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The Official R.Crumb Site
A collection of interviews and articles on R.Crumb's life and work, written by Crumb himself.
Letter to Viking Press, 1968
We have unearthed the following letter which Crumb wrote to Viking Press, regarding the Head Comix book project, sometime in 1968. It is in Crumb's distinctive, hand-lettered script. The letter was originally sent to William Cole, who was the liaison between Crumb and Viking Press. It was inherited by William Cole Jr., who was kind enough to send us a scan of it. (Transcription below.):
You guys are a bunch of chicken-hearted, namby-pamby, nervous-nelly muthafuckas!!!
I did like ya told me; no cunts, pricks or views of creatures in th’ act of doing it…it was really hard to resist the temptation of showing Fritz with a great big ol’ dong hanin’ down there twixt his legs…that was difficult to repress, but listen, have faith…tell Viking Press to have faith…tell the salesman to have faith. It’ll sell like hot cakes…fuck the respectable book stores…if Viking can’t do that, maybe they should sell the rights to Grove Press for the $2500 they paid me…somebody ought to show some guts here…hell, the public is crying for it…the problem certainly is not that it won’t sell…the problem seems to me to be Viking’s self-image, which seems to be choking on right now…
Maybe my stuff just isn’t right for the Viking Press-type market…I mean, if the type of stores they sell to just son’t take it, there are certainly plenty of other stores that will…
Man, I really hate to think of some of the deletions you listed…”Let’s take a shower and do it again”…what’s the sense in that? What’s wrong with “fuck some more”…I know, it’s not you who objects, no even anyone at Viking , nor the salesman, probably the book store clerks would even say the same thing…so WHO objects…a few ol’ ladies maybe…
And another thing…that Bolshevik character is a take-off on about ten people I know are exactly like that…what’s going on here? Are the worried about being called communists? What? The whole thing is utterly ridiculous!!
And the sadistic part is also a take-off on about four such stories as I’ve from friends of mine, and I’ve seen worse…beside, they don’t tie her up and beat her, they tie her up and call her names and make threats and then they fuck her…what’s so bad anyway?
Somehow I have the felling I’m talking to a brick wall…trying to swim up a waterfall…It’d be easier just to give up on it and say, OK, do what you want…you’ve already paid me, I’m livin’ off the money for Chrissake, I’ve signed the contract…what the hell…what do I care what you do with it? Except that I remember how I felt when I saw the censorship in the first book…how sick it made me…here is a beautifully printed book on my stuff, only it’s censored, cut up, watered down, fucked-over by a bunch of Status-Quo-fuckin’ executives…fuck that shit!!
Times is changin, Bill…changin’ fast…when I was doin’ that new Fritz stuff, I kept in mind that I wouldn’t put anything in it that I thought would make the people who buy my stuff NOT buy it…I kept in my mind what I figured was the general market for my stuff…college-age kids and liberal -minded older people…and I firmly believe that these people wold buy a Fritz book even though he is holding a tit on the cover…in fact, I think I’m hip enough to have discerned that the cover will increase sales…
The trouble with you guys is, you just don’t know what’s happening!! You’re out of touch.
If you could just trust it, it would sell a million…
Them Snatch Comics go as fast as we can print them, but we’re still just a small operation, and you wanna know why? Because all the big-shot publishers are scared of it…just a bunch of ulcer-ridden cowards, cynics, placid sex-hungry, despair-infested exploiters, feeding their fat consumer faces with he junk they force millions of people to turn out for them because they’re BORED…the faith of their youth, if they ever had any, has long since been crushed by confusion, despair, ignorance and wrong thinking…they’re so far gone they’ll never get back…but they hold the power, the money, they manipulate the huge masses of energy by technology, the labor of millions of men who hunger to see some results of their empty, work-worn days and who vote for George Wallace because they hate all you candy-assed liberal cowards! They work for you…they labor in your factories to produce the plastic goop created by cowards…
Somewhere, somehow, something’s gotta give…it can’t go on like this forever…people will get tired of it…people are getting tired of it…I’m tired of it…why should I expend all my energy doing stuff for some big boss man who says, “No,” thumb’s down, if I say something he doesn’t like? The hell with his money!! I’ll get my own printing press…I’ll get my own distribution…if that doesn’t work, I’ll mow lawns, sell beads on Haight Street…why should I end up hating myself because I played along with the whims and fat-cat business fears of Viking Press…let them get ulcers, let them live in guilt and fear…I don’t want to…so you can tell Viking Press for me: FUCK YOU!
Love and all good wishes: