievable.

[Aline] Yeah.

[Zwigoff] Robert, how do you feel about leaving your family here?

I don't - I don't have any feelings about it one way or the other.

What do I care? Never see that mother or brother anyway.

He talks to them, like, once a year. Yeah.

[Zwigoff] But what about Jesse?

Jesse. He's kind of devastated that we're leaving.

But on the other hand, we told him he could come and stay with us over there... so, you know, he's kind of thrilled about that.

We gave him $500 for plane fare, so he's going to come over there.

How about Max? Yeah? Max I feel kind of bad about...

'cause he doesn't have too many other people to talk to.

I'm probably his closest human relationship in the world.

These all have records in 'em, huh? Yes.

Those 78s you were talking about?

Yep.

So I got no patience for Hollywood bullshit.

Well, I - You know, I can't think in those terms.

I've already got so much of my life wasted with those people down there.

Animation? Forget it. No. I'm not interested in it at all.

There hasn't been a decent animated film made in this country since about 1940.

No, you're not - Cherry Poptart is an abomination.

Larry Welz is an idiot. It's gonna be a piece of garbage.

I'm not interested. All right.

So long.

[Exhaling]

Jesus.

That was a three-way conference call with this guy Charles Webb... who's a friend of Dan O'Neill's.

They're putting together the Cherry Poptart film.

They got on the phone with some guy in L.A.

Some guy - "Hey! I'm your kind of guy.

Remember Tommy Toilet? I loved it!"

Jesus. They want to make a movie or something?

A Natural film, of course.

It's a go project.

Jesus.

This is how I felt after that last hell week of you filming me here.

"How perfectly goddamned delightful it all is, to be sure."

When I was a kid, if I ever started showing any enthusiasm for anything... by brother Charles would always say...

"How perfectly goddamned delightful it all is, to be sure."

Always take the wind out of my sails.

Even though I don't see him often, whenever I'm with him... it revives that real keen awareness of that... of this being very removed or, you know, extremely separated... from the rest of humanity and the world in general... which I kind of like - I like that feeling.

"How perfectly goddamned delightful it all is."


[Mother] Fix it, Charles. Put that towel up the way I had it.

No, first put the towel up.

Watch you don't pull the shade all the way off the thing.

I won't.

[Mother] Can't come in and disrupt people's house like this.

Where are the babies? I don't know. I think the little girl is in my room.

♪♪ [Piano: Ragtime]


♪♪ [Ends]