Sophie Crumb And Her Evolution Into A 'Crazy Artist' Sophie Crumb's parents, Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb, are well-known comic artists -- so it's no surprise that she found herself in the same profession. Her new book, Sophie Crumb: Evolution Of A Crazy Artist, is a collection of her drawings up to age 28.
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Sophie Crumb And Her Evolution Into A 'Crazy Artist'

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Sophie Crumb And Her Evolution Into A 'Crazy Artist'

Sophie Crumb And Her Evolution Into A 'Crazy Artist'

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

It's a rite of passage: Your very young child draws a family portrait, you proclaim it the product of genius and post it on the fridge. Sophie Crumb's parents saved a lot of her drawings, starting from the age of two, and they were in a unique position both to teach and to judge the quality of her work: They're the underground graphic artists R. Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

Daughter Sophie continued to draw through grade school, her family's move to France and through the realization that she would always be compared to her famous father.

Sophie Crumb went on tour in France with a traveling circus, became a tattoo artist in Brooklyn and went into the family business. Her work's appeared in the movie "Ghost World." She's the artist and illustrator of the series Bellybutton Comics, and her new book is the ultimate family collaboration. She and her parents compiled a chronological selection of her work from the age of two to 28. It's an autobiography of sorts.

Sophie Crumb and her father R. Crumb join us in just a moment. We want to hear from the artists in our audience. Tell us your story. How did your family nurture your talent or not? 800-989-8255 is the phone number, email You can join the conversation at our website. Thats at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the hour, the San Francisco Giants' great play-by-play man John Miller on that championship season, and we remember Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson.

But first, artist and illustrator Sophie Crumb. Her new book is called "Evolution of a Crazy Artist." She joins us from our bureau in New York City today. Nice to have you on the program.

Ms. SOPHIE CRUMB (Artist; Author, "Evolution of a Crazy Artist"): Hi, nice to be here.

CONAN: Also with us, the artist and illustrator R. Crumb. He's with his daughter in New York today, and nice to have you back.

Mr. R. CRUMB (Artist; Illustrator): Well, thank you.

CONAN: And Sophie Crumb, I wonder: How early were you aware that your parents were artists and that by drawing, you were doing something they did, too?

Ms. CRUMB: Well, it seemed like a natural thing to me, like any kid who imitates their parents, any trade or things that they do at home. But my dad is, you know, a compulsive archivist. So he liked to save my drawings, and he was into them. So I kind of did them to make him laugh often.

CONAN: And did it work?

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah.

CONAN: Oh, good. Robert, do you remember the first time she made you laugh with one her drawings?

Mr. CRUMB: No, but, you know, it was frequently.

CONAN: And she's described you as a compulsive archivist, not just her drawings, I take it.

Mr. CRUMB: Right. I archive almost everything.

CONAN: Do you require ever-bigger houses?

Mr. CRUMB: Yeah, yeah. We have a big house in France that's completely stuffed with things I've saved.

Ms. CRUMB: A museum (unintelligible).

Mr. CRUMB: Right.

CONAN: And there is a point when, Sophie, when you're beginning to understand that your parents are professionals at this and that indeed they have some reputation in the business.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah. I don't know if that was a good thing for me because that just adds on pressure, and then...

Mr. CRUMB: When did you start to become aware of that?

Ms. CRUMB: I don't know. I couldn't - I guess - because you weren't that famous when I was a kid, you know.

Mr. CRUMB: Right.

Ms. CRUMB: I guess and you don't realize those things when you're a kid. I guess when I was a teenager, you know.

Mr. CRUMB: Also, I hid the comics from Sophie when she was little.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, you think you hid them.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CRUMB: Hmm.

Ms. CRUMB: Let's not get into that. I think when I was a teenager, and he was getting more and more famous, and the movie I think when the movie came out probably because they were...

Mr. CRUMB: In France.

Ms. CRUMB: Well, they were filming our house in the States when I was a kid, and that's I think that's probably when, yeah.

Mr. CRUMB: That's right.

CONAN: Well, he was...

Ms. CRUMB: The movie, the "Crumb" movie.

CONAN: He was famous in this country but not so much in France, where you were mostly growing up.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, but he was, like, getting more and more famous in France when we were there. I could see it happening. I kind of lived through it, so...

