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February 14, 2006

Forty Years Ago Today

Give or take ten months. The following is excerpted from a letter to my brother dated December 19, 1966. I was a junior at Birmingham-Southern College at the time.
"I spent most of my time during the week of finals completing the first draft of The Sixth Story, my first full-length non-musical play. The cast is very small and it requires almost no set.

"It is a very complex allegory that revolves around the difference in various people's ability to face reality, and the fact that there is no rationale to the selection of those who have the capability."

"The play also pictures truth as lying totally in concreteness. The metaphor is metamorphosis. Manchester Wintergray is transformed to "concrete" man through moral pain and physical death."

Above: "Flash," played by Rand Christy (top), helps Manchester Wintergray (portrayed by Bruce Sherrill) metamorphose.

[The ghost of Manchester Wintergray injects from his grave: Such concerns in a 22-year-old boy! And this was a year before the kid took his first LSD, for God's sake!]

Young Cruse continues tellingly:

"I had been nervous earlier about [Drama Department Chair Arnold Powell's] reaction because there is an undercurrent of homosexuality running through the whole thing. But as the play came out, the queer stuff is fairly stylized and functions mostly as an ever-present force under the surface; consequently, its effect tends to be subconscious rather than conscious."

Dream on, Howard! Probable response of audience-members when the play was staged the following spring: Somebody drag that poor playright out of the closet QUICK!!

Meanwhile, in the present: At Popimage.com the second page of "My Hypnotist" is unveiled.

February 20, 2006

Return of the Squirrels

For two years during the dawn of the 1970s I drew a daily cartoon panel about two squirrels for the Birmingham Post-Herald. The feature was named Tops & Button and so were the squirrels.

My drawing skills had a way to go back then and so did my coy-title-detector. These guys lived in a hollow tree, y'see, one above the other. An arborial duplex of sorts. The squirrel at the top of the tree was the one named Tops. The squirrel at the bottom of the tree was named — what, Bottom? No, that would be too obvious. How about Button?

The thing is, there were plenty of duds during the run of that series, but I have no apologies. It was a learning time for me and I got better as I went along. And the thing I liked best about the feature was the way it played with words. Their sounds. Their vibes. Their small, intersyllabic surprises.

People who visited my web site during its earliest incarnations (1998 or so, I think) will remember that I resurrected some Tops & Button panels for whatever amusement they might provide, and examples from the series have occasionally surfaced in published interviews as examples, fortunate or otherwise, of my earliest efforts to break into cartooning. But for the most part the series has lingered only in the fading memories of Birminghamians unaware that a budding underground cartoonist was hiding behind some funny animals who had appeared out of nowhere in the columns of their morning paper.

A couple of years ago I experimented with re-drawing some of the T&B episodes that continue to amuse me these three decades later. I renamed the title characters Squirly & Earl to reduce the coyness factor, and it's been fun to re-do the pictures because, well, I think I draw better now.

The new versions exist, so why not share them? So brace yourself for the occasional Squirly & Earl episode in these blog entries of mine.

The humor is soft — definitely not guffaw material. But in this hectic, overheated world we live in today, it pays to slow down occasionally and smell the yard rodents.

February 22, 2006

Moving On From Ker-chunk

Me "Ker-chunking" away in the U.K. in 1990
I think I presented my first slideshow around 1983. That was back in my Ker-chunk slideshow days.

I call them my "Ker-chunk Days" because back then (and for twenty years thereafter until my eyes were opened by Arlen Schumer of Dynamic Duo Studio in 2003) I was at the mercy of the moods and mechanical crudities of my Kodak Carousel Slide Projector.

I shouldn't be unfair. Those little projection devices from the pre-digital era of film transparencies in cardboard casings served me well during many an evening of book-promotion in assorted cities and venues, from Los Angeles to London. With experimentation and practice I put together a nice little "dog-and-pony-show" (to use a term picked up from my early days as a paste-up artist in Birmingham's advertising agency world) that always got a warm response.

Then I attended an illustrated lecture by Arlen promoting his book about comics in the 'sixties in New York that showed me how a slideshow should be done.

And I knew it was time for me to move on beyond Kodak.

I would tell you more right now but I'm racing out the door to teach my QuarkXPress class in Pittsfield. Tomorrow, maybe I'll be able to explaim why Arlen and his presentation changed my way of doing things.This topic is on my mind right now because I'll be giving an illustrated lecture tomorrow morning to students in a Graphic Novels as Literature class (how times have changed) at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

And I'll be doing it the non-Ker-chunk way.

