Sophie Crumb: Evolution of a Crazy Artist

Overview

A groundbreaking work of striking originality that charts a young artist's life through her own drawings-from toddlerhood to motherhood.
Sophie Crumb's startlingly expressive drawings track her development as an artist from age two to twenty-eight. Sifting through dozens of their daughter's remarkable sketchbooks, our generation's most celebrated graphic artists have, with their only child, Sophie, now selected more than three hundred paintings and drawings that depict her ...

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Overview

A groundbreaking work of striking originality that charts a young artist's life through her own drawings-from toddlerhood to motherhood.
Sophie Crumb's startlingly expressive drawings track her development as an artist from age two to twenty-eight. Sifting through dozens of their daughter's remarkable sketchbooks, our generation's most celebrated graphic artists have, with their only child, Sophie, now selected more than three hundred paintings and drawings that depict her artistic and psychological maturation. Revealing how an original artistic sensibility is both innate and nurtured, the book features six separate developmental stages, including Sophie's earliest drawings, the elaborate fantasy world of her childhood, her late adolescent rebellion, and her coming of age in the milieu of the Paris circus world and New York's "seventh circle of hell." The drawings from her early twenties—of tattoo artists, dangerous men—reflect a personal anguish that finally ends with her becoming a mother and creating a family of her own. Illuminating and intimate, this book is a dramatic yet subtle statement on the evolution of personality as seen through art.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sophie Crumb's slender body of published comics so far identifies her as an interesting--but still mostly promising--young cartoonist. Questions about this compilation of childhood and sketchbook drawings are both unavoidable and acknowledged. In their twin introductions, Sophie's parents (and co-editors) Robert and Aline Kominsky-Crumb position this book as something other than "Crumbsploitation," praising their daughter's artwork and suggesting that this chronological, lifelong sketchbook anthology constitutes a unique and fascinating document of personal and artistic development. The book satisfies somewhat on these counts. Sophie's earliest work includes very advanced preschool art, and she remains continuously prolific. However, to distance this work from her family background denies part of the reason for her early, sustained development and one of this book's major narrative threads: her relationship to the legacy of her celebrated parents. Their presence as media guides is evident in her early subjects (the Three Stooges, vintage cartoons). Later she leaves home to join a circus, study tattooing, and live with lowlifes in New York City. The true legacy of her parents' influence is her constant outpouring of uncensored, self-critical, and perceptive drawing. (Nov.)
Booklist
“With brief introductions from each of her parents, short notes and captions from Sophie (also a tattoo artist), and a sense of empathy for others, a strong personal connection is forged with readers in this truly unique volume.”
Kirkus Reviews

This is a unique volume, an artistic autobiography of year-by-year sketchbook drawings, ranging from the scrawls of a two-year-oldto a fully developed vision.

The book's publication will initially draw attention because of the 29-year-old artist's parents, R. Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb, who made the selections with their daughter from thousands of previously unpublished drawings, saved and dated by her "compulsive archivist" father. But, as her proud papa recognizes, the real fascination with this book is the way it allows the reader "to track the development, the evolution, of a given human being through the medium of drawing..." He adds: "One can look at this book as a sort of clinical study, a psychological textbook." The apple didn't fall far from the familial cartooning tree, as the maturation of Sophie's style attests, but this progression would be significant even if the artist had a different surname and background. What her mother calls her "wacky personal style" is fully evident by the age of four ("Family Peeing"). By seven, her imagination was capable of rendering a girl turning into a pizza slice, and by eight she had mastered a more realistic manner of drawing that could pass for a high schooler's. By ten, she had her own comic strips and books ("WOW Comics! For kids only. Maybe if adults really want to read it they can!"), and through adolescence she used her art as a way to process not only the typical traumas but the shadow cast by a famous father ("The Legend"). Drawn at age 20, the three-step "Try to Do Away With Your Negative Thoughts" is as cathartic as cartooning gets. Ultimately, she concludes, "I figure if I can put all the abnormality, perversion and zaniness onto paper and still manage to be a partially normal mother to my kids, I will have done all right."

A revelation.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393079968
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/15/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Sophie Crumb

Sophie Crumb has collaborated with her parents on Dirty Laundry Comics and has produced her own series, Bellybutton Comix. A practicing tattoo artist, she lives in the south of France with her husband and baby boy, Eli.

Aline Crumb is an American underground comics artist and the author of Need More Love: A Graphic Memoir. She lives in southern France.

Born in Philadelphia, R. Crumb is the author of numerous comic works and one of the pioneers of underground comics. His books include Kafka, The Complete Crumb Comics (17 volumes), The R. Crumb Sketchbook (10 volumes), R. Crumb Draws the Blues, The Book of Mr. Natural, The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb, and many more. He lives in the south of France with his wife, the artist Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

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