Thursday, February 24, 2011

Original R. Crumb Art Keeps On Truckin' at Heritage Auctions

by Stephen J. Gertz

Big Ass Comix #1
Dale Steinberger the Jewish Cowgirl
Original art, 1969. Est. $7.5K, 1969.

Today and tomorrow, February 24-25, 2011, Heritage Auction Galleries is holding their Dallas Signature Vintage Comics and Comic Art sale. Included is a kick-ass selection of original art by R. Crumb that will keep you keepin' on to keep on truckin'.

We've chosen a small sampling from the twenty-six pieces offered, representing the most desirable  original art  by Robert Crumb to hit the market in quite some time.

Big Ass Comics #1 "Dale Steinberger the Jewish Cowgirl" Splash Page 1 Original Art (Rip Off Press, 1969). Robert Crumb indulges his love of big, strong Jewish women with this crazy yarn about a real krassavitseh, a doll of a cowgirl. This opening page features a fantastic, full-figure portrait of Crumb's Dale Steinberger, the Jewish Cowgirl, in all her two-gun glory, Debra Winger, ala Urban Cowboy, on steroids.

Zap #1. Original art, 1968. Est. $11K.

Zap Comics #1 Complete 2-page Story "Kitchen Kut-Outs" Original Art (Apex Novelties, 1968). Robert Crumb's original, first issue of Zap Comics (the "Comix" tag would come later), drawn in 1967, was a real game-changer. First, it pretty much single-handedly started the entire Underground Comix movement. Even though there were others who went before (like Jaxon's classic God Nose, published in 1964), it was Zap that really got things going. And even more important was the fact that this was the first real Independent comic, printed and distributed outside the established comic houses like Marvel and DC. From that historic first issue comes this two-page center-spread, "Kitchen Kut-Outs." The humanized edibles and utensils have been used several times, including a cook book by Crumb's first wife, Dana, and as a mobile hanging display.

XYZ Comix. Original art, 1972. Est. $9K.
XYZ Comics Cover Original Art (Kitchen Sink, 1972). It's the Last Word in Comics! R. Crumb's obsession with 1940s-style comic book art reaches its zenith in this cover to his 1972 solo comic, XYZ. By this time in his career, Crumb was reaching the "burn-out" stage in creating comic book stories filled with dope-smoking hippies, and instead turned to his vintage record collection for inspiration. The interior pages of XYZ were filled with wild layouts loaded with unconnected panels, each one drawn while listening to one of his old 78 rpm records. The result was unlike anything Crumb had done before, stream of consciousness musings with no linear storyline to trip him up. It all begins with this magnificent cover illustration, showing a variety of oddball characters dreamed up out of the blue, as that crazy Jazz and Blues music emanates from the record player. Krazy Kool, man!

Hup #4
Mr. Natural and Flakey Foont in A Bitchin' Bod!
Original art, 1992. Est. $4K.

Hup #4 "Mr. Natural & Flakey Foont in A Bitchin' Bod!" Page 1 Original Art (Last Gasp, 1992). The unforgettable Cheryl Borck, aka "Devil Girl," dominates this wild story featuring Mr. Natural and Flakey Foont. This 1991 story is one of R. Crumb's best later efforts and fan favorites, and this first page kicks things off with an incredible portrait of Cheryl, undoubtedly Crumb's strongest female character yet.

Meet the Beats - Kerouac. Original art. 1985. Est. $19K

Meet the Beats Jack Kerouac Illustration Original Art (Water Row Press, 1985). The On the Road and Dharma Bums author is immortalized in this expressive pen and ink portrait by Zap Comix artist Robert Crumb. The art made up part of a set of limited edition prints, and was also used as a T-shirt design. Crumb spent time with several of the major Beat writers while producing that first issue of Zap -- in fact, printer Charlie Plymell was rooming with fellow Beats Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassidy while he was running off Zap #1 in another room. Oh, to have been present at that convocation!

Images courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries, with our thanks. With a tip o' the hat to their cataloger, who seems to have had a lot of fun.

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