Recently, I watched a documentary about the cartoonist Robert Crumb, called The Confessions of Robert Crumb. Some background: Robert Crumb is a self-described “underground cartoonist.” He made his start in the 1960s, and was part of the counterculture movement in San Francisco. He is known for his often irreverent, always obscene comic strips. Many of his cartoons portray Crumb next to large, Amazonian women, for whom he professes his lust, desire, and love throughout his work. He says, “See, I’m attracted to the big strong women. The physically superior type; powerful all-American brat girl.”
There are many obvious similarities between the artistry of Mundy and Crumb. Much like Mundy, Crumb was taken with the strong, atypical female form. Both obsess over women whom they categorize based on their class (“Brat” and “Laborer”). Lastly, and most striking to me, both men portray their own masculine forms as slight, effeminate figures next to Amazonian, fetishized representations of women.
Both Mundy and Crumb involve their wife in the infantilism fetish they so yearned for. Crumbs wife, like Cullwick, “also lifted him in her brawny arms, cradled him on her ample lap and “nursed” him like a child” (McClintock, 137).
Crumb was not interested in the masculinization of the female form, per se. His women retain their womanly figures, and their breasts and behinds are exaggerated. Unlike Mundy, who was interested “not because of any deliberate masquerade on their part, but because their labour masculinized their bodies” (96), for Crumb it is the woman’s own, hyperbolized form that renders her masculine in relation to his frail, delicate body. Her sexual virility renders her sexually superior to Crumb, and therefore masculinized through his eyes.
Two men, assigning their (would it be 0ld-fashinoned to call them perverted?) sexual fantasies onto the bodies of women… McClintock does a fascinating job of breaking down the societal taboos that so enchanted Mundy, thus presenting us an imagination of Victorian life, that behind their class and racialized disguises was an overt sexualization of the working class. Mundy couldn’t help himself.