Aline Kominsky-Crumb, feminist underground cartoonist, dead at 74

Aline Kominsky-Crumb, an underground feminist cartoonist whose dark, raunchy comics in the 1970s made her a heroine to women worldwide, died Wednesday. She was 74.

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Kominsky-Crumb died at her home in a village near Nimes, France, The Washington Post reported. The cause of death was cancer, Alexander Wood, the manager of the website that sells the cartoonist’s work, told The Associated Press. Her husband, cartoonist Robert Crumb, told the Post that she died of pancreatic cancer.

“She was the hub of the wheel within her family and community,” the website wrote in announcing her death. “She had a huge amount of energy which she poured into her artwork, her daughter, her grandchildren and the meals which brought everyone together.”

Kominsky-Crumb was a close collaborator of her cartoonist husband, Robert Crumb, but she had her own style of drawing. Her black-and-white cartoons depicted the sexualized counterculture through stories of women who were not glamorous.

The women were self-depictions of Kominsky-Crumb, who once said, “I’m not capable of making anything up,” according to the Post.

Working with her husband and then on her own, Kominsky-Crumb emphasized raw accountability and subverted crude stereotypes in her drawings that featured Jewish women, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“I was drawn to underground comics because I wanted to do something that people would throw away,” Kominsky-Crumb said in a 2020 interview with a German art journal. “Basically, they’d read it on the toilet and throw (it) away. That’s what I like.”

Her characters were “made up of exaggerated parts of me that I blow up and push to the maximum,” Kominsky-Crumb told the Huffington Post in 2017. “I drew the most sordid, unacceptable parts of myself. I’m not as ugly as I draw myself. But when I was younger, that’s how I felt, so that’s what I drew.”

Kominsky-Crumb published a graphic memoir, “Need More Love,” in 2007, a collection of her artwork over four decades. She also published “Love That Bunch” in 1990, and the work was expanded in 2018, the AP reported.

Aline Ricky Goldsmith was born in 1948 in the Five Towns area of Long Island, New York, according to the Post.

“My family was really barbaric,” Kominsky-Crumb told the Huffington Post. “My father was a wannabe criminal. If he could have been a ‘Goodfella,’ he would have. But he wasn’t Italian. He was Jewish. So he was a total loser.”

She married Carl Kominsky in 1968 and the couple moved to Arizona, the Post reported. After splitting up with Kominsky, the cartoonist met Robert Crumb at a party in 1971.

Kominsky-Crumb was once asked by readers of The Guardian what it was like being married to a genius.

“Robert is the best dishwasher I’ve ever met and he’s fun to talk to at the breakfast table,” she said. “He always laughs at my jokes and is my best fan. And that’s what it feels like to live with a genius to me.”


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