CONAN: There is one of your comics where you're encountering somebody who says: Your father is R. Crumb really?

Ms. CRUMB: Oh, God.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CRUMB: That's so cool, man. Dude. They all think he's some sort of, like, pothead, hippie. Not at all. He's square and, you know, (unintelligible) old fashioned.

CONAN: But a little strange, though.

Ms. CRUMB: A little strange, I guess, but more in the comics than in his relations to his family.

Mr. CRUMB: I certainly hope so.

Ms. CRUMB: Everyone thinks he's weird with his families, but he's not.

CONAN: And was...

Mr. CRUMB: Thank you.

CONAN: Good. Was your were your parents, your mom and dad, they were teaching you. Were they encouraging you to draw? Were they expecting...

Ms. CRUMB: No, teaching no, I mean, they drew, I drew, the way people, you know, milk cows, I guess, farmer families.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CRUMB: Yeah, that's right.

Ms. CRUMB: All kids draw. I don't know. I can't psychoanalyze myself. It seemed like a natural thing to do, and...

Mr. CRUMB: I would just say that Sophie...

Ms. CRUMB: It was fun. It was a fun thing to do.

Mr. CRUMB: Sophie took to drawing like a duck takes to water. That's all I can say. And she just drew a lot, enjoyed it and just kept doing it through her teen years, through her 20s. She just kept doing artwork all the time.

Ms. CRUMB: And you encouraged me, and you saved the drawings, and you laughed, and you thought they were funny. And of course, yeah, it was pleasing, you know, for me, too.

CONAN: But did he ever go down and say this draw the feet, try it this way.

Ms. CRUMB: Yes, yes. Don't do that. Do the cross-hatching more like this.

Mr. CRUMB: No.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, you did it a lot.

Mr. CRUMB: I (unintelligible) the cross...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CRUMB: Not, but a perfectionist, you know, but yeah, a little bit. But I wouldn't call it teaching. A lot of people ask me that: Did your dad teach you how to draw? No. I wouldn't go that far.

CONAN: But the question comes up: Is it nature, or is it nurture? Was this genetics?

Ms. CRUMB: That's the question, yeah.

CONAN: And there's the other part, that in a little bit of an introduction, Robert, you write in this: One can look at this book as a sort of clinical study, a psychological textbook.

Sophie, you must be so proud.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CRUMB: I want the book to be seen like that rather than the details of Sophie's life. You know, I don't want it to be like a tabloidy thing. I'd rather it be seen as an interesting study of art, you know, and age and evolution, from childhood to adulthood.

Mr. CRUMB: We had this idea quite a long time ago that the fact that we have saved all her drawings, or not all her drawings but a lot of drawings from early childhood...

Ms. CRUMB: A huge amount of stuff.

Mr. CRUMB: That you can trace this evolution of her development through her drawings. And I'd never seen a book like that. I thought any anonymous person, if they drew all the time like that, from early childhood, and it was all saved, it would be an interesting way to study their development.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, and it's all personal drawings I did on sketchbooks, like diaries. So it's none of it was done for print, which makes it even more personal and interesting, yeah.

CONAN: It's very intimate.

Ms. CRUMB: It is.

CONAN: It's a little embarrassing, I suspect.

Ms. CRUMB: A little but, you know, that's part of my lot.

Mr. CRUMB: It's the lot of any sincere artist in life.

Ms. CRUMB: No, no, no, that's not true - anyone that talks about that draws about their own life, draws about themselves, not every artist.

Mr. CRUMB: Yeah, you're right.

CONAN: You give up easy.

Mr. CRUMB: When you're right, you're right.

CONAN: I want to get some callers in on the conversation.

Ms. CRUMB: Oh, yeah?

CONAN: We're talking with R. Crumb, Robert Crumb, and his daughter Sophie.

Ms. CRUMB: Hi, Grandma.

CONAN: Grandma could call. We never know.

Mr. CRUMB: Hi, Pop.

CONAN: The book is called "Evolution of a Crazy Artist," and it's edited by...

Ms. CRUMB: Hi, Mom.

CONAN: ...S.A. and R. Crumb. 800-989-8255. We want to hear from artists in our audience about whether their families nurtured their talent or not. Email also,

And let's see if we can go first to this is Angie(ph), Angie with us from Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.