February 23, 2006

Moving On From Ker-Chunk - Part 2

Me talking about Stuck Rubber Baby
to graphic novel students earlier today at MCLA
So I presented a slideshow today to students in Dr. Annie Raskin's Graphic Novel class at MCLA. I enjoyed meeting Dr. Raskin in person at last and her students couldn't have been more courteous and attentive.

The slide sequences flowed smoothly, and the only thing that went "Ker-Chunk" were our first fumbling efforts to coax my Apple PowerBook and the classroom's PC-acclimated audio-visual set-up to make friends with each other.

We thought we had taken every possible precaution to avoid technical glitches. Carl Villanovia of MCLA's Media Center had invited me to the campus a week earlier so we could assure ourselves in advance that the projector would play well with my Mac. It had taken a little fiddling with connectors and clickers, not to mention the desktop PC sitting nearby that is customarily charged with telling the projector what to do with its light beams. But from all appearances, by the time I had left for home Carl and a few other individuals who chipped in with advice and suggestions had demonstrated beyond doubt that the set-up could proceed smoothly. All I would have to do when I returned to address the class would be to plug in a plug and turn things on.

Nevertheless, our best-laid plans did today what best-laid plans are famous for doing. It was balking time in machine-land. Images on my laptop screen just sat there looking back at me instead of slithering along through cables and lenses onto the big screen on the wall behind me.

A call went out to Carl to please return and reprise his magic from the week before. A few minutes later all was well, with my presentation's beginning being only slightly delayed.

Dr. Raskin's students remained totally patient throughout and never once resorted to banging silverware again tin plates to express displeasure. I appreciated that. All went well once the curtain rose, the the only regrettable consequence of my late start was that no time was left at show's end for me to field questions and exchange views with the students. I regretted that.

Dr. Raskin says there may be an opportunity, however, for me to return to the class another day so that some real discussion can take place in response to my words and images — and, of course, the book itself.

But I promised in my last blog entry to share what I learned from Arlen Schumer several years ago about how to leave my beloved but klunky Kodak slide projector in the dust and take my slideshow into a new and more satisfying realm.

I will keep my promise — but tomorrow, not today. Blog entries shouldn't go on and on and on any more than slideshows should.

February 24, 2006

Moving On From Ker-Chunk - Part 3

It's unlikely that I would have been able to put together any kind of slideshow at all — ker-chunks or no ker-chunks — without the help of the late David Hutchison, who for many years was the Science and SFX (that's special effects for that fan-jargon-impaired among you) Editor of Starlog magazine. Dave and I became friends during my eight-month tenure as Starlog's Art Director late in the 1970s, and we remained close until he was felled in 2000 by pancreatic cancer.
David Hutchison
in Central Park
Dave was my mentor in all things technical during those years. When I bit the bullet in 1997 by purchasing my first Mac and then set about steering my cartooning career from its "old media" roots into the digital age, "Hutch" guided and reassured me with each baby step I took. He leapt into action as a cheerful trouble-shooter whenever my computer balked or froze, sometimes at a moment's notice even though he lived an hour's subway ride from Eddie's and my apartment in Jackson Heights.

But long before helping me get a grip on digital graphics, Hutch had been my chief slideshow enabler.

Hutch's availability as a photographer made my first slideshows possible. No way could I have borne the cost of putting together the ambitious series of unendingly-evolving presentations I offered to audiences between 1983 and 2003 had I been forced to pay commercial rates for the photography involved. And God knows I didn't have the equipment or skills to shoot the damn slides myself!

In the beginning Hutch insisted on shooting my slides for free. Eventually, as the number of images I put together for his camera expanded into the hundreds, he finally yielded to my guilt-induced insistence that he accept small payments of cash or pages of my original artwork in return for his camerawork. With his encouragement I continued to periodically revamp my show with dozens of photocopied panels from my comics that I pasted onto construction paper with lung-rotting spray adhesive. Whenever I had stockpiled enough slide adaptations of my stories to merit a new photo session, Hutch was ready to go.

