"Without my brother Charles forcing me to draw comics, today I would be a commercial illustrator signing my work "Bob Dennis."
Robert Crumb was born August 30, 1943 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia. He and his brother Charles were self-admitted wimps and started drawing comics from age 7-8. According to Robert, they started studying comics more carefully, and by age 11, "We were connoisseurs".
Robert's father was a World War II veteran, and having spent 20 years of his life in the Army, was a genuine militarist. In the comic "Dumb", Robert writes "He walked around whistling military anthems. 'Bridge over the River Kwai' was a particular favorite. No wonder I almost turned out a faggot." His parents were also strict catholics and Robert went to church each Sunday. He has said on many occations that he was brainwashed and that "it's a wonder I had any brains left!"
During his teens and early twenties, Robert read books upon books, and considered himself smart. He has said that this was just covering up that he feared other humans. He was afraid of their judgement of him. And he despised them. He would go to the student union and "observe humanity". He would elevate the girls to saint-hood and go home and ... well, masturbate.
In 1962, after moving to Cleveland, Ohio, Robert Crumb started working for the American Greeting Card Company. Crumb sent a Fritz the Cat comic to Harvey Kurtzman who ran Help! Magazine at that time, and got a positive letter back: "We really liked the cat cartoon, but we're not sure how we can print it and stay out of jail." Eventually they did print it, though. Crumb was later sent on an assignment in Harlem, New York to do some "humorous" illustrations for Help! He was a coward and made small sketches then ran home to finish them. On one of the excursions, a man came up to him and said "Get out of Harlem, white man!"
Help! folded, and Kurtzman helped Crumb get various jobs, such as working on story boards with Jack Davis, but Davis fired him. Crumb also did a little work on Kurtzman and Will Elder's comic Little Annie Fannie for Playboy, but Kurtzman advised him to do his own thing, as he was too eccentric.
In 1964, Robert married Dana, his first wife. He had just quit working at the greeting card company, and began hanging around in hippie circles. Crumb started smoking pot and eventually tried LSD, from which he got a few bad trips. It was during this period that he created some of his more enduring characters, among others, Mr. Natural.
By 1967, Robert had had enough of marriage, and during the Summer of Love festival in San Francisco, while Dana was out shopping, Robert hitchhiked to "Chigago" as he spelled the sign. It was in 1967 that Robert started Zap Comics.
Soon, he started feeling outside of the hippie culture, and "these LSD-inspired comics I'd drawn gave me a modest kind of hero status in the so-called counter-culture - Y'know, when you're famous people are eager to be your friend, so they agree with everything you say...Your opinions and ideas go unchallenged." It was also during this time that Robert lost a patent case on his "Keep on Truckin'" slogan, because he had let it slip into the public domain.
In 1973, Robert met Aline Kominsky, they started Dirty Laundry and Weirdo together, and they have been married since.
One of the recurring themes of Robert Crumb's work is the big women. Robert has never been afraid to admit that he is an ass man. It wasn't until he saw the works of S. Clay Wilson, though, that he started including his own fetishes in his comics. In the summer of 1968, Crumb saw Wilson's comics and how he drew anything that came to him, no matter how violent or sexually perverse. At that point, Crumb realized that he shouldn't draw to entertain but just draw for himself. It was also at this point that Crumb started overdoing the racial stereotypes. Not a racist himself, he is often mistaken for one, as his portrayal of especially black people is very politically incorrect.
See also other Comics creators.