Bob and His Beer by Sarah Stringfield

By Sarah Stringfield

Bob and his Beer is a private tale approximately loss, grief, and the way we're all attached.

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While a cadre of women cartoonists and other feminists came to object to his sexually explicit work as degrading, as I will discuss in more detail, there is yet a sense that the honesty in Crumb’s work, however repulsive the content, was so striking as to have been electrifying. 42 A crucial context within which to understand the force and appeal of the underground is the backdrop of abstract expressionism, the dominant preoccupation of so much of the discourse around art in the 1960s. 43 Cartoonists were vigorously experimenting with the formal conventions of comics, but they were still trafficking in the repre- 16 i n t Ro duC t i on sentational, and the immediacy of comics was seen as a countercultural value, an effective way of reaching an audience.

20 Panels like this one suggest Kominsky-Crumb’s critique of postwar culture, combining the violence of the spousal relationship visually on the page with the prominent, grotesque presence of overdecoration; violence and materialism are literally entwined here, as Blabette, Arnie, and the lamp create a visual heap of bodies in the panel in which he penetrates her (“Yew 40 sc r Atc h i n g t h E s U rfAc E love it bitch”) (44). In this second panel, his penis is not as darkly shaded; it here contrasts with the black of his pants.

1, 1972. Used by permission of Aline Kominsky-Crumb. 36 sc r Atc h i n g t h E s U rfAc E sion in Kominsky-Crumb’s work. We see this in domestic interiors: bedspreads, floors, wallpaper; in clothing fabrics; and—a feature that gets more pronounced throughout her career—in Kominsky-Crumb’s attention to rendering hair. Fleener sees that Kominsky-Crumb’s comics work “is tightly controlled chaos, every centimeter filled with detail and texture and patterns”—but in “Goldie” we also see how the protagonist at the center of the narrative visually presents a looseness and fluidity that suggests the shifting layers of subjectivity, as against tight background patterning (34).

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