ANGIE (Caller): Hi. I actually had a question for R. Crumb. I am an artist. I have children, but I'm also an art teacher, and I teach lots of little children.

And I have these incredible high expectations of all of them, and I'm wondering kind of where you drew the line with your daughter in encouraging her but not pushing her too far to make her not want to do art anymore. And that must have come up at some point.

Mr. CRUMB: Well, I always was very aware of not pushing her. I didn't want to push her. But I'm telling you she just took to it. She just -she was a person, I don't know whether she inherited like the neurology or what. She really took to drawing. She always had fine motor skills, you know, and she really liked about age six, seven or eight, she started making these very fine cutouts of little paper dolls. It was amazing.

Ms. CRUMB: What about her?

Mr. CRUMB: So it didn't take pushing. She just took to it. In fact, my wife Aline and I were both drawers all the time, too. It seemed very natural to her. I remember she was surprised when she found out that other people couldn't draw, you know, that there were some adults who couldn't draw. She said: What, you can't draw? You know, she wasn't aware of that.

ANGIE: (Unintelligible) like that.

Mr. CRUMB: Yeah, yeah. But not everybody takes to drawing.

ANGIE: A lot of my (unintelligible) like that.

CONAN: Was there a moment of teenage rebellion, Sophie, where you said I'm not going to do this?

Ms. CRUMB: I would have had to become an evangelical lawyer to rebel against them, or something. Yeah, I did. Yeah, I did. There was a moment of where it was hard for me and I wanted to give up. And that's when I went to circus school and all that stuff. And then when I left home, it came back, you know, it came back around to haunt me.

Mr. CRUMB: You always continued to draw, just for yourself.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, I was doing my sketchbook, but I never wanted to be a professional.

Mr. CRUMB: Yeah, she didn't have necessarily a career, you know...

Ms. CRUMB: I still don't.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CRUMB: ...ambitions. But I never saw her stop drawing ever. She just...

Ms. CRUMB: No, it was always in the sketchbooks, and that's why also the book was such an obvious thing to do because there was so much sketchbook artwork as opposed to anything I've done for professional print or anything like that.

CONAN: Angie, good luck with your charges, and thanks very much for the call.

Mr. CRUMB: Don't push them.

Ms. CRUMB: Don't push them too hard.

Mr. CRUMB: Don't push them. Some kids just are not interested in drawing.

CONAN: Let's go next to Chuck(ph), Chuck with us from Napa.

CHUCK (Caller): How are you doing?

CONAN: Very well.

Mr. CRUMB: Hey, Chuck, dude.

CHUCK: Hey, yeah, I was going to say, first of all, I have proudly displayed, I have a keep on truckin' license plate frame on my car right now. So...

Mr. CRUMB: Great.

CHUCK: Did you...

CONAN: Just a quick question: Do you get royalties from that, Robert?

Ms. CRUMB: Hell, no.

Mr. CRUMB: No.

CONAN: I didn't think so.

Mr. CRUMB: I don't care. I don't care.

CHUCK: I'm sure advertising is worth something, right?

Mr. CRUMB: What?

CHUCK: I'm sure the advertising is worth something.

Mr. CRUMB: No.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CRUMB: No.

CONAN: Chuck, you had a real question before I so rudely interrupted you.

CHUCK: Well, you know, when I was a kid I was going to talk about when I was a kid, I was a very artistic child. I was always drawing. I was also very rambunctious and unable to be controlled in school. And I thought about this years later, but there was an incident when one time I was called down to the principal's, and there was a guy down there with the principal, and they had all my artwork from the whole year, and they were looking at it. They kept trying to talk to me about: Why can you draw so good like this, and you won't do any of the other work?

Years later, I realized it was a psychologist. I thought it was interesting. It was like they were trying to back-door something there with me, but it it was a strange event. I'd never heard anyone else have that experience.

CONAN: Do you continue to draw, Chuck?

CHUCK: Yeah, I did. I actually wound up with an associate's in art from college but didn't wind up in a career of art.

