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Stuck Rubber Baby

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Art and story combine powerfully in this lyrical tale of a young man caught in the maelstrom of the civil rights movement and the entrenched homophobia of small-town America. Toland Polk, the son of an uneducated white carpenter, has grown up in the Southern town of Clayfield. It is the 1960s, a time of passionate beliefs and violent emotions, and Clayfield's citizens are Art and story combine powerfully in this lyrical tale of a young man caught in the maelstrom of the civil rights movement and the entrenched homophobia of small-town America. Toland Polk, the son of an uneducated white carpenter, has grown up in the Southern town of Clayfield. It is the 1960s, a time of passionate beliefs and violent emotions, and Clayfield's citizens are divided in the fight over segregation. As Toland fights on the side of the civil rights activists, he slowly begins to realize that he also has a more personal battle - to accept that he is gay. With a subtle yet intricate plot, and distinctively evocative illustrations, "Stuck Rubber Baby" is an unflinching honest look at one man's world of fears, dreams, and prejudice.


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Art and story combine powerfully in this lyrical tale of a young man caught in the maelstrom of the civil rights movement and the entrenched homophobia of small-town America. Toland Polk, the son of an uneducated white carpenter, has grown up in the Southern town of Clayfield. It is the 1960s, a time of passionate beliefs and violent emotions, and Clayfield's citizens are Art and story combine powerfully in this lyrical tale of a young man caught in the maelstrom of the civil rights movement and the entrenched homophobia of small-town America. Toland Polk, the son of an uneducated white carpenter, has grown up in the Southern town of Clayfield. It is the 1960s, a time of passionate beliefs and violent emotions, and Clayfield's citizens are divided in the fight over segregation. As Toland fights on the side of the civil rights activists, he slowly begins to realize that he also has a more personal battle - to accept that he is gay. With a subtle yet intricate plot, and distinctively evocative illustrations, "Stuck Rubber Baby" is an unflinching honest look at one man's world of fears, dreams, and prejudice.

30 review for Stuck Rubber Baby

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    Howard Cruse's graphic novel about one man's experiences during the 1960's civil rights movement is brimming with details. BUT...that's not ALWAYS a good thing... Toland Polk tells of his involvement in the struggles for equality during those troubled times in American history. He also relates the l-o-n-g, s-l-o-w discovery of his true sexual identity. I don't know if EVERY single conversation he EVER held with EVERYBODY is depicted, but it sure seems that way. There are too many characters and t Howard Cruse's graphic novel about one man's experiences during the 1960's civil rights movement is brimming with details. BUT...that's not ALWAYS a good thing... Toland Polk tells of his involvement in the struggles for equality during those troubled times in American history. He also relates the l-o-n-g, s-l-o-w discovery of his true sexual identity. I don't know if EVERY single conversation he EVER held with EVERYBODY is depicted, but it sure seems that way. There are too many characters and too much information dragging down the story, making it almost a chore to read. The illustrations are also packed with detail. Each panel is weighed down with so much cross hatching and shading - Aaaaaa! - they end up looking too busy. I half expected a footnote telling me to find the twelve bunnies hidden in each picture. Cruse's people all tend to look somewhat alike, but perhaps that was done deliberately to remind us that black or white, we are all just part of the family of MAN. And judging from the ginormous chins every character sports, that MAN is Jay Leno.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I tend to be wary of memoirs about the White Middle Class American Male Experience (gay or otherwise), especially those set against the backdrop of a powerful political moment (in this case, the Civil Rights Movement). The magnitude of these events (and the people who made them happen) is diminished, to say the least, with the emphasis instead placed on how All This Has Changed Our Precious Boy. Now, while Stuck Rubber Baby isn't without its problems, I appreciate that Howard Cruse makes his whi I tend to be wary of memoirs about the White Middle Class American Male Experience (gay or otherwise), especially those set against the backdrop of a powerful political moment (in this case, the Civil Rights Movement). The magnitude of these events (and the people who made them happen) is diminished, to say the least, with the emphasis instead placed on how All This Has Changed Our Precious Boy. Now, while Stuck Rubber Baby isn't without its problems, I appreciate that Howard Cruse makes his white boy protagonist criticize his selfishness (in retrospect, at least---the narrator is his older self), and reflect honestly on his position during the Civil Rights Movement: that is, sympathetic to the politics of his activist friends, but weaker; too milquetoast to take radical role, instead standing in awe of those who do. I found this refreshingly honest---he could've written Toland in as the hero, but didn't. Furthermore, the other characters aren't there to tell his story, and they make up some of the best parts of the book. Like I said, not without its problems (that's another conversation, but let's just say that making one of your white characters the victim of a lynching is not exactly revisionist history---sure, gays and white activists were sometimes targeted---but it IS a poor choice given that lynching was a brutal reality for so many blacks, and so few whites.), but ultimately it's still a beautiful and affecting book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    MLE

