R. Crumb Illustrates Bukowski
Two grand masters of irreverence come together.
By Maria Popova
In the early 1980s, two titans of the artfully cynical and subversive joined forces in an extraordinary collaboration: Legendary cartoonist and album cover artist R. Crumb illustrated two short books by Charles Bukowski, Bring Me Your Love (public library) and There’s No Business (public library). Crumb’s signature underground comix aesthetic and Bukowski’s commentary on contemporary culture and the human condition by way of his familiar tropes — sex, alcohol, the drudgery of work — coalesce into the kind of fit that makes you wonder why it hadn’t happened sooner.
In 1998, a final posthumous collaboration was released under the title The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship (public library) — an illustrated selection from Buk’s previously unpublished diaries, capturing a year in his life shortly before his death in 1994.
Complement with R. Crumb’s illustrated take on Philip K. Dick’s hallucinatory spiritual experience and Bukowski’s magnificent letter of gratitude to the man who helped him quit his soul-sucking day job to become a full-time writer.
Published October 8, 2012