Somebody asked me why R. Crumb’s WEIRDO comic book wasn’t more commercially successful

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WEIRDO was a somewhat obscure comic book that R. Crumb published from 1981 to 1993. 28 issues in all.

Crumb is mostly noted for doing the ZAP underground comic book — the first issue of which he published in the Summer of Love (so-called) while he was living in the Haight-Ashbury in 1967. So it’s like a historical icon of those times. And they sold zillions of copies of ZAP. It’s like the comic equivalent of Sgt Pepper.

Another thing Crumb is noted for is his iconic Janis Joplin album cover.

And another thing Crumb is known for is his “Keep On Truckin'” cartoon. Which ended up everywhere.  I once noticed that Tony Danza — the actor from the TV sitcom Taxi — had Crumb’s “Keep On Truckin'” cartoon tattooed on his arm. So it’s an iconic image

Crumb is also known for his “Fritz the Cat” cartoon. Which the schlock film maker Ralph Bakshi turned into the first X-rated animated Hollywood movie

Crumb is also noted for his famous Mr. Natural cartoon character.

But Crumb’s WEIRDO comic book mostly flew under the radar. Why was WEIRDO relatively obscure? There were probably a bunch of reasons for that. For one, what Crumb published was a reflection of his personal tastes, which could be pretty weird and eclectic (he published me, for example). Another was distribution. WEIRDO was hard to find, you really had to seek it out if you wanted to buy a copy. And another was timing. When ZAP first hit it was right when the ’60s hippie counterculture was exploding. There was no similar wave for WEIRDO to ride on.

And yet ultimately, WEIRDO might end up being one of the more interesting things in the Crumb canon.

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