San Francisco: c1972. Original art by Crumb, in black ink, on a large (10 1/4” X 13 1/2”) white board that was once the recto side of a spiral drawing pad’s back cover. Titled “Map to Eric’s Place in Muir Beach.” Minor smudges to the top edge, remnants of the spiral perforations on the left edge, the verso side (the red cover of the pad’s back) is scraped, but the map is near fine. The detailed beyond reason drawing takes the traveler from Geary Blvd. in San Francisco, north through Mill Valley, to Muir Beach. Crumb adds a nice depiction of Eric’s house overlooking the Pacific in the upper right corner, and he frills the lower left corner with a portrayal of an antique sailing ship. He’s also drawn a lovely compass just northeast of the ship, some quixotic keys such as mailboxes, a Richfield station, and a rope fence, some more usual ones like The Golden Gate Bridge, and a few droll annotations (”WASP Heliport” and a sign “In God’s Name”) and he’s made 2 corrections, changing “Tamali” to “Tam” and crossing out Sunset Way going east, and altering it to west, adding “mistake.” The drawings, road lines, and 62 words in ink, are all in Crumb’s hand. Charming. Rare. Just 1 other Crumb map, “Come to beautiful Potter Valley” is recorded. Near fine. Item #439
We take maps for granted but they are an idea at the pinnacle, with science, aesthetics, and technique applied to the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively. This one’s from the time when Crumb had overcome his depression (the inability to construct a future) and was cashing in on the first wave of Underground Comix (1968–1973), while commuting from San Francisco to Potter Valley, from Kathy Goodell to his wife Dana, and the ranch they had just bought with a $5,000 advance from Ballantine for the collected Fritz the Cat. And parenthetically, Crumb’s cover art for Ballantine’s self–same Fritz the Cat sold for $717,000 (HA, May 18, 2017), the highest price ever paid for any original comic artwork (not an earlier painting used later on a comic), eclipsing every one of the super–heroes from both D. C. and Marvel, and everything by Disney, from ducks to princesses.
And here’s a 1 sentence rant about art. It’s silly when people say, “I know what I like” when in reality “they like what they know” since the more educated one is about art, the wider is one’s understanding and appreciation (Book Code).
Crumb’s Zap Comix no. 1 (Feb. 1968) launched a new genus of art, its timing perfect for the era. The 6 years of U. S. counterculture (1964–1969) are now most often recalled for assaults on conventional values, the military draft, segregation, poverty, victimless crimes, hypocritical censorship, orthodox lifestyles, official corruption, sexual prudery, gender inequality, media barriers, parental duplicity, environmental abuse, government deceit and colonial war, each of them satirized by Crumb and his followers in underground comix. I witnessed the entirety and engaged fully, and I always knew that much of our motivation wasn’t entirely innocent or upright, but the establishment was never efficient enough to bust us all. And while each of those causes have seen their successes rise and subside, even the credulous campaigns waged were empowering and exhilarating and they coerced an American pivot and continue to impact our lives today. And my Flower Power allies did answer one perennial question. How do we rebel and conform at the same time? Our answer? Defy our parents and copy each other, and we did so with our hair, beads, sex, drugs, seers, communes, mini–skirts, rock & roll, psychedelic regalia, geodesic domes, charred bras, and our underground comix.