Thursday, September 6, 2012

R. Crumb's Wild Dog Masthead

From a recent listing on eBay comes this extraordinary original artwork by R. Crumb from the collection of Dan O'Neill. After eleven offers were rejected, the listing was ended early and the drawing may have been sold outside of eBay.

R. Crumb, Wild Dog Masthead, 1985

While I'm not consistently a fan of his work, R. Crumb's drawing for the Wild Dog masthead is really something. The image invokes a fierce, even rabid defense of free speech. But to what end was this created? The publication Wild Dog, after all, defends a strip club in San Francisco. Was this really a free speech issue? Is the masthead invoking the spirit of Thomas Jefferson or Marilyn Chambers?

You've got to hand it to Dan O'Neill, though. He must be incredibly charismatic to involve talented Underground cartoonists in his controversial projects. I don't know whether anyone got paid for work on this broadside, although the Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre did support local Underground artists. Maybe this was all done out of loyalty.

How could Dan O'Neill, who also was the founder of the notorious Air Pirates, persuade others to join him in that financially-calamitous venture? "Let's plagiarize as many Disney characters as we can and draw them committing rude adult acts so Disney will have to sue us big time" doesn't sound like a compelling artistic cause to me. But perhaps it does explain why, decades and lawsuits later, O'Neill is selling off his art collection and getting his hands on some cold hard cash. Welcome to the real world, Dan.

Robert Crumb, Wild Dog Masthead, 1985

Robert Crumb, Wild Dog Masthead, published 1985

Robert Crumb, Victor Moscoso, Dan O'Neill, Wild Dog, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1985

Robert Crumb's Wild Dog Masthead Original Art, eBay Item Listing

Robert Crumb's Wild Dog Masthead Original Art, eBay Item Description

The original eBay listing doesn't end here, but goes on to quote extensively from Wikipedia entries on Dan O'Neill, Air Pirates, Robert Crumb, Victor Moscoso, and Dianne Feinstein. It's a huge amount of material and I'm not going to reproduce all that here, but there is some fascinating reading for anyone interested. In preparing this post, I also used the Wikipedia entry on Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre, which proved surprisingly helpful for this writer who knew nothing of this West Coast adult entertainment establishment. Honest.


No comments:

Post a Comment