CONAN: Sophie, at some points, you're describing in your book that, you know, as various people, as you're going to school that art class was one of the few in which you could succeed because you were doodling all the time in the other classes.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, that's how I got through high school. That's how I graduated high school. Yeah, I was a dreamer, always drew in my books, was never really that interested in being really good in school. And I just drawing kind of helped with the rest of it, kind of helped get through the rest of it and helped when you didn't know what to do with yourself, and you're awkward and alienated. It's always nice to have something to look at on your knees.

CHUCK: What about the kids who are in school nowadays, and they have art class, and, you know, there is a large group of kids who just don't have any reason to go to school

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, yeah. Well, they should get together and do, like, live figure drawing. That's always a great way to practice your skills. I dont know.

CONAN: Chuck, thanks very much for the call, appreciate it.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, good point.

CONAN: We're talking with Sophie Crumb and Robert Crumb about their new book, "Evolution of a Crazy Artist," which collects Sophie's drawings, some of them, from the age of two to 28.

We want to hear from the artists in our audience. How did you family nurture your talent or not? 800-989-8255. Email us, You can also join our conversation on our website. Go to Click on TALK OF THE NATION. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington.

Sophie Crumb is our guest today. We're talking about her book, an autobiography of sorts, told through her many drawings from the time she was two until 28.

Her father, the artist R. Crumb, writes in an introduction to the book: Sophie was a very intense, seething little being right from the beginning. Whatever she did, she went at it with strong focus and concentration, including drawing.

In November, 1983, when she was two years and two years and two months old, I began saving the most interesting and expressive of her drawings. You can look at some of Sophie's illustrations, some from as young as age three, at our website. That's at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

We want to hear from the artists in our audience today. Tell us your story. How did your family nurture your talent or not? 800-989-8255. Email us:

Here's an email from Christina: My mom comes from a family of highly artistic Mexicans. She was awesome when it came to encouraging our talents. She would buy us art supplies and take us to the art supply store and allowed us to explore and buy stuff that appealed.

I worked as a graphic designer, but left that world in my 20s for the medical field. But I still try to do the occasional artistic exploration outside of work. I thank my mom for that.

And this tweet from MonkeyMinion: My dad used to bring home paper and pencils from work, and both parents always made sure that I knew my work was good, but could get better.

Sophie Crumb, did your parents ever suggest your work could get better?

Ms. CRUMB: No, I don't know. I feel like I was always, you know, happily encouraged and impressed my dad with my great talents and all that. But, you know, you go out in the world after, you kind of get, I don't know, the slap in the face of reality when you leave your home.

Mr. CRUMB: Aw.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, aw.

CONAN: Did you ever run into editors who said you could do better?

Ms. CRUMB: Oh, yeah, of course. I got bashed, you know, well by everyone. But and encouraged. You know, everything, you know, all of it, all of it. But it's good to encourage your kids. It helps them have confidence in themselves.

CONAN: Let's go to Nancy, Nancy calling us from Syracuse.

NANCY (Caller): Yes, hi. Actually, the first time I've ever called in. It's a fascinating show. You are actually validating something that I've been doing. I've collected every piece of art that my daughter, now 11, has ever done since being able to hold a crayon.

And I was inspired not only because her grandmother is an artist and I want to see how she develops, but I collected my own poetry from my entire childhood, and I found it incredibly helpful for me to look back and better understand my development and what my perspectives, you know, with different points in my early life.

CONAN: It probably saved you thousands in therapy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CRUMB: How many times...

NANCY: Well, unfortunately not that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CRUMB: How many drawings of your kid did you save? How much do you have?

NANCY: Oh, hundreds.

Mr. CRUMB: Hundreds, yeah.

NANCY: Yeah, and I had them all some of them are I put them in frames and have a rotating exhibit, if you will. But it really is to, you know, so that she can have the experience I've had with my own poetry of, you know, going back and revisiting a young child when she's too old to remember.

Mr. CRUMB: Yeah, that's right.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah. It's good for posterity, too.

CONAN: Nancy, thanks very much. Good luck with the project.

Mr. CRUMB: Date her drawings. Put dates on them.

Ms. CRUMB: And quotes.

CONAN: Any explanations that she may have. Well, that's what, Robert, you did.

