Drag Queens and Gay Marriage Featured in R. Crumb's Axed 'New Yorker' Cover

getting marriage license Drag Queens and Gay Marriage Featured in R. Crumb's Axed 'New Yorker' Cover

Crumb's cover

Robert Crumb, the alt-comic writer with a piggyback fetish, has always been ahead of his time. That’s what made his comics–usually featuring giant Amazonian women with humungous thighs as a chronic masturbatory fantasy– so transgressive to begin with.

But for all his former subversiveness, Mr. Crumb is pretty mainstream nowadays. Maybe not New Yorker mainstream though: Vice magazine unearthed a 2009 drawing from the cartoonist that was rejected by David Remnick‘s magazine. Though an answer was never given on why the cover wasn’t run, Mr. Crumb suspects it was because the New Yorker was too afraid of offending people with the image of a (possible?) drag queen and a twee person of unidentifiable sex trying talking to a sweating official from the marriage license bureau, with a sign pointing to a “Genders Inspection” office next to his window.

Below, a high res image of the cartoon, which was discovered at the Venice Biennale in June.

getting marriage license1 Drag Queens and Gay Marriage Featured in R. Crumb's Axed 'New Yorker' Cover

Since Mr. Crumb has drawn for the New Yorker before (though now refuses to), we doubt that it was the cartoon’s scandalous nature that led to it getting the axe. The magazine just never ran a gay marriage cover drawing in 2009. If Mr. Crumb had submitted it this year, when gay marriage was actually passed in New York and the New Yorker featured a cartoon of two women walking down the isle, it very well may have passed the P.C. test.


  1. Jonathan Nye says:

    interesting– “lost” Crumb art

  2. Charles says:

    I don’t understand why the person who wrote this article can’t see the difference between this offensive, homophobic and transphobic vision of same sex marriage, and the positive celebration of it that was published in 2009 (linked in the article).

    It’s not a question of “PCness” test, as if the two were equivalent but one was made later. It’s a question that the Crumb’s was homophobic and transphobic (though no doubt under the cover of being “provocative”), with a splatter of old clichés usually only spewed out now by the extreme right. While the second was a nice positive view of marriage equality.

    1. Anonymous says:

      the truth is that yes, while the couple pictured is unusual, they are hardly offensive. there are couples just like them. it demeans those people to call them offensive and stereotypical merely because conservative bullies use the most radical expressions of our community to define all of us.

      arguing from the basis that the couple is a conservative stereotype, I can agree with. arguing that they are offensive, though? that just means you’ve bought the propaganda of the extreme right hook, line and sinker.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It seems very clear to me why this was rejected. This might have been seen as edgy and appropriate in 1972.