Howard Cruse, author of the acclaimed graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby and founding editor of the anthology Gay Comix, died Tuesday of cancer at the age of 75, Cruse’s daughter Kimberly Kolze Venter announced.
Cruse came to prominence in the 1970s with the strip Barefootz, which appeared in a number of underground magazines and titles, but it was the 1980s title Gay Comix — an anthology created by Cruse to publish work by openly gay creators — that arguably made his reputation. Wendel, his strip about a young gay man in Reagan’s America for The Advocate during the same period, won him even more acclaim.
But he may be best known for Stuck Rubber Baby, which told the story of Toland Polk, a gas station attendant in the American South of the 1960s who gets caught up in the civil rights struggle of the period as he explores his own sexuality. The book, originally published by DC’s Paradox Press imprint, went on to win Eisner and Harvey Awards, and was nominated for both the America Library Association’s Lesbian and Gay Book Award as well as the Lambda Literary Award, and is scheduled for a 25th anniversary release next year from First Second Books.
For those of us in the ComicMix family, it’s personal. We saw Howard often at Martha’s famous holiday party, and were always happy to share donuts and conversation with him. We hope he’s found that great Purchaser’s Clearing House in the sky…
…what, you don’t know about the Purchaser’s Clearing House? Why, let Howard tell you all about it! Maestro?