Mr. CRUMB: Yeah, I would often ask Sophie when she was really little: What does this drawing mean? What is this of? And she would tell me. I would write down on the drawing what she said because, you know, that later really helped to...

Ms. CRUMB: It was funny.

Mr. CRUMB: Or it helped to figure out what she was actually doing here.

Ms. CRUMB: And those quotes are written in the book, too.

Mr. CRUMB: Some of them.

Ms. CRUMB: Some of them, yeah.

CONAN: What was the process like of editing? Who made the first cut?

Mr. CRUMB: We did it together. We sat down, we went through all the thousands of drawings that I'd saved.

Ms. CRUMB: A lot of work.

Mr. CRUMB: And boiled it down to, you know, 500. Then we had to boil it down to 270. It was a long process.

Ms. CRUMB: And it was really interesting, because I hadn't gone back and looked at all those drawings from 1983.

Mr. CRUMB: Originally, we were going to call the book "Evolution of an Artist," and Sophie told me, after looking at all her drawings, that she realized that she was always crazy and that she wanted to call it "Evolution of a Crazy Artist."

Ms. CRUMB: And it's perfectly fitting.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Did either of you invoke a veto: Absolutely not, I'm not going to put that in the book?

Mr. CRUMB: Yeah. Sophie often...

Ms. CRUMB: A lot.

Mr. CRUMB: When I said: Why, what's wrong with this one? I don't like that one. I said why? It's good. It's terrific. So, you know, we had a lot of...

Ms. CRUMB: Because all the drawings were done just for me. I never did them thinking I was going to show them to the world, you know. And a lot of them were embarrassing, or just wrong. I just remember my nine-year-old self saying oh, no. I hate that drawing.

CONAN: There are pictures more embarrassing?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CRUMB: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Can you imagine?

Mr. CRUMB: A lot of times, she was embarrassed by stuff she did, like, in her when she was 18 or 19. Now she's embarrassed because she didn't think it's technically that good. She didn't want to use it, because to her, it was technically inferior. But to me, it represented an attitude of the time that, for the clinical purpose of showing this evolution thing I thought was good, but...

Ms. CRUMB: I had to relive all that. You know, so I would find myself in my 18-year-old body saying: I hate that drawing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Here's an email from Heidi in Plainwell, Maryland: I always enjoyed art, but in high school, a classmate told me I was wasting my brain. So in college, I started majoring in biology. My sophomore year, my father sat me down and told me to do what I loved. I followed his advice and have been working in my own studio since 2005. My dad is always on call.

Ms. CRUMB: Oh, good for you. Good for you.

CONAN: Amber in Birmingham writes: As a child, I would create my own radio shows with a handheld tape recorder.

Mr. CRUMB: Sophie did that, too.

CONAN: I did that, too, yeah. I'd hold it up to the radio recording songs, and would come back on as the deejay.

Mr. CRUMB: Wow. Sophie did exactly the same thing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: My parents would always supply me with blank tapes and batteries. I ended up with a degree in radio management and was an on-air personality for seven years. They were always there to hear my show playbacks and were less than surprised when I chose radio as a career.

Ms. CRUMB: There you go. Always encourage your children's eccentricities.

CONAN: And Sophie, you've got a backup job if that art thing ever falls through.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CRUMB: That's a career you could have had.

Ms. CRUMB: I don't have a career.

CONAN: Tim is on the line from Twain Harte in California.

TIM (Caller): Yeah, hey.

Ms. CRUMB: Hey.

TIM: Robert and Sophie, so glad to hear you guys on the radio, huge fan. Not so much of Sophie. I haven't seen much of her stuff yet - yet, yet.

Ms. CRUMB: I've heard that before.

(Soundbite of laughter)

TIM: Yeah, I just wanted to say when I was in kindergarten, I was given some art assignment to draw a cat and a cow, and I drew the cat, a blue cat on top of the cow, and they actually got really upset about that in kindergarten, and they called my parents in because, for some reason, I must not have been following directions.

Mr. CRUMB: What? They thought it was sexual or what?

TIM: (unintelligible) principal's office in kindergarten.

CONAN: Tim, I'm not sure you didn't hear Robert's question. He said: Did they think it was sexual?

TIM: Oh no, no. I don't think at that age, no.

Mr. CRUMB: What did they get upset about?

