Stuck Rubber Baby is one of the few graphic novels that really and truly succeeds as a novel on the novel’s terms. It is an extraordinarily complex and rich tapestry of characters deftly woven into the fabric of a specific time and place: a mid-sized community in the deep south during the civil rights era. While this book was originally released in 1995, its recent reprinting makes it appropriate to revisit it at this time. Please click on the image at left to read our full length review.
Howard Cruse is pretty much universally considered the leading pioneer of gay comics, having founded the early underground comic book anthology series, Gay Comix, penned the ground-breaking graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby, and produced the long-running Wendel series for The Advocate, but as with everything involved with personal identities and labels, there is more to being gay than being gay. The Other Sides of Howard Cruse provides a look at three decades (the '70s, '80s & '90s) worth of Howard Cruse's comics that are not specifically gay-themed. The comics here – most long out of print – range far and wide, and taken together create a multi-faceted self-portrait of the artist. The bulk of this – about 100 pages – takes the form of his long-running Barefootz series that originally appeared in a number of Alabama(!)-based publications. These works took a variety of forms ranging from 1/2-page and full-page strips, to longer – up to ten pages – stories. The collection is rounded out by another 100 or so pages of Cruse's observations-in-comics of the world around him, ranging from thoughts on comics to UFOs to tooth care and more. Yes, certainly these observations are made from and informed by the perspective of being gay, but by being so, they help provide a well-rounded, multi-dimensional portrait of gay consciousness. So it is fitting that this collection has been released to more or less coincide with No Straight Lines.
We just got our hands on a big stack of this great comics anthology from 2005 that is a celebration of all things lesbian and gay, with a strong focus on the former. Editor, Jennifer Camper did an excellent job putting this one together, as there is an amazing selection of great, hard-to-find, black and white comics squeezed into this 88 page anthology by both well and lesser known creators. This anthology also includes a rare instance of the cartoon jam: "The Party" features Jennifer Camper, Howard Cruse, Diane DiMassa, Rupert Kinnard, Alison Bechdel and Ivan Velez, Jr. letting their inhibitions fly!