Robert Crumb, one of the founders of the underground comix movement, lived in Ames as a youngster from 1950 to 1952. He was born in Philadelphia on August 30, 1943, the third child of Charles and Beatrice Crumb. The family moved back and forth between Philadelphia and Albert Lea, Minnesota, Charles’ hometown, and came to Ames in August of 1950. The Crumbs lived at 2718 Lincoln Way; some of the children attended Welch School. Charles was an instructor in the Naval R.O.T.C. program at Iowa State College during his two years here. As a Marine Corps sergeant, Charles took his family with him to his various assignments.
Robert, one of five children, was influenced by his older brother, Charles, jr. to draw comic books at an early age. For a time, Robert designed greeting cards at Cleveland-based American Greetings. In 1967, Crumb moved to San Francisco to be at the center of the counterculture scene. There he published Zap Comix that established his fame. Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural, the little bearded guru, are probably his best-known characters. The drawing, Keep on Truckin', became a pop culture favorite of the 1970s. Crumb was regarded as an anti-establishment icon, and his work became more satirical and bitter with time. In the early 1990s, Crumb traded six of his sketchbooks for a house in the south of France, where he still resides with his family.