    I wanted to like this one, but I found the art style to be too visually cluttered, and something about it was just off putting. The story line seemed to be trying too hard to fit too much in, and I quickly found myself lost. It seemed like a fascinating look at that time period, but it was just too hard for me to get into.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Raina

    A classic graphic novel ahead of its time. Originally published in 1995, in this GN, Cruse draws heavily on his early years in the south. He depicts the coming-of-age, journey, coming-out process of a fictional gay white guy in the era of segregation, civil rights marches, and illegal homosexuality. And he shows how intertwined the queer community and the black community became at the time. It's a fantastic example of how being a cultural Other can bring people together. As this guy gets more in A classic graphic novel ahead of its time. Originally published in 1995, in this GN, Cruse draws heavily on his early years in the south. He depicts the coming-of-age, journey, coming-out process of a fictional gay white guy in the era of segregation, civil rights marches, and illegal homosexuality. And he shows how intertwined the queer community and the black community became at the time. It's a fantastic example of how being a cultural Other can bring people together. As this guy gets more involved with the civil rights movement, we get an insider perspective of what that time was like on a day-to-day basis. Private clubs, being afraid to drive across town with a person of a different race, church politics... it's all here. Cruse's illustrations are dense and pull you into the page. He uses a wide variety of evocative page layouts, and the black&whiteness feels symbolic and meaningful. His crosshatching is ridiculous. Toland struggles with coming out, and questions the dichotomy of totally straight vs. totally gay in a way that totally fits the time. It makes me slightly uncomfortable, makes me think, helps me consider the issues and how personal they are. Heart-breaking, ground-breaking, and ahead of its time. Alison Bechdel writes the introduction, and addresses his influence on her. Cruse was a pioneer in queer comics, and this is a master work. He pushes boundaries and totally deserves to be rediscovered. Might need to own this one. Read with: No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White Incognegro

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    This is one that sat on my shelves for many years. I knew it was acclaimed, but Cruse's Wendel had never appealed to me and even now as I write a 5-star review for Stuck Rubber Baby, I can't say that his art in this book is particularly appealing to me, either. There's so much cross-hatching that even quiet panels often look too dark and unnecessarily busy (a panel showing two men in a shower made me wonder what sort of skin condition - or fur - was being shown), and everyone looks like a kind o This is one that sat on my shelves for many years. I knew it was acclaimed, but Cruse's Wendel had never appealed to me and even now as I write a 5-star review for Stuck Rubber Baby, I can't say that his art in this book is particularly appealing to me, either. There's so much cross-hatching that even quiet panels often look too dark and unnecessarily busy (a panel showing two men in a shower made me wonder what sort of skin condition - or fur - was being shown), and everyone looks like a kind of troll doll with the same similarly exaggerated features. Often I wondered what the real-life counterparts of Cruse's characters would look like. The options aren't pretty. The amazing thing here is the story, which seems so natural and organic that I assumed as I was reading that SRB was autobiography, until I got to the afterward that claims otherwise. (It's still hard for me to believe.) Cruse's characters surprise, and sometimes disappoint, with interactions that are fresher and more realistic than any other I can think of in the graphic novel medium. The depth of feeling is beautiful. Powerful and compelling; highly recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rochelle Hartman

