Book Review: Need More Love by Aline Kominsky Crumb

February 28, 2007

In what could best be described as a mixed-media autobiography, underground comic author Aline Kominsky Crumb pieces together her real-life comics, written text, interviews, paintings and photographs to capture a life less ordinary in Need More Love: A Graphic Memoir.  From chronicling her warring parents and emotionally abusive father (“you can’t shine shit” he says of her use of makeup as a teen) to her sexually promiscuous early adulthood (which included getting pregnant and giving the baby up for adoption) to her non-traditional 30-plus year marriage to legendary comic writer R. Crumb (Fritz the Cat, Mister Natural), Aline Kominsky Crumb has plenty of material to fill the book’s 400+ pages.

Kominsky Crumb’s childhood on Long Island obviously resonates deeply with her, as multiple comics discuss her father’s poor treatment of her and his questionable business enterprises that seem to have included mob connections.  While she continually draws herself as ugly and fat in these comics, pictures interspersed throughout show her to be a cute, normal girl quite unlike that of her imagination.  Her father’s death from cancer at 42 adds to the strange dynamics of her memories.

An early marriage, followed by a a move to Arizona, followed by an early divorce lead to Aline Kominsky’s San Francisco advenure, where she falls in with a group of women chronicling their experiences through comics. Kominsky becomes part of the scene and meets R. Crumb during this period. Her relationship with him strains her relations with the women authors, as R. Crumb (and perhaps men in general) are seen as at best misogynist and at worst the enemy. Aline’s not interested in going that route.

In many ways, Aline Kominsky and R. Crumb’s life together from that point is traditional storybook, living out in the country, having a daughter—if it wasn’t for that pesky open-marriage thing.  She talks about or alludes to multiple affairs on both sides of the ledger that remind you the marriage isn’t quite as traditional as it appears on its face.  In fact, she describes having a “second husband” in France (where she and R. Crumb live) and his dalliances when he returns to the United States for business reasons. Well, you wouldn’t expect underground artists to be completely normal, would you?

Need More Love is an interesting ride for any reader, but will especially appeal to fans of R. Crumb and/or Aline or graphic novel fans in general. In addition to the many photos, you’ll also get plenty of Aline’s solo work and many of the combination comics that the husband-wife team created together.  (Aline says R. Crumb fans complained about her artwork when put up against his in these collaborations.)  But don’t be surprised if your own life seems a bit dull in comparison.

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Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.


One comment

  1. Aline Kominsky-Crumb seems like a very nice (actually very fun) lady, and you’re right, she is cute, occasionally even sexy (which sort of goes hand in hand with fun), but the best thing about her book is the too few excerpts of her husband’s work. Especially funny is the comic strip the Mr and Mrs worked on together.

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