Sadly, iconic gay cartoonist Howard Cruise passed away November 26, 2019 from cancer. He was 75 years old and is survived by his husband, Eddie Sedarbaum and his daughter Kimberly Kolze Venter.
Cruse broke ground in the 1970s in New York City’s underground comic scene as an artist exploring gay culture via his comics. He edited the comic book series Gay Comix and might be best known for the strip Wendell which appeared in The Advocate for many years.
His graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby earned rave reviews and legions of new fans. Via Copacetic Comics:
Stuck Rubber Baby is one of the few graphic novels that really and truly succeeds as a novel on the novel’s terms (at the time this review was written, in 2003 – editor’s note). 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.
The story unfolds primarily within the community of Clayfield. Its downtown, bedroom suburbs, and small college on the outskirts, with buses and bridges connecting it all, together serve as a synecdoche for “The South” as it was then known. As Cruse grew up in Birmingham, Alabama during this period, he knows whereof he speaks and it shows: Clayfield, though entirely fictional, is nevertheless thoroughly believable. It is the characters, however, that will stick in your mind long after the images of Clayfield have faded. The inhabitants of the world of Stuck Rubber Baby are far from your typical Southerners, yet they are every bit a product of The South. These characters while archetypical in many respects are nevertheless highly original and, with the notable exception of the mayor of Clayfield, Sutton Chopper, fairly free from cliché.
A toast to Howard Cruse.