    This is the best book I have read all year. Not best graphic novel--but the best book. Amazing story that takes place in a fictional southern town in the early 60s that melds civil rights with a young white man's personal awareness of his sexual identity. It's an unbelievably brilliant and moving story (and fictional, according to Cruse), painstakingly and beautifully illustrated. I enjoyed it so much that I will probably buy it and read it again.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    It couldn’t be a more appropriate time for this one.. Cruse takes the reader back to the 1960s, the era of unrest and activism regarding the Vietnam War and civil rights for Blacks. He skillfully weaves these issues into the main character’s narrative of coming of age and coming out as a gay man. Perhaps due the choice to cover all of these areas with genuine detail, the book runs quite long for a graphic novel. At times I feel it moves too slowly, and the power of the critical topics tends to g It couldn’t be a more appropriate time for this one.. Cruse takes the reader back to the 1960s, the era of unrest and activism regarding the Vietnam War and civil rights for Blacks. He skillfully weaves these issues into the main character’s narrative of coming of age and coming out as a gay man. Perhaps due the choice to cover all of these areas with genuine detail, the book runs quite long for a graphic novel. At times I feel it moves too slowly, and the power of the critical topics tends to get lost in that pacing. There is a real danger of readers losing interest. Strengths and weaknesses are about equal for me in this one. Thank you to NetGalley and First Second publishing for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    The story of a gay white man growing up in the South in the 1960s. He gets involved in the civil rights struggle and comes out to himself, and later others, as gay. It's interesting territory, but I hated the art. It looks outright ugly to me, the characters are nearly impossible to distinguish from each other, and the framing is so cramped that it's nearly impossible to read, there's no white space, and there's so much cross-hatching...I felt my eyes start to hurt trying to read this. I don't f The story of a gay white man growing up in the South in the 1960s. He gets involved in the civil rights struggle and comes out to himself, and later others, as gay. It's interesting territory, but I hated the art. It looks outright ugly to me, the characters are nearly impossible to distinguish from each other, and the framing is so cramped that it's nearly impossible to read, there's no white space, and there's so much cross-hatching...I felt my eyes start to hurt trying to read this. I don't feel like the art really added anything to this story--if anything, the difficulty of figuring out who was who made it harder. I started skimming about a third of the way through.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    Simply one of the best books I have read in a long time -- an example of how amazing graphic novels CAN be when they try. This is the story of Toland, a young white man coming of age in the deep South at the dawning of the civil rights movement -- and trying to come to terms with his homosexuality. All of the characters are vivid, complex and fully realized -- even the minor characters. I especially enjoyed Cruse's portrayal of Ginger -- Toland's girlfriend who is a folk singer and headstrong, s Simply one of the best books I have read in a long time -- an example of how amazing graphic novels CAN be when they try. This is the story of Toland, a young white man coming of age in the deep South at the dawning of the civil rights movement -- and trying to come to terms with his homosexuality. All of the characters are vivid, complex and fully realized -- even the minor characters. I especially enjoyed Cruse's portrayal of Ginger -- Toland's girlfriend who is a folk singer and headstrong, sometimes moody civil rights activist. She can be difficult and unlikeable sometimes -- but she feels so incredibly real, it's hard to believe she's just a character in a book. Cruse treats thorny issues like homophobia, racism, sexism, and the everyday challenges of communicating and connecting with other people with incredible compassion and thoughtfulness. His narrative uncovers a side of the history of the civil rights movement that many people don't know about or don't acknowledge -- the existence of queer folks of all racial backgrounds in the movement. I especially appreciated reading about this right now, with all the rhetoric about homophobia and racism sparked by the passage of Prop 8. Cruse also really immerses the reader in the time period with his unique illustration style -- I can't think of many other cartoonists who draw like him. If you haven't read this book yet -- go READ IT NOW. It is truly essential reading! But don't look for it at SPL, because we don't own it. You can get it through interlibrary loan, however.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ethan

