Every month Rory Root adds 500 to 600 new titles to the already crowded shelves of Comic Relief, his densely packed store here specializing in illustrated novels, comic books and other expressions of the cartooning impulse. And every month, between 50 and 100 of those titles are by newcomers making their first appearance in print.
One new face who seems destined to go the distance, however, is the author of Belly Button Comix, a 32-page booklet published last month by Fantagraphics Books in Seattle. Identified only as Sophie on the cover, she is in fact Sophie Crumb, the 22-year-old daughter of the legendary counterculture cartoonist Robert Crumb and his cartoonist-turned-artist wife, Aline Kominsky-Crumb.
She decided to leave her last name off her first comic — despite her publisher's pleas — hoping that at least some people would read it without knowing who her father was. "If you compare me to him, I'll stop drawing right away," she said. "He's the best, so how can I be like that?"
Although Ms. Crumb's parents have always encouraged her artistic pursuits, they've also warned that it's difficult to make a living with cartoons. So she plans to travel to New York later this year to become an apprentice tattooist. "I'm happy to be learning a trade that I can make money off of," she said. "I still have to make comics, though. It's my fate."