The reality of how fortunate I had been to have Hutch's help hit me fully after his death, when I was forced to engage a professional photography service to provide the half-dozen or so new transparencies it took bring my slideshow up to date for an appearance at the Alternative Press Expo. Those few slides set me back a small fortune by comparison to the modest tokens of appreciation Hutch had been willing to accept from me! Minus my friend's assistance, my slideshow was forced lay fallow for a while: the lack of anything but the most fleeting references to projects that I had concocted subsequent to Stuck Rubber Baby's completion made it increasingly, embarrassingly out of date.

Then Arlen Schumer's illustrated lecture at the New School showed me how to liberate myself from transparencies, slide carousels, and noisy machinery along with the creative limitations they had been imposing on me without my realizing it.

February 25, 2006

Moving On From Ker-Chunk - Conclusion

The first thing that grabbed my attention when I saw Arlen Schumer's slideshow were the graceful cross-fades. Or maybe it was the rap number he started with.

Yeah, the rap number was an even earlier surprise, come to think of it, but that was just Arlen wowing the crowd with a dramatic device I was unlikely to emulate, given my personality. The cross-fades, though, were something else.

I knew going in that Arlen was going to use PowerPoint, and everyone knows that PowerPoint is awash in transition options — and there's not a slide projector-ish ker-chunk to be heard in any of them. In glorious silence you can wipe this way and that as you glide from image to image, up, down, left or right, or diagonally from an unexpected corner. One frame can burst from the middle of frame before it bounded by a circle, square, or diamond, and for all I know the most recent upgrades will let you amaze your audience with galloping pinwheels of sequential pie charts. Mere dissolves are the tamest arrows in the application's quiver.

But the way Arlen used them at first seemed magical. A comic book character's face would occupy the screen, and then, out of nowhere, a word balloon would emerge from the ether.

The picture didn't change, or seemed not to, but a new element was added to the scene at the exact moment when Arlen was ready for it. More than could ever be true with old fashioned slides that announce every change with a brief blackout and a great clanking of apertures, Arlen had become the master of his audience's attention.

In my slideshow adaptation of a scene from Stuck Rubber Baby, Rev. Pepper speaks only when I'm ready for him to speak!
In reality, of course, Arlen's picture did change. He was cross-fading between two entirely separate pictures that were identical but for that word balloon. But because of the digital realm's capacity for perfect register, aspects of two images that are identical when they are created in an imaging application like Photoshop can be placed in precisely the same position on a screen, so that the parts of the picture that don't change from one frame to the next seem to be staying exactly where they are while something new joins the composition. And if you use Quicktime's cross-fade transition, the new element doesn't just pop into view; it emerges gracefully from the mists.

I imediately saw this as a great step forward for fluid storytelling in slideshows. But despite the fuss I'm making about it here, that was not what made the biggest difference for me personally.The old-style slides were costly to photograph and process, so (without Dave Hutchison's skills and generosity to fall back on) I had to be so economical, even stingy, in introducing new ones that my presentation's ability to evolve and grow was hobbled.

But I can make new PowerPoint images for free, sitting at home in front of my Mac, and this has made it possible for me to expand beyond the single, self-promotional divertissement I had started with when I first performed my Kodak slideshow twenty-three years ago.

In the last two years I have presented a digital adaption of my original slideshow to students at the Ringling Schjool of Art & Design and gave an illustrated lecture about the evolution of my drawing style at a conference at the University of Florida. At Brown University in Providence I showed students in Paul Buhle's class on "The Sixties" how Stuck Rubber Baby grew out of my memories of the Civil Rights strife in Birmingham when I was young; at the School for International Studies in Brattleboro my slideshow called "Racism & Brain Debris" related SRB to a broader examination of the way prejudices get imbedded in our minds. And in mid-March I'm going to give my new slideshow adaptation of The Swimmer With a Rope In His Teeth a trial run at the Topia Arts Center in nearby Adams.

It takes work to create all of these varied programs, but not money. For a cartoonist who still has to hustle to get by, that's important. And it's PowerPoint that has made it possible for me to venture into this new territory, and I'm having a ball.

March 1, 2006

A Portrait of Two Cats

My home life these days is all about dogs — most specifically Lulu the dalmation, goddess of hair-distribution in Eddie's and my humble abode.

But when I lived in Birmingham it was two cats named Flower and Thumper who helped me survive the breakup with my first love Don and achieve reasonable serenity on the Magic City's southside.

To be the cartoonist I wanted to be, I eventually had to abandon Alabama to settle in New York City, where there were publishers aplenty if not decent barbeque establishments. It broke my heart to leave my cats in the care of others, but it had to be done.

