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MEETTHE CRUMBS, THETROUBLED WELL
OLSTOY BELIEVED
that all unhappy families are different, but there's
none quite so different as the one we meet in Terry

he moved to southern France in 1991

with second wife AIine KominskyCrumb, 46, also a cartoonist, and their

daughter, Sophie, now 13. Jesse,27, Robert's son by first wife Dana Morgan,

Zwigoff's brilliant new is a commercial illustrator. documentary, Ciumb, a MAX0tl, late 40s. An ascetic, mildly about seminal under- disturbed painter/beggar who seeks ground cartoonist-godhead Robert, peace by sitting on a bed ofnails in his Crumb and his deeply dysfunctional San Francisco flophouse. family. Madness, drugs, sexual perversii i

ty-if

not for the redemptive power

of

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art, you'd have met this clan on GeraLd.o: t Father GHARTES SB. A career Marine and businessman who died at 68 in 1982. He's remembered in Ctamb 6s a "sadistic bully" who, in a rage one

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Christmas, broke 5-year-old Robert's

DeGennaro, 54, a library technician and writer living in Maryland, tells a different story. "[Zwigoffl could have talked to us to get our perspective," she insists, "but he was more concerned with making some point about the angst of artists." Zwigoff, she says, "called me, once, a couple ofyears ago. He mentioned coming to talk to me, and I said that was fine." She admits she wasn't enthusiastic, but even so, "he didn't follow through." Were Mom and Dad as badas Cvamb suggests? "My brothers always tended to exaggerate," DeGennaro says. "Our family was dysfunctional, but as I grew up I saw families as bad or worse. Like Charles talking about our mother being

collarbone. t Mother BEA,75. Portrayed as a onetime amphetamine freak. She now lives alone outside Philadelphia. a GHABTES JR. A gifted earloonist as a child, Charles pushed his siblings into art. Crumb shows him to be a highly arliculate depressive and a recluse in his

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REVEI{GE 0F THE 1{ERD: Gartoonist R. Grumb

mother's home. Filmmaker David
Llmch once talked of writing a screenplay for Charles to star in. But in February 1993, one year after being inter-

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an amphetaririne addict. My mother does have mental problems, but she only took diet pills for six months to lose weight. I don'b view that as being an addict." As for Robert's broken collarbone: "We kids were having a fight and my brother was misbehaving, so my father grabbed him real hard to

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jerk him away, and his collarbone
broke. My father felt terrible about it." DeGennaro concedes their father was no sweetheart. "[He] was a career Marine," she says simply. "He believed in discipline and punished you when you disobeyed. He was tough." How tough? "He was Santini," she says, referring to the 1979 film Th,e Great Santini, which starred Robert Duvall as a peacetime Marine who bullies his teenage son. Of Charles Jr.'s suicide, DeGennaro says: "An overdose. He'd made references to me a couple of times that he

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There are Crumbs not seen in
Crumb. Director Zvigoff, an old friend of the cartoonist's who spent six years filming him and his kin, says Robert's sisters, Carol DeGennaro and Sandra Colorado, declined to participate: "Carol said she was shy and wouldn't have

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viewed for Crumb, he committed
suicide at Lhe age O R08ERI, 51. The hugely

of50.

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influential creator of Mr. Natural, Fritz the Cat, "Keep on Tluckin'," and other under- anything good to say. She kept twning ground cartoon icons. A scathing satirist me down, very politely but firmly. Sanwith eccenlric-some say misoglnist- dra was much more angry-said she'd sexual tastes often depicted in his work, sue me if I so much as used her name."
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L O V E C Ei

s4 JUNE 2, 1995

ffiffiffiW@ffiRffiffiffi
F ROM WHICH THE CARTOON LEGEND DRAWS

fltE wHoLE FAfflLy te @ffi@gw

\'voul(ln't live to be 50. He'd lzrugh about alwa-vs tended to tl.re riramatic. He just chose a dlatiratic exit."

itl Clhai'les

Coloiado, the u.idoq,of ulitei'(and R.

Crurnb cror.ry) Mai'tv Pahls, has long been on the outs ruith the firmilv, veherner.rtll' obiecting to Robert's tlepictior.rs of w-omen; she r,r'A-s in a fistfight r,vith Robei't the rlrly Zu.igoff met I'rer in the

GOMTGT
:'RFfCTLY
J C IJ DNI1N iCIJDNIIN

eally '70s. It probably di<ln't help mattet's lvhen Robert, in a 1988 intet.r-ierv, refen'erl to some quasi-sexnal "hor.sir-rg :u'ounri" with l-rer u,hen thev u'et.e teens. Most of the family is out of touch u'ith Colorado, and effbrts to locate her. fbr. this article u,ele h'uitless.
.Iesse

isn't on close telrns witlt his fa-

ther, u,ho near the end of (rtrttrb
'irolv L
l,lG

pi'omises to give his son g500 to visit hin.r in l'r'zrnce. "He didn't, though!"
Jesse says v,'itl.r :r laugl.r. Maxon, at le:rst, "has ner.ei'been doiug betteri mer.rt:rl1v or phvsicall1,," i.s-

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I ntL 15 ,, i, BE SURS.

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polts Zwigoff. "People have been contacting me to bnv l.ris paintir.rgs." Solthie, savs hel mothei', is norv dlawir.rg caltoons styled aftei'those of her l:ite r-rncle Charles. As fbr Robelt hiniself, he rvould not comment on the film, but KominskyCrumb repotts, "I u,oukln't sav IRobeitl ditln't like it-he t'elt it u-as u,ell edited-but it u,':rs so intim:rte it u,as re:rlly shocking. I don't think he reillized the pou'er it would have u,hen it r.r'as rlone." "He rvas soi't of holi'ified u'hen he saw it," says Zlligoff lvho :rdtls that the film's success "has been exctuciatin.q tbr Ilobert." Thor-r.gh surely not as exct'nciating as the lif'e the movie recalls.

TLUSTRAT

I]N BY R

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