TIM: You know, I don't remember.

(Soundbite of laughter)

TIM: I'm not sure. I remember my mom coming in and going, you know, my dad is an artist. And it was just, like, what are you talking about? It's art, you know, and that's what he wanted to do.

And so right off the bat, I was encouraged. And then I got called into the principal's office again because I had a painting - a finger painting that was all black. And they were really concerned about that. So then they called my parents in because they were concerned that I was disturbed, or something was going on at home.

Ms. CRUMB: Touchy.

Mr. CRUMB: And what decade are we talking about here?

TIM: This was late '70s.

Mr. CRUMB: Seventies.

TIM: Yeah.

Mr. CRUMB: So what do you do now?

(Soundbite of laughter)

TIM: Well, now...

Ms. CRUMB: Having a (unintelligible).

TIM: Yeah. Now I'm a therapist. Yeah.

Ms. CRUMB: There you go. It's so simple.

(Soundbite of laughter)

TIM: I'm a graphic designer by trade, and then I'm trying to I guess I am an artist by hand, but to get that stuff sold and make a living off it, it's almost impossible.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, yeah.

Mr. CRUMB: Well, people say nowadays that they're graphic designers. You hear this a lot, I'm a graphic designer. I'm not sure what that means. Does that mean you sit in front of a computer all day, or what? What does that mean? Graphic designer.

TIM: Yeah, yeah, pretty much, which is a drag.

Mr. CRUMB: Yeah.

TIM: So when I get away from the computer, my freedom is to do art, which is...

Mr. CRUMB: Yeah.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah.

CONAN: It's Tim, thanks very much, and good luck.

TIM: Hey, thank you.

CONAN: Email following on from that point from Ernesto: In one of your books - he's talking to you, Robert - in one of your books you emphasize the importance of young artists physically making things with their hands. My question is...

Mr. CRUMB: I did?

CONAN: He says you did.

Mr. CRUMB: Gosh, I don't remember.

CONAN: My question is: How can a young artist survive in a society like ours that bestows little importance on the diligence and time-consuming effort that makes - graphic visual art requires?

Our society wants immediate visual satisfaction or amazement, the kind usually found in action movies. How can a young artist seek to compete with so much visual noise?

Mr. CRUMB: That's a very astute, very smart question. This guy's really smart. He's going to go far in life as a, you know, some kind of sociological analyst or something.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CRUMB: That's a good question, and it's absolutely true.

CONAN: Sophie, you were brought up - you describe it as being raised in, well, I guess at least in terms of visual arts, decades past. You were studying Little Lulu and Popeye.

Ms. CRUMB: Oh, yeah. You could call it a brainwash education. I didn't we didn't watch too much normal TV. It was mostly old black and white, "Little Lulu," "Little Rascals," Laurel and Hardy, "The Three Stooges," Marx Brothers.

Mr. CRUMB: Betty Boop.

Ms. CRUMB: Betty Boop, Popeye. Love it. I'm about to start doing it with my own son. He's a little young, but...

CONAN: Let's get Mariah(ph) on the line in Oakland.

MARIAH (Caller): Hi, everybody.

CONAN: Hi, Mariah.

Mr. CRUMB: Hey.

Ms. CRUMB: Hi.

MARIAH: I just I'm a third-generation artist. My grandmother is a retired art therapist, and my mother is working on a graphic novel, and we've made...

Ms. CRUMB: Comic book?

MARIAH: Yeah. She's doing it all on the computer.

Mr. CRUMB: Really?

MARIAH: But I'm just following in her career footsteps in something called visual facilitation, or visual recording, where we draw lives meetings, and we create murals of conversations, picking up the key ideas and doing pictures and symbols, as well as the written word.

So there are fields that people can use, you know, the tactile drawing, helping groups of people actually think together visually. We can see the systems that we're working in. And my mom's been in the field for 25 years and has written books and certainly grew up with your comic books around our house.

Mr. CRUMB: Really?

MARIAH: And I just wanted to speak to, you know, the careers where we can, you know, use drawing live as a way that help us connect with one another.

CONAN: Well, it's also...

Ms. CRUMB: Amen to that.

CONAN: ...three generations, right, Mariah?

