Monday, August 3, 2009

"Mr. Natural"

Part wise man, part conman, Mr. Natural has strange, magical powers and possesses cosmic insight, but is also moody, cynical, self-pitying, and suffers from various strange sexual obsessions. He is endlessly being accosted by would-be disciples seeking the truth (among them such long-running Crumb characters as Flakey Foont and Shuman the human). He typically regards them with amused condescension and a certain grudging affection, although his patience often wears thin and he takes sadistic pleasure in making them feel like idiots.

Enormously popular during the underground comics fad of the '60s and '70s and still enjoying a cult following today, Mr. Natural has been endlessly merchandised -- as a decorative plastic statue and on bumper stickers, posters, T-shirts, etc.

It may be observed that Mr. Natural might be a metaphor for Crumb himself and his own iconic standing with some in the hippie movement of the '60s and '70s, who identified Crumb as a kind of inspirational leader.

Robert Dennis Crumb (born August 30, 1943), often credited simply as R. Crumb, is an American artist and illustrator recognized for the distinctive style of his drawings and his critical, satirical, subversive view of the American mainstream. He currently lives in Southern France with his wife Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

Crumb was a founder of the underground comix movement and is regarded as its most prominent figure. Though one of the most celebrated of comic book artists, Crumb's entire career has unfolded outside the mainstream comic book publishing industry. One of his most recognized works is the "Keep on Truckin'" comic, which became a widely distributed fixture of pop culture in the 1970s.

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