This is a unique volume, an artistic autobiography of year-by-year sketchbook drawings, ranging from the scrawls of a two-year-old to a fully developed vision.
The book’s publication will initially draw attention because of the 29-year-old artist’s parents, R. Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb, who made the selections with their daughter from thousands of previously unpublished drawings, saved and dated by her “compulsive archivist” father. But, as her proud papa recognizes, the real fascination with this book is the way it allows the reader “to track the development, the evolution, of a given human being through the medium of drawing…” He adds: “One can look at this book as a sort of clinical study, a psychological textbook.” The apple didn’t fall far from the familial cartooning tree, as the maturation of Sophie’s style attests, but this progression would be significant even if the artist had a different surname and background. What her mother calls her “wacky personal style” is fully evident by the age of four (“Family Peeing”). By seven, her imagination was capable of rendering a girl turning into a pizza slice, and by eight she had mastered a more realistic manner of drawing that could pass for a high schooler’s. By ten, she had her own comic strips and books (“WOW Comics! For kids only. Maybe if adults really want to read it they can!"), and through adolescence she used her art as a way to process not only the typical traumas but the shadow cast by a famous father (“The Legend”). Drawn at age 20, the three-step “Try to Do Away With Your Negative Thoughts” is as cathartic as cartooning gets. Ultimately, she concludes, “I figure if I can put all the abnormality, perversion and zaniness onto paper and still manage to be a partially normal mother to my kids, I will have done all right.”