February 26, 2010

R.Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country

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Written by: Drew
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R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country
Publisher: Abrams
Art: R. Crumb
Writing: R.Crumb, Stephen Calt, David Jasen and Terry Zwigoff

This collection has been out for a little bit but I just dig it. Around 1980, underground cartoonist R. Crumb had the idea to create a series of trading cards based on his love for 20s and 30s Blues, Jazz and Country (as expressed throughout his work). Originally these cards were meant to be packaged with LPs, as little collector’s items, true blue trading cards. Instead they were issued in 3 complete boxed-sets of trading cards, Heroes of the Blues, Early Jazz Greats and Pioneers of Country Music. The trading cards were of a traditional setup, artwork on front and on the back a brief history of the musician/group and their work. Abrams has published all 3-sets in a single collection, with postcard size enlargements of all the drawings to enjoy the artwork more. The collection also comes with a CD of highlights of some of these heroes, which R.Crumb has chose himself for your listening pleasure.

Crumb’s artwork is great. There are 2 sides to Crumb’s style if you don’t know him. There is his more cartoonish style he explores with us though things such as Fritz the Cat or his work on American Splendor, and then there is his more realistic side, which delivers things like this set of portrait based drawings. The combination of pencil, ink and color from Crumb’s hand is worth its weight in this set.

This collection provides an interesting peek into the alternative side of the American comic scene. Certainly Crumb is acknowledged as one of the heads, if not “the head” by many, of the underground comix movement. In the evolution of the comic book, his impact on this American creation is undeniable. This collection allows us to view not just an interesting side to Crumb, away from all the sex and violence he sprawls across the pages normally, but also strengthens the proof that comic book artists are that: artists. We talk about the Renaissance Age and all these artists and their great paintings, well I believe that comic books and artists like Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, R. Crumb, Osamu Tezuka and many more, are the Michelangelo’s of the past century. It also reminds us that the medium can do more then just go beyond super heroes by feeding us horror or noir stories, but can capture biographical tones just as well and still be effective (true this collection collects and reprints the card collections, however it does remind of us of the possibilities out there and there are things like biographical graphic novels and stories to delight us).

To sum it up, an unusual yet wonderful addition to any comic collection.

Drew McCabe



  1. I love his work. It’s amazing.

  2. billy

    Wow, really interesting article Drew. Great stuff. 🙂

  3. Wow, I actually have this set…can’t go wrong with Crumb!

  4. I’ve only seen this set! great write up!

  5. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ComicAttack: R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz, & Country: #comics #crumb #music…

  6. […] you are interested in other cartoonist trading cards, also check out The Garbage Pail Kids and Crumb’s Heroes Of Blues, Folk and Jazz […]

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