Cruse was raised in Springville, Alabama, the son of a preacher and a homemaker. His earliest published cartoons were in The Baptist Student when he was in high school. His work later appeared in Fooey and Sick. He attended high school at Indian Springs School in (what is now) Indian Springs, Alabama, and college at Birmingham-Southern College, where he studied drama, and had a brief career in television. In 1977, Cruse moved to New York City, and two years later he met Eddie Sedarbaum (born December 1, 1945), his life partner, whom he married after moving to North Adams, Massachusetts.
Cruse's cartooning first attracted nation-wide attention in the 1970s, when he contributed to underground comix publications. His best-known character from this period was Barefootz, the title character of a surreal series about a good-natured, well-dressed young man with large bare feet. Although dismissed by many underground fans as overly "cutesy", others found it a refreshing change of pace from "edgier" comix. (Picture: Howard Cruse and Eddie Sedarbaum in 1979)
Cruse had been open about his homosexuality throughout the 1970s, but never acknowledged it in his work. This changed in 1979, when he began editing Gay Comix, a new anthology featuring comix by openly gay and lesbian cartoonists. For much of the 1980s, he created Wendel, a strip (1-2 pages per episode) about an irrepressible and idealistic gay man, his lover Ollie, and a cast of diverse urban characters. It was published in the gay newsmagazine The Advocate, which allowed Cruse substantial freedom in terms of language and nudity, and to address content such as AIDS, gay rights demonstrations, gay-bashing, closeted celebrities, and same-gender relationships, with a combination of humor and anger. Two collections of these strips have been published, as well as an all-in-one volume.
©Lilyan Aloma (http://www.alomaphoto.com). Howard Cruse & Eddie Sedarbaum, in their mid-thirties (©15)
Howard Cruse is an American alternative cartoonist known for the exploration of gay themes in his comics. In 1977, Cruse moved to New York City, and two years later he met Eddie Sedarbaum, his life partner, whom he married after moving to North Adams, Massachusetts on July 25, 2004. Cruse's cartooning first attracted nation-wide attention in the 1970s. For much of the 1980s, he created Wendel, a strip about an irrepressible and idealistic gay man and his lover Ollie.
©Joe Wheaton, Courtesy of Howard Cruse. Eddie and Howard’s wedding ceremony on July 25, 2004, the year that same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts (©15)
Cruse spent the first half of the 1990s creating Stuck Rubber Baby, a 210-page graphic novel commissioned by editor Mark Nevelow for his DC Comics imprint Piranha Press but eventually published by DC's Paradox Press. It is the story of Toland Polk, a young man growing up in the American South in the 1960s, and his growing awareness of both his own homosexuality and the racial injustice of American society. The book features Cruse's most detailed and realistic comics art and his most serious and complex storytelling. It received numerous awards and nominations.
Cruse briefly wrote a column in a comic book review magazine, Comics Scene, under the rhyming masthead "Loose Cruse".
Cruse is a regular contributor to the ongoing queer comics anthology Juicy Mother, edited by Jennifer Camper, which first appeared in 2005 and then in 2007, noteworthy for carrying on the tradition begun by Cruse with Gay Comix.
In August 2009, Howard Cruse self-published From Headrack to Claude, a collection of all his gay-themed strips accompanied by commentaries on his career and life, including the never-reprinted 1976 Barefootz story where the character Headrack came out, and some unpublished stories.
On March 17, 2010, an original one-off titled Lubejob penned by Cruse was published in Nib-Lit Comics journal.
Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse is a graphic novel with enough heart and soul for a hundred books. This semi-autobiographical work takes place in the South in the 1960s, and follows the adventures of Toland Polk, a young civil rights activist who faces inner as well as outer turmoil as he slowly realizes he’s gay. First published in 1995, Stuck Rubber Baby has won numerous awards, and will be reissued this summer in a 15th anniversary edition under the DC Vertigo imprint. --Wayne CourtoisDays of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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