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Drawing Room

The first couple of comics, Aline and R. Crumb, present a compilation of their most personal work

By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief; photo: Yerba Buena Arts Center

Drawn Together: The Collected Works of R. and A. Crumb” turns dysfunction into warmth as it chronicles the lives, marriage and personal mythology of its authors, the revered underground comics artists.


The book, published in October by the Liveright division of Norton, covers more than 30 years of the Crumbs’ work together, from 1974 to 2007, compiling individually released comic books and New Yorker cartoons. The span of work begins with some lewd sexual drawings of the couple together, which echo the much more rampantly sexual content of R. Crumb’s earlier comics.


Eventually though, “Drawn Together” settles into the story of the couple having a daughter, Sophie, and focuses more on acknowledging each of their psychological eccentricities. As this unfolds, it charms and amuses the reader. The comics are probably unique in that Aline and R. share panels, with R. drawing himself in a scene and Aline usually drawing herself – and each of them drawing specific parts of a single panel. It is quite remarkable that they collaborate in this way.


The comics in “Drawn Together” are quite text heavy, with captions and dialogue balloons that take up big portions of the frames. The Crumbs rely on all this text as much as their drawing styles to tell their stories.


“Drawn Together” also documents the Crumbs’ self-imposed exile from their San Francisco-area roots to France in the 1990s, and R. Crumb’s misgivings about allowing filmmaker Terry Zwigoff to document his life around that time. The attraction of “Drawn Together” is the way it humanizes the Crumbs’ lives and makes them relatable by giving readers or their fans a window into their personal experiences.














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