MARIAH: That's right. Yeah. My grandmother, who's in her 80s, is an art therapist and...

Ms. CRUMB: Wow.

MARIAH: when we get together, it's wonderful to have all the generations and also to get to use art as a lens to look at our own family and our own lineage the way that each of us has dealt with art.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah.

Mr. CRUMB: And so your grandmother was an art therapist?

MARIAH: That's right.

Mr. CRUMB: And your mother is what? What does she do?

MARIAH: My mother is...

Ms. CRUMB: Comics.

MARIAH: She works - well, in her free time, she does watercolor and she's actually working on publishing a graphic novel...

Mr. CRUMB: But what's her job?

MARIAH: ...that's about her history.

Mr. CRUMB: What's her job, though? What does she do for...

CONAN: What does she do for...

MARIAH: Her job is - pardon me. Her job is - as what she calls mindscaping, which is working as a visual facilitator.

Ms. CRUMB: Oh.

Mr. CRUMB: And so your grandmother was an art therapist. Your mother was a visual facilitator. And what are you? What's your job?

MARIAH: I've also followed in her footsteps, and I work as a visual facilitator. I have my own business. And - yeah.

Mr. CRUMB: Is it - wow. That's kind of like a dynasty of some kind of, like, art therapy thing that's - I've never heard of in my life.

Ms. CRUMB: It's true that it's rare that artists could spend their days hanging out with other people and mostly hanging out with their desks so.


MARIAH: True. We're actually working corporations and nonprofits and (unintelligible).

Mr. CRUMB: Wow. That's very - I've never heard of that. Most of the artists I know are just crazy, shiftless characters that, you know...

Ms. CRUMB: Shiftless.

Mr. CRUMB: ...are eccentric and weird and, you know, live in fleabag rooms and do their weird art on their own little world as (unintelligible).

Ms. CRUMB: I've never heard of visual facilitators. That sounds very interesting.

Mr. CRUMB: Yeah.

CONAN: Sophie, what about the third generation? Will you be collecting your son's artwork?

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, if he does it, unless he takes after his dad - like, least visual person I've met in my life.

Mr. CRUMB: Your husband?

Ms. CRUMB: My husband.

CONAN: Uh-huh.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CRUMB: I think he's more like your husband than like you.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, well, Ill start in with the brainwashing (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Mariah...

Ms. CRUMB: See how it goes.

CONAN: ...thanks very much for the phone call. We're talking with Robert Crumb...

Mr. CRUMB: Very interesting.

CONAN: ...and his daughter Sophie about their book, "Sophie Crumbs Evolution of a Crazy Artist."

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

Ms. CRUMB: Crazy.

CONAN: Frank(ph) is on the line, Frank calling us from Rochester in New York.

FRANK (Caller): How are you this afternoon? I'm also a big fan of R. Crumb. He really was very inspirational when I was a young man.

Mr. CRUMB: Yo, dude.

FRANK: However, when I grew up - I grew up in a small town with a high school that had an arts program. I actually - part of my high school degree was in art. And I had a teacher who was phenomenal, and his whole approach to artwork was - is absolute freedom. He even, for his own kids, gave them a wall when they were really young and told them it was their wall. They can draw on it where they want, anything they wanted, wherever they wanted on their wall as long as they did anything else.

Ms. CRUMB: Good idea. I should do that.

Mr. CRUMB: I would've never done that with you.

Ms. CRUMB: I should do that. That's a good idea.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CRUMB: Give you a wall. I wouldn't do that.

Ms. CRUMB: Well, you're too anal.

FRANK: All the different years of...

Mr. CRUMB: You have to keep painting over and start over.

Ms. CRUMB: He's too anal.

CONAN: You can't collect walls. You can't archive walls.

Ms. CRUMB: Exactly.

Mr. CRUMB: That's true.

Ms. CRUMB: Exactly.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CRUMB: You got it.

FRANK: I did the same thing with my kids in their bedrooms. They could do whatever they want on the walls.

Mr. CRUMB: Geez.

Ms. CRUMB: Good. You're right.

CONAN: Frank, thanks very much and good luck with that.

FRANK: Take care. Bye.

CONAN: Bye-bye.

Ms. CRUMB: Take care.