I recently happened upon this flier, composed in December of 1976, and memories came flooding back.

CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRE that I find a new home for my two female cats, Thumper and Flower. Sisters from the same litter, they are accustomed to an indoor existence complete with lots of affection, which they return lavishly once they have determined its sincerity.

Though they would consider it indelicate to mention themselves, they have both been SPAYED! Despite this they remain graced with a larger share of femininity and sensuality than many human beings who have never been under a surgical knife.

Thumper is a slender, sensitive calico, predominantly gray with washes of orange and white. Flower is a robust (might we say chubby?) black-and-white of gregarious temperament, with an Oliver Hardy black "moustache" on her white muzzle.

They both enjoy stalking any cockroaches that invade their domain, evidently inducing fatal heart attacks in the bugs through a process of terrorization that I have never witnessed first-hand.

They are very loyal to their litter box as long as the Hartz brand is prominantly displayed. They are ambivalent about Litter Green and make no promises.

They are accustomed to roaming freely about their home at velocities that vary accordiung to their moods and the time of day. They consider the sofa to be their furniture, too, very good for sleeping. Tops of refrigerators, obscure bookcases, closet shelves and window ledges are also employed regularly for siestas.

They are no strangers to the conjugal bed, though it is recommended that they not remain there while anyone is conjugating.

They do not like to be lifted. Sometimes Flower likes laps. Thumper, on the other hand, rides around on shoulders sometimes. Though Thumper is the more timid of the two, they are both excellent conversationalists when the impulse strikes (which is practically never) and both are unusually knowledgable about cartooning and comic books.

I am aware that many people are open only to the idea of raising cats from kittenhood. Yes, friskiness is fun. There is something to be said, though, for the more mature companionship of cats with already formed personalities and a certain graceful reserve.

If you think you might like to adopt Thumper and Flower, please contact me.

[EPILOGUE: A friend did take my kitties to live in her home in a forested suburban development on Birmingham's outskirts. Thumper adjusted well, but Flower was soon seized with wanderlust and escaped into the trees, never to be seen again. My friend was distressed, but it was not her fault.

By the time of Flower's disappearance I was far away in New York, soon to be art directing Starlog magazine.]

March 22, 2006

Chastized by a Friend

My friends and I wrote to each other with passion when we were on the threshold of twenty.

I happened today upon the following chastizing letter a friend apparently wrote to me more than forty years ago. It is unsigned and undated, but the other letters it was tucked in with place it in 1963. I'm pretty sure I know who must have written it.

It's harsh but on target, prompted probably by one of my many depressed letters I wrote in my adolescence, despair-drenched missives in which I flirted compulsively with the romance of suicide. I quote his response to me in its entirety, unedited.

oh howard, will you stop this shit? the last time I wrote a thing like yours i was ready to die. je(a)sus god, before you go lose your soul, your poor ofay soul, in prussian square come talk to me. look man, I laid a few on your head, but i didn't know what was comin off. you know the word, man, but you jest so hung up. dont be so dumb. please play it cool for me, God, and the Fat Lady. for me. for mine and everybody's goddman [sic] petty banal life. for the lovers you never had. for yourself you hate so bad.

i don't give a shit about the dribble b------- is going to write you or the good word from b--, i don't care about being bound in your hang ups. man, i am bitter about you. when are you going to give up this abstract image of yourself - your body mind dichotomy - and live with your body? don't go and blow your cool. HEAR ?

The writer of the foregoing himself died by his own hand a few years later. That doesn't invalidate his rebuke to me; it's a wonder he lasted as long as he did, that his hands didn't fall off his arms before he graduated from high school from all the razor slices he had applied to his wrists. His own daily pain was ten times as bad as mine has ever been. (Bipolar disorder is what they would call it today, I believe.) For a time he and I were like two people sinking side-by-side in quicksand, each trying to prevent the other from sinking. Ah, those wonderful high school years!

I was thinking about this friend when I wrote the following song lyric in 1976:

He died every day of his life
that he could.
He said, when his time came
to leave this world,
he was gonna make it good.
He said, I'm gonna give my blood
So the world will know I died.
And he planned it out
how the world would cry
that he had passed to the Other Side.