    I loved this. I read the compilation of Cruse's Wendel comic strips, which was also wonderful, but this was simply amazing. At first I was a little worried that the characters seemed like stock, generic Civil Rights-era Southern figures, but as the story progresses Cruse fleshes them out and makes them unique. The story is nuanced and multi-layered, dealing with the protagonist's struggles with sexuality and the broader struggles around black civil rights, as well as the complicated relationship I loved this. I read the compilation of Cruse's Wendel comic strips, which was also wonderful, but this was simply amazing. At first I was a little worried that the characters seemed like stock, generic Civil Rights-era Southern figures, but as the story progresses Cruse fleshes them out and makes them unique. The story is nuanced and multi-layered, dealing with the protagonist's struggles with sexuality and the broader struggles around black civil rights, as well as the complicated relationships of the characters. The artwork is incredibly detailed (no wonder it took him four years to make this), and he has some creative techniques for using the art to communicate ideas or even moods that it would be harder to communicate in prose. I think Stuck Rubber Baby was kind of screwed over by bad timing. Among comics fans it's definitely a gay classic, but if it had been released today it probably could have picked up the same literary fiction crossover audience that Alison Bechdel did for Fun Home (which I also have on my "to-read" shelf).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I'm re-reading this since I'm teaching it. It's fun to teach a graphic novel since the students are so attuned to images. This book is very rich with a lot of subplots. It takes place during the Civil Rights Movement in the South and has a mix of characters, black and white, straight and gay. It explores the overlaps between race and sexuality.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Liz Yerby

    Freaking incredible and kind of devastating. Queer comics is such a vague term but this book shows how sexuality is only a small part of a persons experiences. Some people seem overwhelmed by the amount of content and heavy issues but it seems so much more real than one note comics memoirs I've read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Garrison Kelly

    Closeted gay man Toland Polk is caught in the crossfire of the civil rights era in America’s bible belt. Minorities are being killed, buildings are being bombed, the police use excessive force, and the politicians are content to just let it all happen. Being himself is something Toland struggles with throughout this graphic novel, considering the violent consequences of his sexual preference. When he starts making friends with the black and gay communities, he eventually has to let his guard dow Closeted gay man Toland Polk is caught in the crossfire of the civil rights era in America’s bible belt. Minorities are being killed, buildings are being bombed, the police use excessive force, and the politicians are content to just let it all happen. Being himself is something Toland struggles with throughout this graphic novel, considering the violent consequences of his sexual preference. When he starts making friends with the black and gay communities, he eventually has to let his guard down and give into his individuality. That includes trying to have a painless breakup with his folk singer girlfriend Ginger. What’s important to me about this graphic novel is how much it echoes today’s American society despite this piece of fiction taking place in the 1960’s. Racism and homophobia never went away. In fact, with Donald Trump as president and his bigoted rhetoric emboldening his supporters into doing heinous things to minorities, the hatefulness is alive and well. It always has been. Stuck Rubber Baby is a call for the world to come together and love each other despite the violent opposition. Hate begets more hate, but love conquers everything. It’s the acts of love Toland experiences from the true friends he has that eventually bring him out of the closet. Another thing the reader will notice is the pacing of this book. Yes, graphic novels and comic books are usually easy to blow through in about five minutes or less, but that’s not the case with Stuck Rubber Baby. In fact, the pacing encourages the reader to slow down and really think about what’s being said. There’s quite a bit of important content to mull over whether it’s the acts of violence against minorities or the love and fellowship between those who need it the most. When someone dies in this book, you have no choice but to give a damn about it. Speaking of people to give a damn about, this graphic novel is filled to the brim with characters the reader can root for. Of course, Toland Polk is the odds on favorite as we cheer for him to find the love and acceptance he deserves in the midst of all of this destruction. Ginger is a songstress that can bring out the butterflies in everyone’s tummies and the tears in their eyes. Sammy is as wild and free-spirited as they come, which is what makes seeing him angry and depressed a vicarious experience times ten. Harland Pepper is an endless well of wisdom when he encourages his fellow protesters to use peaceful tactics rather than incite more violence. There are plenty more characters that will tear your heartstrings out, even more so when some of them get beaten and murdered. The murders are frequent, but it’s not a case of darkness-induced apathy. Not in the least. Stuck Rubber Baby is a wakeup call to the whole world when it comes to peace, love, and unity. Without those three things, history will repeat itself over and over again like it normally does. This graphic novel is sure to drag its readers kicking and screaming over to the left wing. If you’re already there, then you have even more power to change the world for the better. An extra credit grade goes to this beautifully written story with more powerful moments than I care to count.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Melanee Barash