CONAN: Let's go to Omar(ph), Omar with us from Lake Crystal in Minnesota.

Mr. CRUMB: I don't go with that absolute freedom thing.

OMAR (Caller): Hi. How are you doing?

Ms. CRUMB: Hi.

CONAN: Good. Thanks.

OMAR: Hi. It's - first of all, it's an enormous honor to speak with both of you. And, Sophie, I had no idea you were doing much of anything, but I'm going to go check it all out (unintelligible).

Ms. CRUMB: Well, thanks.

OMAR: I was wondering, and I hope it's not too sensitive a question, but I was wondering if perhaps - if maybe Charles was ever an influence in anybody's work and in anybody's artistic evolution. I - and I ask this because when I was younger, I watched the documentary, and that's actually how I learned about you, Robert. And I was just very taken by it and I was very taken by both you and your brother's artistic styles. And I actually emulated a lot of the crosshatching and sort of scribble things that he did in his work. And I was wondering if maybe you or either of you took any influence from that at all?

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah, he influenced both of us greatly.

Mr. CRUMB: Yeah.

Ms. CRUMB: He influenced me a lot. I used to imitate his style (unintelligible). And some of those are actually in the book, like little kind of Disney-type drawings, and then it became more and more psychotic as he grew older. But he was a great, great influence on me and on you, too, Dad.

Mr. CRUMB: Which is strange because he was already dead when he started influencing you.

Mr. CRUMB: But he was kind of the reason why you started drawing in the first place.

Mr. CRUMB: He is, yeah.

Ms. CRUMB: He forced you to do it.

Mr. CRUMB: I was totally dominated by him artistically when I was a kid, completely.

Ms. CRUMB: Mm-hmm. He was your dictator.

Mr. CRUMB: My mentor.

Ms. CRUMB: He made you draw comics, right?

Mr. CRUMB: He did. He did. That's right.

Ms. CRUMB: Charles is here, as we speak.

Mr. CRUMB: That's right. He lives on.

Ms. CRUMB: He lives on.

CONAN: Omar, thanks very much. Sophie, you said you continue to draw, and you said you don't want to be a professional.

Ms. CRUMB: Of course.

CONAN: You are a professional.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah. No. I think trying to be professional takes you away from the pleasure and the freedom of drawing because that's what my book is. It's all the drawings I did - not all of them, but part of the drawings I did for myself...

Mr. CRUMB: Nice point.

Ms. CRUMB: ...for my sketchbook. Don't interrupt me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CRUMB: For my sketchbook. It's all sketchbook and diary drawings. And they're much more spontaneous and free than anything I ever did for print. So I don't know about the career professional thing. I think that may be - might hurt your work. I don't know.


Ms. CRUMB: I'm not - for you - for dad, obviously, didn't. But he did a whole different thing than me.

Mr. CRUMB: May I speak now?

Ms. CRUMB: Yes. Go ahead.

Mr. CRUMB: I would say that you have professional level skills, but you're not interested in the career thing that much these days.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah.

Mr. CRUMB: Maybe later...

Ms. CRUMB: Maybe I'm not - maybe I'm too lazy.

Mr. CRUMB: No, no way. You're not lazy.

Ms. CRUMB: Thanks.

CONAN: Robert, we just have a few seconds left. Your last book was...

Mr. CRUMB: Coming out. Coming out.

CONAN: ..."The Book of Genesis." What are you working on now?

Mr. CRUMB: I'm doing a collaboration comic with my wife, Aline.

Ms. CRUMB: Hey, Mom.

Mr. CRUMB: Hey, Mom. Too bad you couldn't be here.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah.

CONAN: We would have enjoyed to have her as well.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah.

CONAN: Thank you both very much for your time today. Great luck with the book.

Ms. CRUMB: Go by my book. Thanks.

Mr. CRUMB: Go by my book.

Ms. CRUMB: Thank you. Thank you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: You got to work on her media interviews.

Ms. CRUMB: Yeah.

CONAN: And she's much too shy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Sophie Crumbs book Evolution of a Crazy Artist," edited by S.A. and R. Crumb. Sophie Crumb and her father, Robert, joined us from our bureau in New York. You can go to our website to look at some of her illustrations, some from as young as the age of three. That's at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

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