They'd say:
Good-bye, Jimmy Joe.
It's a bummer you've gone to stay.
We'd like you back
For the songs you'd sing
And the melodies you'd play.
You made us cry
But the tears were sweet
And they made us feel alive.
Now your bad trip is over,
Your bones are dry,
And I guess we'll all survive.

He wrote out a beautiful note
from his heart.
He wrote how the misery
and pain of life,
they could tear a boy apart.
How the only friend he had
Was a razor blade of steel.
And he laughed a bit,
'cause he knew damn well
how the folks back home would feel.

They'd say:
Good-bye, Jimmy Joe.
It's a bummer you've gone to stay.
We'd like you back
For the songs you'd sing
And the melodies you'd play.
You made us cry
But the tears were sweet
And they made us feel alive.
Now your bad trip is over,
Your bones are dry,
And I guess we'll all survive.

My friend Mike Lantrip (who in a jollier sprit composed the bouncy music for "Purchaser's Clearing House") wrote a simple, haunting tune for "Jimmy Joe." The Indian Springs Glee Club even sang it in concert one year.

April 12, 2006

Whippersnapper Satire

My efforts to pull together a new, low-key humor-and-commentary publication here in North Adams (more on The Perp another time) takes me back to 1968, when Sixties "Flower Power" began extending its mischievous tendrils onto the largely sedate campus of my college alma mater down in Alabama, Birmingham-Southern College.

Under the editorship of an enterprising editor named Eugene Breckenridge, our student newspaper, the Hilltop News, had begun breaking BSC tradition by practicing more serious journalism than the fraternity/sorority-oriented student body was accustomed to. But for my quasi-bohemian crowd something a little more edgy was called for to make campus discourse even less predictable.

Thus was born Granny Takes a Trip, a cheapo, mildly "underground" memeographed rag that was the brainchild of my friend Julie Brumlik, who has since distinguished herself in fields as diverse as stylish typesetting, feminist publishing, aerial performing and (most recently) emu oil entreprenurialism. Whimsically named for some mod London boutique an Anglophile among us had reportedly spotted while overseas, Granny was plopped weekly onto BSC's Snack Bar counters next to its only source of funding: coffee cans bearing the label: "Keep Granny Green."

In a fit of nostalgia I dug some copies of Granny out of my files today to remind myself of what was on our minds back then. What quickly caught my eye was a response of mine to the Hilltop News's front-page coverage of rising marijuana-use among 'Southern students.

It was by no means the hysteria-tinged journalism one might expect at a Bible-belt college; indeed, the same issue included an editorial calling for the decriminalization of pot-smoking. (We're still working on that one, Gene!) But still, I couldn't resist answering the Hilltop News article with the following expose that emblazoned the front page of Granny's February 29 edition.

A REPORT ON DOG KICKING AT 'SOUTHERN
by Howard Cruse

"Arf arf!"

"Yerp!"

"Bow wow! Grrr!"

These reactions summararize the results of a recent informal poll by Granny investigating the incidence of underground dog-kicking on the Birmingham-Southern campus.

It is estimated that 25% of the students at BSC have kicked or are planning to kick a dog in the near future, though only 18% have actually admitted or have been seen in the process of kicking and only 13% of the campus dogs have been kicked on an ascertainable 3% of their available anatomy.

Most students make a point of kicking dogs off-campus. although. a significant minority have been seen lurking on the boundaries kicking them back on again.

All students agree that dogs are readily available if you just know the drummer at the Smokey Bar & Grill. Or, if you prefer, you can follow the 'Southern students' example and order a fresh puppy from Miles Kimbell of Oshkosh. If that doesn't work, you can follow other 'Southern students' examples and trot back down to the Smokey Bar & Grill and kick drunks. "Man, like the fuzz can be a real hang-up," comments a jivey practioner, irritated at the stubborn dog hairs lodged in his cuffs. But all save a vocal canine minority agree that the lack of' a hangover make it preferable to drinking and more edifying than drowning cats or the communal roachsquashes that were the rage at this time last year.

Granny feels that dog-kicking contributes to a disunified and fragmented campus — particularly when the practice escalates to actual dismemberment. Granny plans to publish a series of articles on other illegal activities on campus such as miscegenation among Dr. Bailey's lukemic mice, child molestation, euthenasia, banana highs in the snack-bar, plus a shocking, first-person report on the incidence of statutory rape in the sculpture lab. In the meantime, Granny appreciates the invaluable help given her by her many informants among the dog-kicking set. And now. . .

