So rumors have bandied about for a while now that comic genius R. Crumb’s “Mr. Natural” character was loosely based on Eden Ahbez’s life. From interviews I’ve done for my biography on Ahbez, I’ve heard from several of his friends that he could be both cranky and a horn-dog, from time to time — both traits bore out by the salacious-albeit-wise Mr. Natural of Crumb’s work.
To be sure, there exist several songs in the Ahbez canon that talk about times he spent in the Bay Area; I’ve also found a news clipping which notes an Ahbez sighting at the old Bop City jazz club in San Francisco. So we know he was no stranger to Crumb’s neck o’ the woods.
In any case, I recently came across this Crumb sketch (below) that, while not a direct link to Mr. Natural, the character, at least show’s Crumb’s familiarity with Ahbez’s music. [NOTE: The Eden’s Island Blog has no copyright clearance to post these images and will remove them immediately if asked to.]
If anyone out there has more information on the link between Ahbez and Mr. Natural, let us know in the comments section!