    Graphic Novels are not a genre that I'm drawn to, but this book was recommended and I wanted to see why. The story was a powerful exploration/representation of racism and homophobia. The artwork created a visual aspect that heightened the impact of the story. I can't honestly say that I liked this book, but I am very glad I read it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nynke

    2,5 stars

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    Over Thanksgiving, my family asked me what I was reading. At the time, I was reading a smattering of things, but I told them I was most excited about a graphic novel entitled Stuck Rubber Baby. Upon hearing "graphic novel" they immediately responded with, "Oh, you're just reading comic books? No serious books right now?" I hate this stigma, especially since Stuck Rubber Baby is so poignant and powerful, and its illustrations only work to enhance the impact of an already moving story about race a Over Thanksgiving, my family asked me what I was reading. At the time, I was reading a smattering of things, but I told them I was most excited about a graphic novel entitled Stuck Rubber Baby. Upon hearing "graphic novel" they immediately responded with, "Oh, you're just reading comic books? No serious books right now?" I hate this stigma, especially since Stuck Rubber Baby is so poignant and powerful, and its illustrations only work to enhance the impact of an already moving story about race and sex. Toland Polk is a product of the segregated south, the son of poor white folk who still somehow find all of their non-white friends and neighbors to be beneath them. However, through Riley, Mavis, Ginger, Les, and Sammy, among other friends, Toland is exposed to a rich nightlife in which not only different races commingle, but also different sexual orientations. There are gay men, lesbians, drag queens, and any and all sexualities you can imagine, all lovingly illustrated by Howard Cruse. Though don't be fooled: this novel is more than just a tour of racial and sexual difference. Toland Polk, against the tensions of his southern setting, discovers that he is gay. Out of fear of the repercussions of being gay in the midcentury south, Toland tries desperately to love folk singer Ginger Raines. They date, they get political, they make love, and then BAM! They get pregnant. Toland and Ginger must decide how the child of a scared little gay man and a bohemian guitarist best fits into their unrelenting southern reality. Meanwhile, the south is getting uglier all the time, with consequences for Toland's friends that brought me close to tears. In all, this was a stunning story, with such richly crosshatched illustrations that Alison Bechdel can't "see how one human being could possibly lay down this much ink in that span of time [four years], even if they never eat or sleep." The layouts are also innovative and revealing; Cruse fragments ugly scenes and traumatic moments, only offering us glimpses to mirror Toland's understanding of them. Similarly, Sammy's wild confrontation of his bigoted father is superimposed over the father's face, with only the slightest alterations to his facial expressions to hint at what he is feeling. These formatting choices are SO much more interesting and enlightening than they would be in a text format, so bully to all you haters who think that graphic novels cannot be literary. Okay, I'll stop gushing about Howard Cruse now. I need to get ready for work.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    a terrific and moving account of a young gay man growing up in the south during the civil rights movement. it felt timely to be reading this right now--tony kushner makes the point powerfully in the intro, so i'm going to quote a long passage: It articulates a crying need for solidarity, it performs the crucial function of remembering, for the queer community, how essential to the birth of our politics of liberation the civil rights movement was. The point, it seems to me, is not that one movemen a terrific and moving account of a young gay man growing up in the south during the civil rights movement. it felt timely to be reading this right now--tony kushner makes the point powerfully in the intro, so i'm going to quote a long passage: It articulates a crying need for solidarity, it performs the crucial function of remembering, for the queer community, how essential to the birth of our politics of liberation the civil rights movement was. The point, it seems to me, is not that one movement co-opts the energy or the nobility or the history of another; not that one people, rising to an angry knowledge of how it has been abused, competes for status of "most abused" with any other; but rather that we need to know the genealogies of our movements, and with that knowledge come to understand the interdependence of all liberation struggles. i'd really be fascinated to know how much of this story is autobiographical. i'm sure i'll read this again, in part to be able to devote less attention to plot and more attention to cruse's incredibly detailed artwork. at some point in the middle of reading this i read his acknowledgements at the end, and he described all the research he did on the historically accurate depiction of everything in the book--from cars and architecture to guns, movie cameras, record labels, and "other collectibles of a bygone era"--and then i really realized how much more impressive the drawings are. i've read a little bit about how cruse went deeply into debt to write this book, which took 4 years--now i feel guilty for buying the book used. he deserves my dollars! anyway, a great read, highly recommended.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Kibler

