From various sources, great artists who like to do things their way, and have earned the right to do so.
Alan Moore describes the situation above as “It didn’t work out, shall we say” – he puts it down to Gorillaz not completing reciprocal pages for Dodgem Logic and Moore’s role on the project expanding beyond his original committment. What he created will instead be appearing in the next long-awaited volume of Strange Attractor Journal. As Moore quotes from TV game show Bullseye “let’s see what you could have won.”
GIven that Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett, and Alan Moore are all pretty difficult to work with, file this under “we should never have hoped.”
§ The Awl reports that R. Crumb isn’t working for The New Yorker any more after a cover idea was rejected:
I was asked by one of the art editors, Françoise Mouly, Art Spiegelman’s wife, to submit both covers and comic strips to them. I don’t remember how it came about that all the strips ended up being collaborations with Aline. I guess maybe, probably, it was that I didn’t feel comfortable doing solo strips for The New Yorker because of all the obvious restrictions and limitations–no explicit sex, etcetera–but, hell, the pay was good, and it’s easy to do those strips with Aline without feeling too terribly confined. But I began to feel compromised after an editor there rejected a cover I did for them and would give me no explanation, and so I’m through working for The New Yorker. I refuse to work for anyone under those circumstances, no matter how much they pay. I saw what that did to Harvey Kurtzman’s confidence as an artist, and resolved when I was still in my twenties to never let myself get into a trap like that.
Without knowing the full story, we can understand a commercial need to fine tune a cover — that’s what corporations do — but just blanking one of the great artists of the past 100 years? Kinda lame, people.
On the plus side, a Crumb exhibit of his art for GENESIS just opened at the Portland Museum of Art! Patrick Rosenkranz went and took pictures and all. There was even free booze at the opening!
Of course I was totally blown away by his superb draftsmanship and mastery of human anatomy, animals, landscapes, and architecture. I bought and read the book when it came out, but that crisp black ink on white art boards looked so much more precise than their reproduction onto printed pages. Even the crosshatching and shadowing was revealed in all its convoluted entirety.
On the downer side, Tom Crippen is peeved that Crumb thought that Charles Schulz and Jules Ffeiffer’s art was “not much to look at” compared to Jack Davis or Wally Wood. A hullabaloo ensues in comments. Admittedly when we first heard this, we thought Crumb had actually dissed other cartoonists — but anyone who thinks the genius Charles Schulz drew in the same way Wally Wood did needs to get his head examined.
Aside: Great artists in many media often put down other great artists who are their contemporaries. Often it’s a competition thing, or jealousy, or someone stole someone’s girl or whatever. When you are in the heat of the passion of creation sometimes you need to stay focused on making your own art your own way and reject other equally valid (from an observer’s viewpoint) paths. Our further observation is that when great artists mature and have their own place established, i.e. “lose their edge,” they often admit that, yes, The Beatles were great.
Anyway this isn’t one of those times. Tell it, R.!
UPDATE: Wait, Scott Edelman is also mad at R. Crumb!
But that wasn’t what so horrified me I felt compelled to set the issue down and come tell you about it. No, what disturbed me was one of the things Crumb had to say in answer to a question about which art supplies he uses. His response caused smoke to erupt from my ears and nostrils, and I had to stop and vent.
When asked what kind of paper he used, Crumb said:
Well, I use the old Strathmore vellum surface paper, which is the best paper you can get in the Western world for ink line drawing. It has a good, hard surface. I have it mailed from the New York Central Art Supply in New York. For a while I was using this old Strathmore paper from fifty years ago that some guy sent me, it had bad comic art on one side, hacked-out comic work from 1959, 1960, but the paper is superior to anything you can get now. It just holds the ink better. I ran out of that and now I use this new stuff that’s not quite as good.
What do you think? Is one scribble from Crumb the worth of 100 hack cartoonists?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.