R Crumb, the Father of Underground Comix, Takes Down Donald Trump in a NSFW 1989 Cartoon

trump-crumbTrump Crumb

Nature’s way is to take away from those that have too much and give to those that have too lit­tle. Man’s way, on the con­trary, is to take away from those who have too lit­tle to give more to those who already have too much. 

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, cir­ca 500 BC

Two and a half thou­sand years lat­er, the ancient sage’s quote con­tin­ues to res­onate, espe­cial­ly in this elec­tion year.

Lest we get too gloomy, there is anoth­er quote I would like to sub­mit:

And isn’t this a nut­ty kin­da coun­try where you can draw any irrev­er­ent, degrad­ing thing about the most pow­er­ful peo­ple and nobody cares! You don’t get jailed. You don’t get per­se­cut­ed. They just ice you out of the mar­ket­place. 

- R Crumb, Hup, 1989

Crumb is to under­ground comix as Lao Tzu was to Tao­ism, but the fame Crumb achieved in the late 60s and ear­ly 70s did not pro­tect him from the 80s, “an awful decade” as he told the Observ­er. His aston­ish­ing cre­ative out­put nev­er flagged, but he hat­ed the cul­ture and strug­gled to make ends meet:

…it all grad­u­al­ly fell apart through the 70s, and by the 80s with the rise of the yup­pies, Reagan’s elec­tion and the real estate boom. In Cal­i­for­nia it was always about real estate ever since the Gold Rush, but the 80’s saw a new explo­sion of it. They went crazy. Every­body was get­ting their real estate license. They kept on build­ing these hideous hous­ing devel­op­ments where we lived. It used to be farm­land there when we first arrived, then every­thing became a fight. Dow Chem­i­cal tried to come there, we fought that. Then the Super Col­lid­er, we fought that. It was this con­stant bat­tle against these forces of devel­op­ment and busi­ness. 

In 1991, he fled Amer­i­ca for a small vil­lage in South­ern France, a pre­scient move, giv­en “Point the Fin­ger,” a com­ic pub­lished two years ear­li­er in his short-lived Hup series. The semi-fic­tion­al five-pager pits Crumb him­self against real estate devel­op­er Don­ald Trump, billed as “one of the more vis­i­ble big time preda­tors who feed on soci­ety,” as well as “one of the most evil men alive.”

The then-42-year-old Trump is quick to take Crum­b’s bait, pil­ing on some insults of his own. He may not be famil­iar with the car­toon­ist’s work, but he knows how to mount an attack, with labels like “crass,” “venal,” “some kind of self-styled ter­ror­ist,” “the pic­ture of neg­a­tiv­i­ty,” and “filled with hate.” Had Crumb set this smack down on a beach, Trump would be the bul­ly kick­ing sand in the scrawny nerd’s face, as a cou­ple of hot babes look on, admir­ing­ly.

In fact, the com­ic comes very close to end­ing on such a note. Two of Crumb’s char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly pow­er­ful­ly-thigh­ed females are on hand, osten­si­bly as mem­bers of his camp. Their heads are quick­ly turned, how­ev­er, by an invi­ta­tion to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s lav­ish Palm Beach estate. The Don­ald starts look­ing pret­ty good to Tra­cy and Marny, bedaz­zled by the promise of ban­quets, man­i­cures, world-class enter­tain­ment, and a hedo­nis­tic after-hours romp with Trump and his then-wife Ivana.

The car­toon­ist, defeat­ed, com­pares the tycoon to Tri­mal­chio, the vul­gar but loaded host of Petro­n­ius’ Satyri­con, before prepar­ing to take things out with the Lao Tzu quote at the top of this post.

It’s here that things take a turn for the meta, as Stan “the Man” Shnoot­er, the self-assured fic­tion­al pro­duc­er of Hup, ral­lies Crumb to assert autho­r­i­al con­trol.

Crumb rewinds to a piv­otal moment. In this redo, Tra­cy and Marny remain stead­fast. The bul­ly is frog­marched to the toi­let to be giv­en a taste of his own med­i­cine. The saga draws to a close with the sort of acro­bat­ic, ques­tion­ably con­sen­su­al, NSFW sex that has rained fem­i­nist ire on Crumb for years, as the unlike­ly con­quer­er savors vic­to­ry in his pre­ferred style.

Is it fan­ta­sy? Real­i­ty? All just a dream?

(Any way you slice it, I’m pret­ty sure Tra­cy and Marny aren’t the win­ners…)

You can check out Crumb’s 1989 Trump com­ic in its extreme­ly NSFW entire­ty here or buy Hup, Issue 3 to read it the old fash­ioned way. Some of the tamer pan­els can be sam­pled here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

R. Crumb Shows Us How He Illus­trat­ed Gen­e­sis: A Faith­ful, Idio­syn­crat­ic Illus­tra­tion of All 50 Chap­ters

R. Crumb Describes How He Dropped LSD in the 60s & Instant­ly Dis­cov­ered His Artis­tic Style

Noam Chom­sky on Whether the Rise of Trump Resem­bles the Rise of Fas­cism in 1930s Ger­many

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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