    I've always liked Howard Cruse's work, ever since I first encountered it when I came out. His struggles to express his own truth touches on such universal truths that I can't help feeling I know him intimately, although I mostly know him through his comics. Someday I hope to meet him in person. "Stuck Rubber Baby" (SRB) is a tour de force, mixing tales of the human rights struggles of the sixties with the Jazz music scene of the south, this is an amazing work of fiction. I almost would give it fi I've always liked Howard Cruse's work, ever since I first encountered it when I came out. His struggles to express his own truth touches on such universal truths that I can't help feeling I know him intimately, although I mostly know him through his comics. Someday I hope to meet him in person. "Stuck Rubber Baby" (SRB) is a tour de force, mixing tales of the human rights struggles of the sixties with the Jazz music scene of the south, this is an amazing work of fiction. I almost would give it five stars, if I didn't already know that Cruse's work in "Gay Comix" goes even further with defining struggles with human rights. Unfortunately those comicbooks are not as available now, although I believe his best work may be now available in a new collection. I would mention the names of the stories that I have been impressed with...ah, "Billy" and "Dirty Old Lovers" pop to mind, but please don't take my memory for being perfect. I'll have to come back and correct these when I can do the research. I've also liked much of Cruse's work for underground comics, like his "Barefootz" comics which are also collected. SRB stands out though because of its frank and serious nature. Cruse doesn't pull away from any of the emotional force of his story. He does inject it with humor and lightness, but in ways I haven't seen him do before, so SRB is unique in this way. I think it is a worthy read and belongs in everyone's bookshelf.

  19. 4 out of 5

    A

    Though Alison Bechdel's stunning Fun Home is the clear kissing cousin to this book (both are tragic gay coming-of-age comics rooted in their sense of history), I actually kept thinking about this book in relation to Asterios Polyp. Both Baby and Polyp are comics about self-involved, unlikable characters wandering aimlessly through life while recalling their troubled pasts. But where Asterios Polyp was flashy, brainy, mannered, and detached (all good things, mind you), Stuck Rubber Baby is all he Though Alison Bechdel's stunning Fun Home is the clear kissing cousin to this book (both are tragic gay coming-of-age comics rooted in their sense of history), I actually kept thinking about this book in relation to Asterios Polyp. Both Baby and Polyp are comics about self-involved, unlikable characters wandering aimlessly through life while recalling their troubled pasts. But where Asterios Polyp was flashy, brainy, mannered, and detached (all good things, mind you), Stuck Rubber Baby is all heart -- thrumming, hormonal, animal, indignant heart. It's not particularly well drawn or artful (weirdly, all the male and female characters look like humptastic Tom of Finland drawings), but the story is just heartbreaking, particularly the devastating ending scenes. More than most anything I've read or seen before, this book really brought into relief just how far we have come (and have yet to go) regarding race and sexuality in America.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vikas