YOU'RE ALL UNDER ARREST!

A postscript from Lulu:

"I do not consider this example of so-called "satire" to be ONE BIT FUNNY!!!"

May 16, 2006

Likenesses

I was rummaging through my flat files last week in search of something or other and I came upon a couple of my early efforts at celebrity portraiture.

One is a drawing of the legendary folk-singer Odetta; the other is a group caricature of the Mamas and Papas. Both drawings date from my undergraduate days at Birmingham-Southern College.

Those of the five who still walk the earth were forty years younger then than they are now and so was I. Whatever her actual age was in 1965, however, Odetta had already learned how to appear ageless and immortal onstage. A native of Birmingham whose family moved to California when she was six, she returned to play a concert at the city's Municipal Auditorium in '65, and my enterprising classmate Bill Barclift succeeded in getting a backstage pass for an interview that appeared the next year in Quad, BSC's student literary magazine. My drawing accompanied Bill's interview.

Odetta played a concert at MCLA here in North Adams last winter. A fierce blizzard that evening discouraged Eddie and me from getting to the show, but Odetta herself did not let the snowfall deter her from making the long drive from Boston so the show could go on.

Friends who saw her perform reported that the frail, elderly woman who appeared on the stage was in sharp visual contrast to the robust figure who knocked my Birmingham crowd dead forty years ago. The power of her voice and personality, though, remain as formidable as ever.

Time takes a toll on all of us, but some have a gift of seeming somehow undiminished by whatever the passing years can deal out.

I drew the Mamas and Papas during the 1967 "Summer of Love." My heart was in San Francisco that summer but my body was stuck holding down a summer job in the art department of the Birmingham News. My main duty was retouching wedding photographs for the paper's society section, but once or twice a week the art director would throw me a small spot illustration assignment.

The Mamas and Papas drawing stood out from all my other illustrations that summer, both for the prominence of its display (it was cover art for the paper's Sunday-supplement magazine) and its subject matter. Although I had taken a mere puff or two at that point on the stray marijuana cigarettes that passed my way and although my first LSD trip still lay several months in the future, my soul was already awash in the utopian euphoria that came with membership in a counterculture that was just then reaching the Bible Belt and was feeling its oats. Love of the Beatles from 1964 onward had been my first experience of feeling aligned with my generational peers instead of alienated. The zest and soaring harmonies of the Mamas and Papas represented everything that was spiritually liberating in that period. I relished drawing their faces, and if I had had a way to take part in the summer's pilgrimage to San Francisco, you can bet I would have happily worn "a flower in my hair" (as suggested in Scott McKenzie's hit single) without feeling the least bit silly.

Instead I remained in the Magic City, retouching photos and executing small drawings (plus that cover art) for the News. For a while I allowed myself to imagine that this grunt work might somehow open the door to drawing an actual comic strip for the paper — a strip whose success locally might conceivably lead to national syndication and fame. Maybe if I kept thoughts of hippie rebellion at bay I could manage to join the company of cartooning heros like Al Capp, Walt Kelly, and Charles M. Schulz.

When I mentioned such dreams to my boss, however, he quickly squelched them.

"I'll never let one of my staffers draw a regular feature," he informed me. "It would turn into some kind of "star" situation and the other staffers would be jealous."

As soon as he said that I knew that, while having a summer job was handy and retouching photos was not that abhorrent a way to pull in a buck, my future as a cartoonist clearly did not lie at the Birmingham News.

You see, I wanted to be a star.

June 10, 2006

Pulling "a Holekamp"

I attended high school (that school being Indian Springs School, a remarkable educational institution with interesting stories to tell that I'll save for other blog entries) with a funny and creative fellow with the memorable name of Bill Jones.

Bill and I lost touch with each other after graduation, but through ISS alumni newsletters I learned as years passed that he was devoting his working life to service as a Presbyterian minister in Tennessee. Having retired from that noble endeavor now, he has moved on to a second calling as a teller of tales on the storytelling circuit.

Recently (thanks to the good offices of Google) Bill reestablished contact with me and I learned that he has produced an array of CD recordings of his accounts of life experiences that are regularly performed live before audiences around the country.

Which brings me to today's topic. There is a bit player named "Howard" who is cited in passing in his tale of a long and long ago canoe trip Bill undertook with fellow ISS students in Quetico Provincial Park, a wondrous Canadian wilderness preserve north of Minnesota. That "Howard" in Bill's story would be me.

