What is R. Crumb and his publisher thinking?

national crumb
The National Crumb (August 1975)

Let me introduce my post with something that the Simons have released:


R. Crumb’s autobiography, authored by Mr. Crumb and Peter Poplaski, includes the unauthorized use of the cover of a Simon Studio publication from 1975 entitled The National Crumb.

“The National Crumb had nothing to do with R. Crumb,” Joe Simon states.”The publication was produced by my studio and edited by Jim Simon. The team of cover and design artists is prominently displayed on the contents page of The National Crumb but conveniently ignored more than 30 years later and attributed to Mr. Crumb.”

“The cover art of The National Crumb is not by Mr. Crumb and it has no resemblance to Mr. Crumb’s work,” Simon adds. “I do not understand why he is taking credit for it.”

The full page reproduction of The National Crumb in Mr. Crumb’s biography offers no authorship notice, implying it is the work of R. Crumb. The work in also listed in Mr. Crumb’s art index as Crumb’s creation, clearly but falsely indicating the art is by R. Crumb.

Joe Simon–co-creator of the iconic superhero Captain America–and head of the Joe Simon Studio has produced many properties over his long career, ranging from comic books to advertising to political campaign materials to covers for publications such as The New York Times Sunday magazines to the United States Olympics. Satire/parody properties from the Joe Simon Studio include the long-running SICK MAGAZINE, SOMETHING ELSE MAGAZINE, the afore-mentioned THE NATIONAL CRUMB, TEEN-MAN, THE CHRONICLES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINK, HECTOR PROTECTOR, and various paperbacks, annuals, and licensing products going back more than 65 years.

Simon properties have been licensed by major entertainment companies, including Time-Warner/DC Comics, DreamWorks, Batfilms, Marvel Entertainment, Archie Comics, Harvey Famous Worldwide, Hearst Entertainment, and HarperCollins Publishers.

“We are required to constantly keep watch over plagiarism and unauthorized use of our intellectual properties,” notes Jim Simon, who also oversees licensing.

The Simons have retained the law firm of Tedd Kessler, P.C., to protect their rights. The Simons comment that it would be a sad event if two members of The Comic Book Hall of Fame, Joe Simon and R. Crumb, who currently share space in a national museum exhibit, face each other in a court of law.

I have got to say I find this whole thing absolutely bizarre. R. Crumb is a significant and talented artist and I can understand someone trying to copy his style. But the cover to The National Crumb is nothing like that style. Normally when writing about misattributions I try to analyze the work itself, or at least provide examples to support my position. But in this case it just seems so unnecessary.

1 thought on “What is R. Crumb and his publisher thinking?

  1. Gif Clifford

    At the very least the publisher should give credit to the Joe Simon Studios for the work and make it clear in the book or remove the art from the book. Can’t believe R. Crumb thinks its his work and can’t understand why the publisher did not check its facts or seek permission from the Simons to use the art. R. Crumb should not being given credit and the publisher insisting on credit for work that is clearly not his makes both publisher and Crumb look ridiculous. I don’t blame the Simons for being upset with these guys. It recalls all those years the old comic book publishers ripped off the great artists and writers by not giving them credit, due compendation, or by stealing their properties outright. Has change in the comics field been so little since Siegel & Shuster, Kirby, Simon, and all the other golden agers?

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