Aline Kominsky-Crumb, feminist underground cartoonist, dies at 74

Aline Kominsky-Crumb, the underground cartoonist whose autobiographical, obscene, and darkly silly comics in the 1970s turned her into a heroine fighting for a generation of women who saw disappointment and longing. their own sexuality in her drawings, died on November 30 at her home in a remote village near Nimes, France. She was 74.

Her husband, underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, said the cause was pancreatic cancer.

Kominsky-Crumb’s crude black-and-white drawings depict sexualized counterculture through stories of women with hairy armpits, big noses, and big buttocks. The women are a self-described image of Ms. Kominsky-Crumb, who once said, “I am incapable of making up anything.”

Although her work in later years appeared in the New Yorker and in galleries around the world, Ms. Kominsky-Crumb says that was never her intention.

“I’m drawn to underground comics,” she said in a 2020 interview with a German art magazine, “because I wanted to do something that people would throw away. Basically, they were. will read it on the toilet and throw it away. That’s what I’m like.” If it didn’t matter, she added, it would be the most liberating in that art.

In 1972, Mrs. Kominsky-Crumb published “Goldie: A Nervous Woman” – said to be the first autobiographical manga published by a woman – in The combination of Wimmenan all-female underground anthology with contributors such as Lee Mars and Diane Noomin, who died this early year.

The drawings and language in the comic show a chubby young woman reminiscing about hearing her parents have sex as she desperately tries to find a suitable mate. In one panel, Goldie is shown sitting at a desk, spreading her legs wide and thinking something that can’t help but be printed in a home newspaper.

“She specializes in getting over anyone who calls her vulgar,” Noomin told New York Times 2018.

One of her most famous works is a drawing of her in a toilet, which was published on the cover of the magazine. “Twisted Sisters,” an anthology she co-founded with Noomin. Her underwear is pulled down around her high, thick red socks. She was looking in the mirror and thinking, “I LOOK LIKE A 50 YR person. BIG BUSINESSES.” She also wondered, “How Many Calories IN A CHEESE ENCHILDA?”

Kominsky-Crumb’s characters “are made up of exaggerated parts of me that I inflate and push to the maximum,” she told Huffington Post in 2017. “I drew the worst, unacceptable parts of myself. I’m not as ugly as I make myself out to be. But when I was younger, that was how I felt, so that’s what I drew.”

Aline Goldsmith was born on August 1, 1948 in Five Towns, NY, and grew up in an unusually middle-class Jewish family. Her mother comes from a wealthy family and her father is a businessman with a hand in organized crime.

“My family is really barbaric,” she told Huffington Post. “My father was a wannabe criminal. If he could be a ‘Goodfella’, he did. But he is not Italian. He is Jewish. So he’s a total loser.

Although she loves the humorous aspects of Jewish culture, especially her self-deprecation Comedian Borscht Belt such as Jackie Mason and Joan Rivers, Ms. Kominsky-Crumb wrote in her 2007 memoir “Need More Love” that she longed to be free from “sloppy, out-of-control materialism, to strive for excellence, stress, financial problems, selfishness and suffering of his family. “

“In high school, I marked my days on the calendar like I was in prison,” she says. told Huffington Post. “My town is full of Jewish kids trying to get ahead, all wanting to go to the best schools, all spoiled and snobby. I’m sure there are other losers like me, but overall, I think it’s a horrible place.”

As a teenager in the 1960s, Ms. Kominsky-Crumb used to sneak into Manhattan to visit galleries and museums, looking for hours at work by Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, and especially the painter. Mexican Frida Kahlo, whose vivid self-portraits show both. deep pain and beauty.

During her trips to Manhattan, Ms. Kominsky-Crumb would also sneak down to Greenwich Village to observe and hang out with the hippies and other outcasts she was attracted to. In 1966, after graduating from high school, she attended Cooper Union College of the Arts in Manhattan.

She said in a 2012 interview published in Critical Inquiry, an academic journal published by the University of Chicago: “It’s like an extremely unattractive, sexist creative environment at its most extreme. that I can imagine. “The criticism is so mean and the competition so terrible, it makes you never want to draw or show your work to anyone.”

In 1968, she was briefly married to Carl Kominsky. Before their divorce, they moved to Arizona, where Ms. Kominsky-Crumb pursued a degree in fine arts at the University of Arizona, graduating in 1971. She moved to San Francisco, where she fell in love with the hippie style and after being introduced to it by Mr. a mutual friend, began dating the underground cartoonist who signed his work “R. Broken.

Crumb, who grew up in a troubled family, with a drug-addicted mother who threatens her children with enema if they misbehave, is even more outrageous and perverted than the comics. His new girlfriend started publishing. They married in 1978, agreeing to an open marriage.

Some feminists objected to her relationship with a man whose sexual depictions of women they found disturbing. She told the Huffington Post: “There are two camps: feminists who want nothing to do with men and women who want to be strong, independent but also sexy. “That’s who I was associated with.”

In 1995, their marriage became a hot topic after the widely acclaimed documentary “Crumb”. The film details Crumb’s painful childhood – his brothers are mentally ill and one dies by suicide – and his wife’s compassion for him.

“Films like this are usually not made because people with lives like this often don’t want to reveal them,” said film critic. Roger Ebert wrote.

At the time, the couple was living in France and raising their daughter Sophie, and co-wrote autobiographical comics about their lives that appeared in the New Yorker and other mainstream publications. In 2007, Ms. Kominsky-Crumb published “Need more love,” a graphic memoir.

“While her raw, messy drawing style and boundless content annoys many comic book fans, there’s no denying the potential in her confessional comics,” says Booklist. in his review. “Readers intrigued by this volume to learn more about Crumb will likely leave it with a renewed appreciation for his talented mate.”

Kominsky-Crumb was once asked by a Guardian reader how it felt to be married to a genius.

“Robert is the best dishwasher I have ever met and he is a pleasure to talk to at the breakfast table.” she speaks. “He always laughs at my jokes and is my best fan. And that’s what it feels like to live with a genius for me.”

Artist Art Spiegelman told the New York Times in 2018 that the buzz of Ms. Kominsky-Crumb’s influence on women extends beyond the counterculture days.

“She has in common with Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, women who are trying to grapple with their identities in an unpretentious way,” author of “Maus” told paper. “They are just trying to live and breathe like women with all their contradictions. And it’s a free and open way to look at yourself.”

In addition to her husband and daughter, Ms. Kominsky-Crumb is survived by three grandchildren.

Earlier this year, in a interview with Artforum, Ms. Kominsky-Crumb reflected on her evolution from the underworld to the mainstream.

“I chose to make things readable on the toilet,” she said. “Now that my work is taught at Harvard and women have written doctorates about my work, this really surprises me. So it’s full circle, if you persist long enough. And I guess if your work is meaningful it will eventually be recognized by the establishment.”


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