Listening to Bill's CD put me in a nostalgic mood, in the throes of which I have dug out the diary I myself kept during the same summer adventure described by my storytelling friend (who carried a more high-tech memory aid than I did into the woods: a trusty 8mm movie camera). I share with you today one of my journal's anecdotes about our trek through the roadless lake country up north.

July 12, 1961

On about the second day out, Jay Holekamp got a little too close to the water while drinking and fell in. I didn't see this; but it was described as a very dramatic immersion, with Jay fighting for balance while slowly slipping in; and everyone regretted that Bill Jones had not been nearby to capture the scene with his movie camera. Ever since, the action of accidentally falling partially or wholly into the water has been dubbed as “pulling a Holekamp," and Jay has pulled at least two more of them since.

Somehow out of this grew a game which several of the campers are continually playing. Any unfortunate and embarrassing accident wins a number of "points” for the victim, the value of points being obscure yet the collection of points being a matter of pride. The value of "pulling a Holekamp" varies with the degree of the mishap — slipping and wetting a foot is worth a paltry 5-or-so points, while a grand total of from 50 to 100 goes to the lucky fellow who plunges headfirst into the lake with a kettle of chicken soup. (Yesterday it was unanimously agreed that anyone dying on the trip would win the game. In the event of multiple deaths, the most points would go to the one who suffered the most!)

At the moment, to my knowledge, Jay himself is in the lead, but John Terry is not far behind. John got a big boost in points when he stepped in a cherry pie this morning.

Our 1961 canoe trip (untertaken under the expert guidance of Bob Pieh and his son Jerry (the onetime headmaster at Milton Academy), easily wins the title of the most outdoorsy and physically demanding experience of my nerdy cartoonist's life.

I both treasure the memory and would never dream of asking my body to do that much paddling, portaging, and aching again!

But that doesn't mean that the cry of a loon or an unexpected moose sighting won't always get my wilderness-loving juices flowing.

Hands off ANWR, Mr. Prez!

Above: myself and Bill Jones as immortalized in our Indian Springs student newspaper.

June 25, 2006

The Last Sunday in June

I'm writing this on the last Sunday in June, which means that within a short time the annual Gay Pride Parade (also known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade) will be underway in New York City.

Eddie and I aren't in New York City today so the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered throng, accompanied by the parents, cousins, friends, soulmates, and companions in civil rights activism who feel that the statement made by mass queer visibility every year remains an important statement to make, will have to fill up scores of blocks of Fifth Avenue without our physical assistance.

I have no doubt that New Yorkers will be up to the task.

Many germinal essays simmer in my mind today. They are filled with deeply felt passions and they want to be written right NOW, for THIS BLOG ENTRY. They are the rocks in my sandals that I don't know how to pry out from under my heel: the parts of gay liberation that aren't solved by the presence of Will and Grace on TV, the roiling, angering parts that remain stubbornly unfinished these several decades since the Stonewall Riots (of which I was so unlikely and substantively unhelpful a witness back in the summer of 1969).

But frustratingly, I have no time available to compose any of these today.

So I will have to let the photograph above, taken in June of 1979, serve as my symbolic Happy Gay Day greeting as well as a placeholder for commentaries I hope life lets me write in the future about the place of LGBT Americans in George W. Bush's America — no to mention the place occupied by our LGBT cousins in various countries around the world.

The snapshot above, snapped by our friend David Hutchison at the Gay Pride Parade that took place a mere couple of months after Eddie and I first met, brings back a host of memories. Of youth. Of righteous zeal. Of excitement and camaraderie. And of the scores of friends not seen in this photograph but who were also marching on Fifth Avenue that day.

Many of them we hadn't met yet on the day Hutch snapped this photo. Too many subsequently died in the AIDS epidemic. Hutch has died too — although it was pancreatic cancer that got him before his HIV had time to.

But many more of our friends from both that era and eras since remain alive today — to the consternation no doubt of the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, "Rev." Fred Phelps and his less obviously vicious fellow homophobes.

Those surviving friends who are still in New York and those in any number of other cities large enough to host demonstrations of this kind are likely to be participating today in the fleeting creation of temporary cities within cities in which, if only for a few exciting hours, it will be the heterosexuals who are in the minority and the gays who fill the straight folks' fields of vision.

