J. R. "Bob" Dobbs
is the figurehead
of the Church of the SubGenius
. His image is derived from a piece of 1950s pop-art
. According to SubGenius dogma, "Bob" was a drilling equipment salesman who, in 1953, saw a vision of God (JHVH-1
according to Church scriptures) on a television set he had built himself. The vision inspired him to write the "PreScriptures" (as described in the Book of the SubGenius
) and found the Church. The "theology" holds that "Bob" is the greatest salesman who ever lived, and has cheated death a number of times. He is also revered for his great follies and believed to be a savior of "slack
". He was assassinated in San Francisco
in 1984, though the Church states that he has come back from the dead several times since then.
The quotation marks in "Bob"'s name are always included when spelling his name, according to the Church.
"Bob"'s wife, Connie Dobbs, has become as legendary in SubGenius circles as "Bob" himself. Although "Bob" has been married to other women, spirits, deities, and inanimate objects (he was married to Eris, the Discordian mother Goddess for a while, though she grew tired of him and kicked him out), Connie is described in the SubGenius documentary Arise! as "his first, and still his primary wife." Connie is the patron of SubGenius women, and she is seen as a vision of true liberation for women. She refuses to submit to anyone (especially "Bob"), and she is just as free-wheeling and promiscuous as her husband... although she has a more level head on her shoulders when it comes to domestic issues.
According to Church lore, "Bob" travelled to Malaysia
and founded a secret enclave there, called Dobbstown
, where he often stays when he is not travelling. Few members of the Church of the SubGenius have ever seen Dobbstown in person, and it may be a legend similar to the legend of Shangri-La
Images of "Bob"
"Bob"'s image first appeared in the original SubGenius publication, SubGenius Pamphlet #1
(a.k.a. "The World Ends Tomorrow And You May Die") (1979). Since his initial appearance, his face has appeared in numerous places around the world, and it has made cameo appearances
on everything from graffiti art on highway
overpasses, to musical albums by many underground bands (and several popular mainstream rock bands, ranging from Devo
) and the occasional movie
(see The Wizard of Speed and Time
) and TV appearance (Pee-wee's Playhouse
). There are also two German comics with "Bob" ("Future Subjunkies" and "Space Bastards", both by Gerhard Seyfried
and Ziska Riemann
). The Church of the SubGenius maintains the trademark and copyright on "Bob"'s image, though it has tried to avoid taking legal action unless absolutely necessary.
"Bob"'s image is commonly seen on the Usenet newsgroup alt.binaries.slack, where he appears regularly in images by many artists. Proper etiquette on the newsgroup dictates that credit be given where it is due, and acknowledgement of the ownership of "Bob"'s image by the Church is accepted by the regular newsgroup participants.
Both "Bob" and SubGenius Foundation head Ivan Stang appear as characters in John Shirley's novel Kamus of Kadizar: The Black Hole of Carcosa.
It is also found on the musical group Sublime's CD artwork for the album "40 Ounces to Freedom".
Around 2002 the Church adopted a new symbol called the "Sacred Ikon", which is a stylized cross consisting of three bars and a pipe, placed in a pattern that matches the eyes, nose, mouth, and pipe of "Bob"'s image.
In its January 1, 2000 issue, a Time magazine
internet-based poll named J.R. "Bob" Dobbs the #1 "Phoney Or Fraud" of the 20th century.
Notes and references