I don’t know how it happened, but Robert Crumb visited Richmond.
I found out about it many months ago, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it on the blog already. The event happened last night at the gussied-up Carpenter Center, and I felt it was well attended. I saw both Ed Sizemore and Ben Towle there, and they were both in reporting mode, so keep an eye out for what they will say. They both write really well, and I saw Ben’s copius notes. (I have a few notes myself, and they can be found below.)
In prelude to Crumb’s talk, the decision makers at the University of Richmond, along with consultants, decided to hold a panel discussion of various comic creators that would end up being moderated by little ol’ me. At first I was hesitant, since this would be my first time moderating, but the people involved were very forthcoming with help, answers, and assistance. So, I’ll go ahead and do my shout outs to Tom DeHaven, Patrick Godfrey, Erling Sjovold, Andy Kozlowski, David Howson, and Katherine DeLoyht. Many thanks for involving me, and making all of it very memorable.
The panel discussion brought in Gabrielle Bell, Kim Deitch, Hope Larson, and Anders Nilsen. All fantastic comic creators coming with different views and histories of making comics. So, that was kind of troublesome, since I wasn’t really sure how to tie them all together. Erling stepped in and suggested the scope should probably fall into creation, history (with a nod to Crumb), and publishing. He also suggested a few questions, which turned out to be very helpful.
I know it’s pretty silly, but one of the most exciting aspects of our talk was that there was a GREEN ROOM. I had never been in one before, so I found it all types of interesting. We did a sound check, which was also interesting, and then eventually settled in for an hour long talk about the topics mentioned above. I’d throw in a few oddball questions that dealt with minicomics or anthologies, and before I knew it, our time was up. I thought the event was well attended for a Sunday night. It concluded with a few questions from the audience. Here’s one I remember:
“What current book have you read that you REALLY liked?” (Or something like that.)
Hope: 20th Century Boys. Anders: Jack Survives. Kim: Genesis. Gabrielle: Crap, I can’t remember.
There was a signing afterwards, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Fast-forward to Tuesday night, and we’re all on a bus from the UofR campus to downtown Richmond. It was a bit rainy, so that was the only real damper on the evening. Kim’s wife Pam is a treat and told me of all the stops they got to explore in Richmond, including most of my faves like the Whitings Antique Paper, The Richmond Book Shop, Coppala’s Deli.
As many will probably note, the talk started with Crumb taking a joking fall on to the stage. I couldn’t tell if the audience knew it was a joke or not, but I’ll say that I was quite amazed at his agility in doing so. I guess Aline helps him stretch as well.
Françoise Mouly interviewed Crumb, and took some interesting turns. Since this is one of five stops in the states, it made me wonder if she mixes it up in each city. That would keep Crumb on his toes, and a bit more lively in the discussion. Interesting tidbits I took from the talk:
• Crumb is a grandfather now. (I hadn’t heard… not that I guess I should have?)
• To allow him to finish Genesis, his wife Aline found a secluded house in the country so he could devote ALL of his time to it. Wow.
• A fair amount of resource material was borrowed from the 1916 movie Intolerance. I had never heard of this movie, but it looks amazing. The sets are mind blowing.
Françoise also made it interesting by presenting Crumb with letters she had received at the New Yorker in regards to running the Genesis excerpt. What I found interesting was Crumb’s actual interest in the letters. He seemed to want to be able to debate each one.
Weirdly, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the talk for me is just Crumb’s voice. It’s very interesting and soothing. It took me back to memories of the movie, and makes me want to watch that again.
So, all in all, FANTASTIC! I know I probably have forgotten things that I’ll regret not talking about, but that’s me and my old age. I wish I could have partied into the night with all involved, but again, the old age. Thanks again to all involved! I look forward to diving into Genesis!