“The Yum Yum Book” by Robert Crumb

Good morning everyone,

Welcome back to There She Grows! Today’s review will cover an illustrated story “The Yum Yum Book” by Robert Crumb. Robert Crumb is an influential American cartoonist who was born in 1943 in Philadelphia. He contributed to underground publications Yarrowstalks and Zap Comix beginning in the 1960s. He also created Fritz the Cat and the Keep On Truckin’ comic. Keep On Truckin’ appeared on numerous unauthorized merchandise after its initial release in 1968.

Crumb drew large plump women. Some of his comics came rather close to giantess themes. Comics such as “Anal Antics” in which small men, call Snoids, live in women’s assholes and “R. Crumb versus The Sisterhood” in which a man (somehow) fits his entire body inside a tall woman’s vagina. (NOTE: She was tall, but not inhumanly so. She appeared to be less than seven feet in height). Accordingly, artists and writers of Amazons and giantesses such as Biggals, Julius Zimmerman, and Sabrina Pandora were inspired by his work.

This drawing by Julius Zimmerman was clearly inspired by Crumb. Although, I would argue that this woman is a smidgen thinner at the waist and bigger at the bust than Crumb’s women.

He often signed his work as R. Crumb and originally presented “The Yum Yum Book” to girlfriend Dana Morgan in 1963. The book took six months to create and the coloring was done solely with Prismacolor pencils.

Robert and Dana were married in 1964, but divorced in 1978. He gave the rights to The Yum Yum Book to Dana as part of the divorce settlement. According to the introduction by Harvey Pekar, a fellow underground cartoonist, this book meant a great deal to Dana and she considered it a love story.

The Yum Yum Book was first published in 1975 and was later re-released as “Big Yum Yum Book: The Story of Oggie and the Beanstalk” in 1995.

The protagonist is a “sad, hung-up toad named Ogden.” He was sent by his father to university in the hope that Ogden (a.k.a. Oggie) would master the business knowledge and skills to work in his father’s company. Company was called “Mud Works” so presumably they made (or worked with) mud. Unfortunately, right from the beginning Oggie was unenthusiastic.

Oggie was a lost soul unable to fit into the artistic, business, intellectual, or religious groups at college. No matter where he went satisfaction was not to be found. Even the pleasure of making love to a woman was denied him due to a substantial lack of desirable qualities.

Wait a minute, writers are in? Sweet!

Eventually, Oggie’s frustration boiled over and during a drunken stupor he took out his anger on several innocent elderly ladybugs who “infest” the cramped room that he shared with many other college students.

At this junction it’s important to note that this should be read as a metaphorical tale and should not be read literally. If taken literally then Oggie was a careless monster who killed other sentient beings. Conversely, if taken as metaphor than readers can identify with Oggie as a young man who doesn’t know what to do with his life and inadvertently hurts others during his quest for meaning. That’s a common enough experience.

I remember times when as a young man I hurt family and friends due to my ignorance or lack of understanding of how my actions would affect other people. Did I kill anyone? No, of course not! However, I made mistakes and like Oggie I experienced guilt due to the results of my actions.

Returning to the plot, Oggie was consumed with remorse and worry. He buried the ladybugs to prevent law enforcement from discovering the grisly crime. The next day a rapidly growing beanstalk sprouted up from their grave and wrapped a vine around Oggie’s leg. The beanstalk carried the toad far into the sky until he arrived on another planet which resembled Eden. (NOTE: Remember the recommendation to read this as metaphorical? That also prevents pesky questions concerning how an air-breathing toad survived a trip through the cold airless vacuum of outer space to another planet. For that matter, it also removes the need to explain talking animals.)

At first, the new planet was a welcome respite from the stress of Oggie finding his way as an adult. Seemingly lacking any other people (or obligations) and filled with delicious food this place made for an easy life. Despite the idyllic conditions, the toad became bored over time.

After venturing through a dark scary forest he heard a woman singing. This was his introduction to Guntra, a naked young lady who was a giant compared to Oggie. Initially, Guntra appeared pleasant enough. Until we learn that she had an appetite for eating little animals like birds, cats, dogs, mice, rabbits, and, most worryingly, toads! She claimed that there were millions of such critters on the planet until she ate them. That’s quite an appetite! Guntra attempted to devour Oggie, but he managed to escape.

Safe in the surrounding underbrush, Oggie was unable to return to the area where he first arrived. Instead, he was obsessed with Guntra and thus was unable to leave. She attempted to lure him out of hiding and into her belly, but he managed to steal a kiss then quickly flee. This began an unusual courtship in which the toad stole kisses and brief conversations while his paramour fought the temptation to eat him.

Eventually, their relationship evolved into a far more typical one and the narrative concluded with a happily ever after. I will omit any other details about the story, but will instead suggest readers check it out for themselves.

The Yum Yum Book, made in 1963, was not overtly sexual (featuring only kissing and topless nudity) in contrast to Crumb’s later works from the late 60s and beyond. Nonetheless, it demonstrated that the medium of drawings could cover mature topics, beyond only sex, just as well as other artistic mediums. That lesson, that animation and comics are deserving of adult consideration, is one which sadly has to be continually taught in the United States. In a March 2023 article by Eric Vilas-Boas for Vulture, ‘It’s Kind of Embarrassing’: Why Animators Are Unhappy With the Oscars, Eric stated that animators never liked hearing that their art was only for kids. Despite the Academy’s creation of the Best Animated Feature category in 2002, animators still struggle to find recognition. Per the article:

It’s common for them to find their work pigeonholed as a “genre” for children rather than a medium that encompasses myriad filmmaking techniques and infinite story possibilities.

Therefore, it’s important to emphasize that animation and comics like The Yum Yum Book can address mature problems and feelings. Problems like the uncertainty when a young person leaves home and attempts to build a life. Feelings like the ecstasy of finding purpose in the love of another person.

Overall, The Yum Yum Book is recommended. As of this writing, hard copies can be found at AbeBooks, Amazon, eBay, ThriftBooks, etc. To the best of my knowledge, no (legit) digital copies are available.

That’s it for today folks. Next week’s review should cover a requested series from Botcomics. Until then, keep growing!

This review was written by SolomonG and is protected under Fair Use copyright law.

All Rights Reserved.

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