Gay marriage too holy for satire at New Yorker Magazine
Perhaps The New Yorker magazine wasn't really familiar with the work of comic artist Robert Crumb when they commissioned him to design a cover illustrating gay marriage. Crumb's Rabelaisian underground comic books included Mr. Natural, all 16 issues of Zap Comix, and Fritz the Cat. His riveting work is an odd combination of 1960's psychedelia and 1920's style illustration with a heavy anti-establishment tinge fueled by a hyper-charged sexuality. A simple perusal of any of Mr. Crumb's work would provide ample evidence of both his skill and his desire to shock his audience. Apparently, New Yorker editor, David Remnick, failed to exercise due diligence in this matter and rejected the artist's work. Crumb claims that the rejection of his design was signaled by the return of his original artwork with no explanation and no reason for the rejection was ever provided.
Now that gay marriage is becoming the establishment position, at least in deep Blue America, Crumb let loose with his rapier satiric wit in the cover illustrated below:
Robert Crumb is a member of Will Eisner's Comic Book Hall of Fame. Born in Philadelphia in 1943, he moved to San Francisco in 1967 and developed a cult following with his work during the seventies which included the cover illustration for Cheap Thrills by Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company.
The artwork for the New Yorker cover survives as a bookmark provided for the Venice Biennale and was discovered by Nadia Sayej at Vice magazine. The artist wasn't even aware that his cover was being used by the Biennale.
Not surprisingly, Robert Crumb is in favor of gay marriage. His explanation of the illustration demonstrates how confusing the gender wars have made sexuality and the issue of gay marriage for modern Americans. He was asked to clarify the gender of the people in the illustration and responded:
The verdict isn't in, that's the whole point. Banning gay marriage is ridiculous because how are you supposed to tell what f***ing gender anybody is if they're bending it around? It could be anything-a she-male marrying a transsexual, or what the hell. People are capable of any sexual thing. To ban their marriage because someone doesn't like the idea of both of them being the same sex, that's ridiculous. That was the whole point of the cover: here is this official from the marriage license bureau, and he can't tell if he's seeing a man and a woman or two women. What the hell are they? You can't tell what they are! I had the idea of making them both look unisex, no gender at all. On TV once I saw this person who is crusading against sexual definition, and you could not tell if this person was male or female-completely asexual. I was originally going to do the cover that way, but when I drew that it just looked uninteresting so I decided it should be more lurid somehow.
Lurid indeed, yet concise and the perfect illustration of how baffling 21st century sexuality has become. Thanks Mr. Crumb. Sorry the New Yorker didn't have the decency to use to your insightful work.
Ralph Alter is a regular contributor to American Thinker.