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Sample Autograph Signature: R. Crumb

American artist, illustrator, and a founder of the underground comics movement. Robert Dennis Crumb was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1943, the third of five children born to a career Master Sergeant in the Marine Corps and a devout Catholic mother. Crumb grew up around military bases in Philadelphia and California, and Milford, Delaware. His father, who served in World War 2, was an authoritarian prone to sudden acts of violence against the family. Crumb says his mother was "certifiably crazy" and had been committed several times. His brothers, while artistic, all suffered from mental illness. One has lived in a flophouse impaling himself on beds of nails and draws pictures of naked young girls. Another suffers from epileptic seizures, and when not begging on the streets, paints Picasso-like artwork, sitting on nails and running cloth through his intestines. His older brother, Charles, was a precocious and obsessive author of comic strips who pushed Robert into the same obsession from his childhood through his teens. As an adult, Charles rarely left the family home, became seriously depressed, and finally killed himself. Crumb himself grew increasingly depressed and was contemplating suicide at 19 before he moved to Cleveland where he designed greeting cards for the American Greetings Corporation. He continued his comic work and submitted one to Mad Magazine creator Harvey Kurtzman's Help! Magazine. Receiving encouragement from Kurtzman, his boyhood idol, Crumb moved to New York in 1964 to work as Kurtzman's assistant, but he and his new wife traveled in Europe for 8 months while he continued to do work for Kurtzman and American Greetings. Help! folded just after Crumb returned. He spent about a year in New York making comics trading cards for Topps Gum, and then returned to Cleveland. Crumb moved to San Francisco in January 1967 where he did some comics for Yarrowstalks magazine before publishing the first issue of his Zap Comix in early 1968 and establishing himself as the best-known artist of the countercultural comics movement. Crumb's coupling of early 20th century cartoon styles with his satirical stories and defiant disregard of the Comics Code and rebukes of traditional American "decency", earned him unexpected success for a career outside the mainstream of comic book publishing and for which he had no formal training. His most widely recognized works are the Keep on Truckin' drawings, and such characters as Mr. Natural, Fritz the Cat, Angelfood McSpade, Devil Girl, among others. He also founded and contributed to the comics anthology Weirdo which ran through the 1980s. In 1972, Ralph Bakshi wrote and directed Fritz the Cat , which grossed $90 million and was the first animated film to garner an "X" rating. Crumb disliked it and killed Fritz in his comics. Crumb's comics have been praised as the work of satirical genius and condemned as socially degrading, racist, misogynist, and immature pornography. Loathing becoming a celebrity, he moved to southern France.

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