Reviews

Weirdo

Eve Corbel

Remember Robert Crumb, the American comics artist who created Mr. Natural some twenty-five years ago, and got a whole generation to Keep On Truckin'? In the 1980s Crumb edited a comics anthology called Weirdo, which published work by Gilbert Shelton, Dori Seda, Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Carel Moiseiwitsch, among others. Weirdo is still in print, including No. 28, which features Crumb's "When the Niggers Take Over America" and "When the Goddamn Jews Take Over America." The pieces are pure satire, of the biting variety. But their meaning was lost on the publishers of Race & Reality, a white supremacist periodical with headquarters in Massachusetts. R&R ran the strips, sans irony, in a fall 1994 issue. Crumb was not informed, let alone asked for permission, but there's a bigger issue here than copyright. Art Spiegelman (his uncomical comic Maus, about the Holocaust, won the Pulitzer Prize) said, "Crumb was playing with fire, and not playing intelligently...For me, all he was doing was recapitulating the stereotypes without stretching the boundaries." Spiegelman declared that Crumb "failed as a satirist in this case." Did Crumb go too far? Is it twenty-twenty hindsight that makes us so sure of that? What is the measure of satire's success?

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Eve Corbel

Eve Corbel is a writer, illustrator, cartoonist, mom and grandma. Her writing and artwork have been published in numerous anthologies and periodicals, including Geist.

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