An expanded and updated edition of the 1990 cult-class comics memoir about the author's evolution from seemingly run-of-the-mill Jewish teenager from Long Island to feminist comics icon in San Francisco to housewife living in France with her husband, the infamous R. Crumb, and their daughter.
Taken together, the stories in Love That Bunch provide a compact, thematically rich autobiography, touching on every important aspect of Kominsky-Crumb's existence: family, sexual obsessions, food, motherhood, art, and various philisophical musings ... It's been a long, fraught journey and Kominsky-Crumb tells you all about it, in sometimes mortifying, often hilarious, occasionally moving, but always engaging detail. Lots and lots of detail ... I love her in-the-moment, scrawly, obsessively cross-hatched drawings. Her line appears untrained and often downright crude, but fearlessly committed to paper with a laissez-faire panache ... One of the most delightful aspects of The Bunch comics is their personal, conversational touch. Kominsky-Crumb peppers her stories with little asides and footnotes, aimed directly at readers, in a touching or humorous manner. These lend her comics a genuinely intimate feel, like notes jotted down in the margins of a personal letter ... I thought the original book could scarcely be improved upon, but making it bigger just made it better, and richer. I love this Bunch, most definitely.
In the new reissue of her 1990 collection, Love That Bunch, Aline Kominsky-Crumb confronts the crazy, ever-shifting expectations of how women are supposed to be—and blows them to smithereens. Her work invites us to ask what kind of life—what kind of freedom—is opened up by a refusal to be a good girl ... she’s a walking contradiction navigating a landscape of gendered double binds—and thus intensely relatable ... The Bunch’s story is an ugly one, in many ways, and Kominsky-Crumb’s selective attention to detail; her expressionistic style, which warps form in the service of emotion; and her willingness to veer into the grotesque convey that ugliness as nothing else could ... Perhaps most powerfully, she rejects the idea that for women, being beautiful and good is a prerequisite to finding—and perhaps even to deserving—love. Kominsky-Crumb not only dares to make herself ugly, she demands love anyway, and she gets it—from her husband and child, and maybe from the sympathetic reader.
Her denunciations of nose jobs, aerobics, pretension, the 1970s California lifestyle and (mostly) her own foibles are diverting, but repetitive. Kominsky-Crumb's main weapon against banality is her distinctive style. Married to one of the 20th century's greatest draftsmen, she doesn't even try to compete. Instead, she makes each panel a brutal, torturous act of rebellion against the very idea of artistic standards. Her compositions are haphazard, her figures follow no consistent anatomical rules and her word balloons are blobby and crowded. The constant chaos gives the eye a grueling workout ... To watch her constantly shaking off her mannered inclinations in favor of ferocious, childlike scrawling is exhausting ... But the value of Kominsky-Crumb's style is precisely that it confounds the expectations of highbrow critics ... Like the stiff self-portrait on the front, this book's bulkiness and erudite intro belie the very qualities that make its contents—however flawed—fascinating.