Charles Crumb

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Charles Crumb
Born Charles Vincent Crumb, Jr.
March 13, 1942 [1]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died February 1992 (aged 49–50)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Cause of death Suicide
Occupation Artist
Parent(s) Charles Crumb[2]
Beatrice Crumb[2]
Relatives Robert Crumb (brother)
Maxon Crumb (brother)
Sophie Crumb (niece)[2]
Carol DeGennaro (sister)[2]
Sandra Colorado (sister)[2]

Charles Vincent Crumb, Jr. (March 13, 1942 – February 1992) [3]

Charles often appears as a character in Robert Crumb's comic stories and autobiographical writings; Robert credits Charles' childhood obsession with making comics as the foundation of Robert's own devotion to his art. Robert has created several works, adapted from things that he and Charles did as children, as well as telling stories about Charles, in Robert's own comics.

As Charles entered adulthood, he began showing signs of mental illness, due to what he himself described as his "homosexual pedophiliac tendencies". As a teenager, he had already developed a particular obsession for Bobby Driscoll, child star of the film Treasure Island, and much of his artwork focused on themes and characters from the film and novel. According to his own testimony, Charles Crumb never succumbed to his urges, and remained determined not to. It should be noted, however, that Bobby Driscoll was born in 1937 – a full 5 years before Charles – so the latter's self-professed pedophilia may actually have been a misguided over-anxiety, induced by his fixation on Treasure Island [first seen by him in 1955 on television, as per Robert Crumb in the 1994 documentary "Crumb"] and one of its lead actors who was, in reality, considerably older than himself. Throughout the years, he remained constantly terrified that his sexual tendencies would be discovered by his mother, or by anyone.[4]

During his adult life, he never left his family home, and rarely ventured outside, where he lived with his mother. At this point, his artwork exhibited repetitive and painstaking concentric lines, filling in otherwise normal, Crumbesque drawings, reflecting an obsession with filling every last centimeter of white space.

Charles Crumb and his artwork received wide public attention, as a result of the success of the 1994 feature-length documentary film Crumb, in which Charles and some of his work are featured prominently. His artwork, including notebooks filled with tiny gestural marks that suggest handwriting, has been published and exhibited, sometimes in the context of outsider art. After Charles committed suicide, his mother threw out a great deal of his artwork as she thought "No one would be interested in it."

In the film Crumb, R. Crumb describes how Charles would often react to things by saying "How perfectly goddamned delightful it all is, to be sure." It was a catch-phrase of his. Robert remarks, "Whenever he said that, it always took the wind out of my sails."

Charles Crumb committed suicide in February 1992. He reportedly died as a result of an overdose.[2] The producer of the film, David Lynch, said he considered writing a screenplay for a film for Charles to star in.[2]

The film Crumb was dedicated to his memory.

Further reading[edit]

  • Crumb Family Comics (Last Gasp, 1997)
  • The Complete Crumb Comics (Fantagraphics, 1997–2005)
  • Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me: Robert Crumb Letters 1958-1977 (Fantagraphics, 1998)


External links[edit]