    This must be the second Graphic novel I read which was actually a story rather than collection of issues of superheroes or other story line. It is a complete story in itself. This is the story of a Gay man growing up in a fictional southern town and trying to hide the fact that he is gay. This the story detailing many scenes as he tells his own story how he grew up to accept who he was. I did like the graphic novel and hopefully you would like it too. I have always loved comics, and I hope that I This must be the second Graphic novel I read which was actually a story rather than collection of issues of superheroes or other story line. It is a complete story in itself. This is the story of a Gay man growing up in a fictional southern town and trying to hide the fact that he is gay. This the story detailing many scenes as he tells his own story how he grew up to accept who he was. I did like the graphic novel and hopefully you would like it too. I have always loved comics, and I hope that I will always love them. Even though I grew up reading local Indian comics like Raj Comics or Diamond Comics or even Manoj Comics, now's the time to catch up on the international and classic comics and Graphic novels. I am on my quest to read as many comics as I can. I Love comics to bit, may comics never leave my side. I loved reading this and love reading more, you should also read what you love and then just Keep on Reading.

  21. 5 out of 5

    sweet pea

    i kept hearing about this book as one of the inspirations for Alison Bechdel to write Fun Home, so i had to get me a copy. not easy. basically out of print. the illustrations don't instantly appeal to me. although you become used to them as time progresses. the story reminds me of Memoir of a Race Traitor by Mab Segrest, despite the difference in time, place, and actual events. the plot weaves between the main character's long process of coming out, his (and his friends') involvement in the Civi i kept hearing about this book as one of the inspirations for Alison Bechdel to write Fun Home, so i had to get me a copy. not easy. basically out of print. the illustrations don't instantly appeal to me. although you become used to them as time progresses. the story reminds me of Memoir of a Race Traitor by Mab Segrest, despite the difference in time, place, and actual events. the plot weaves between the main character's long process of coming out, his (and his friends') involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, and his relationship with his "girlfriend". for me, the most interesting characters are the four older black womyn: the pianist/organist, lesbian owners of a nightclub, and a sinful singer turned sanctified. it's certainly not a perfect work. but it's a groundbreaking queer graphic novel that deserves to be more widely read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I had read great things about Stuck Rubber Baby and obviously I wasn't disappointed. The story and characters are nuanced and I enjoyed the author's complex weaving of social injustices and inequities. White privilege and heteronormativity are closely examined as the main character comes to terms with his sexual identity and his complacently in the violences committed against Blacks in the south. Alison Bechdel's intriguing introduction explains the significance of the individual in the role of I had read great things about Stuck Rubber Baby and obviously I wasn't disappointed. The story and characters are nuanced and I enjoyed the author's complex weaving of social injustices and inequities. White privilege and heteronormativity are closely examined as the main character comes to terms with his sexual identity and his complacently in the violences committed against Blacks in the south. Alison Bechdel's intriguing introduction explains the significance of the individual in the role of history, "Stuck Rubber Baby is a story, but it's also a history - or perhaps more accurately a story about how history happens, one person at a time." I wasn't a huge fan of the style of illustrations, which made it difficult to relate to the characters. Still, it's easy to appreciate Cruse's talent.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dave Riley

    As storytelling goes with ink and paper Stuck Rubber Baby has to be one of the best graphic novels put together . The synthesis of a 'memoir' with the issues of homosexuallity and Jim Crowe racism fosters a challenging intimate synchronicity that reminds us how far we have come by dint of those who have strived to make that journey at close quarters. At its core, Stuck Rubber baby is about struggle -- not only against the institutions and mores that oppress us, but also against ourselves every ti As storytelling goes with ink and paper Stuck Rubber Baby has to be one of the best graphic novels put together . The synthesis of a 'memoir' with the issues of homosexuallity and Jim Crowe racism fosters a challenging intimate synchronicity that reminds us how far we have come by dint of those who have strived to make that journey at close quarters. At its core, Stuck Rubber baby is about struggle -- not only against the institutions and mores that oppress us, but also against ourselves every time we choose to accept rather than change. It reminds us that winning our rights to live as we choose has many personal front lines, and more often than not there really is one struggle and one fight if we only but recognise it. There are millions of these stories played out by gender, race, sexual preference, etc and what Cruse does here is celebrate one of them.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Steven Brown

    Friends and I differ at times on the value of the graphic novel. I'm an unlikely defender, having completely ignored comic books as a young adult, but I find myself drawn to some of them, primarily those dealing with serious historical topics. Recently I heard a radio interview with "Amir", one of the Iranian disidents who create the website and graphic novel, "Zahra's Paradise." He made the point that the graphic novel lets the artist/author approximate what could be done as a film, without the Friends and I differ at times on the value of the graphic novel. I'm an unlikely defender, having completely ignored comic books as a young adult, but I find myself drawn to some of them, primarily those dealing with serious historical topics. Recently I heard a radio interview with "Amir", one of the Iranian disidents who create the website and graphic novel, "Zahra's Paradise." He made the point that the graphic novel lets the artist/author approximate what could be done as a film, without the expense, equipment and processing needed to create a film. So it is with Cruse's "Stuck Rubber Baby." Cruse skillfully uses his drawings to amplify and move along his story of both racial and sexual civil rights in the early 1960s.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book has everything! It takes place mostly in the 60s during the Civil Rights movement, and the main character/narrator is also realizing he's gay, so it's got all the glorious ambiguity and unanswerable doubts of those two themes, race and sexuality. It's basically a meditation on what it means to embrace humanity in all of its forms. The end's a little abrupt and unclear, and the drawings need more breathing room, but it's absolutely engaging and rewarding. For someone new to the form, I This book has everything! It takes place mostly in the 60s during the Civil Rights movement, and the main character/narrator is also realizing he's gay, so it's got all the glorious ambiguity and unanswerable doubts of those two themes, race and sexuality. It's basically a meditation on what it means to embrace humanity in all of its forms. The end's a little abrupt and unclear, and the drawings need more breathing room, but it's absolutely engaging and rewarding. For someone new to the form, I wouldn't want them to start with it because it doesn't show the range of what drawings can add to a book. But I would definitely recommend it to anyone who already likes graphic novels.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Trey

    Look, I can't do justice to this book in a brief write-up; all I can do is recommend that you read it. It's a moving story, the art is detailed and historically accurate, and it's obvious how much work Howard Cruse put into it. A lot of times I don't take long enough to read through graphic novels, but I made sure to read this over several days; I didn't want to be done with it, and I wanted to take time to really look at the art and reflect on the words. Read Alison Bechdel's introduction/love Look, I can't do justice to this book in a brief write-up; all I can do is recommend that you read it. It's a moving story, the art is detailed and historically accurate, and it's obvious how much work Howard Cruse put into it. A lot of times I don't take long enough to read through graphic novels, but I made sure to read this over several days; I didn't want to be done with it, and I wanted to take time to really look at the art and reflect on the words. Read Alison Bechdel's introduction/love letter to Stuck Rubber Baby; it will tell you all you need to know.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    A deeply emotional telling of a man discovering his true self over a backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement in 1960s Alabama. Starts off slow, but eventually builds a diverse and fascinating cast of characters while remaining intensely personal to the main character. For its length, Stuck Rubber Baby is a dense evaluation of one man's struggle to find his place in a world that doesn't seem to want him, highlighted by a thoroughly realized artistic style. The ending is particularly moving.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I might be biased, but I actually think this story would have benefited from a book format instead of a graphic format. The characters were too convoluted and there was too much going on that made the story seem endless. It could have been neatened and tightened up in a book format and had the same affect of relaying the time period (Civil Rights Movement of the 60's) with the tumultuous discovery of one's sexual identity.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    The art style was not to my taste, at times it was hard to tell the difference between a few male characters. I am happy that there exists a book on the topic matter. The pacing was a little slow, but in a way it gave it an annoying sense of realism in that it felt like a new aquaintance telling you their 'life story'.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gordon McAlpin

    Stuck Rubber Baby is simply one of the finest graphic novels there is. Cruse's linework make me so incredibly jealous, and he is a master storyteller. If there is a graphic novels canon, Stuck Rubber Baby deserves to be in it.

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