And we will be saying loudly once again what we seem to have to say over and over again no matter how tiring it gets to have to repeat the obvious decade after decade: We're here. Qe're queer. Get Used to it.

July 14, 2006

Out, Out Damned Steps

Their days were numbered from the beginning. You could see it in the arch of the North Adams building inspector's eyebrow when he first laid eyes on them them.

He didn't hold up the purchase of our house on their account, but neither did the inspector sugar-coat reality. Eventually — by which he meant significantly sooner than Eddie's and my bank account would prefer — the aging, crumbling cement steps in front of our house were going to have to go.

So inexorably has their decline continued in the two years since we assumed ownership of our home that desperate measures have recently been called for to protect public safety. Specifically, since last winter Eddie and I have had to keep two flower pots permanently and conspicuously placed so as to steer visiting friends and pizza deliverers away from the most dangerously eroded portion of the ascent (see the top left photo below).

Such half-measures couldn't go on forever, though, and as the succeeding three snapshots reveal, this was the week when we finally bit the bullet and set heavy yellow machinery loose to devour our familiar family landmark as Godzilla devoured Tokyo.

The worst was accomplished in less than an hour. Now, thanks to the expert carpentry of Lance Howard (seen above midway through his construction job), newer and decidedly better wooden steps are materializing to make the climb to front-yard level a breezier experience.

Our flower pots served us well and for that we are grateful. But it's time now for them to move on to more conventional uses.

July 17, 2006

Trips Past and Present

Above: a panel from my comic strip about "That Night At The Stonewall" and a snapshot of my stage alter ego Trip Langely in rehearsal.

A "trip" (of the LSD variety) is what I and some friends were winding down from on a June night in 1969 when, while wandering through the streets of Greenwich Village and admiring the undulating colors of Tiffany lamps in store windows, we happened upon the Stonewall riots in progress.

And this weekend I learned that, by a quirky coincidence that is of no consequence in the least, a young actor named "Trip" (or Trip Langely, to be specific) will be portraying my trip in a production of Carol Polcovar's stage docudrama My Mother Told Me I Was Different: Voices From The Stonewall Rebellion, which will be playing at the Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex in Manhattan through the weekend of July 21-23 under the direction of pioneering gay playwright and director David Gaard.

I met David when we both participated in the Chip Deffaa Invitational Theatre Festival several summers ago and we've kept in touch since then, so David alerted me to the fact that my serendipitous and acid-soaked brush with the historic Stonewall riots has been woven into a corner of the larger tapestry of more important first-person accounts that make up Carol's stirring (to judge by the script, which David emailed to me on Saturday) montage of testimonies.

Mine is a but the tiniest of threads in the play's tapestry — and rightly so, given my fringe standing as the hallucinating observer of a cultural revolution in the making those many years ago. Had I been courageous enough to leap into the fray and hurl a flaming garbage can or two, I would have given Trip a little more drama to work with.

But it's always nice to be included, and I wish Trip and the rest of the play's cast the best as they bring to fresh life an evening in my personal history that remains indelible (if shimmeringly indistinct in its down-to-earth details) in my mind.

Below: Playwright Carol Polcovar and director David Gaard confer backstage.

August 2, 2006

Twelve Steps

A loyal reader has reminded me that I never let you see how the new steps in front of our house (shown as works-in-progress in my July 14 post) came out once construction was finally completed. So let me take a moment to rectify that oversight.
BEFORE
AFTER
As you can see, the design is simple rather than showy, the grander Hello Dolly-ish staircase alternative being beyond our means. But outdoor staircases are not really built for dramatic entrances anyway, although had singing bellhops and designer gowns been put to use Eddie and I could probably have drawn respectful applause from one or two of our neighbors.

The new steps are blessedly sturdy, serviceable, up-to-code, and each riser is actually the same height as the ones above and below it,which is a major improvement over their stumble-prone crumbly-concrete predecessors.

The bank on each side has been re-seeded and will, we've been assured, someday be green again.

August 24, 2006

Gum With The Wind (Part 1)

Last week I heard from a talented Nevadan named Jeaux Janovsky, whose mind was warped decades ago by the Garbage Pail Kids craze that swept the nation in the mid-'80s.

I use the term "warped" in the most complimentary way possible, since GPK exposure at an impressionable age apparently generated cartoonists with appealingly perverse comedic outlooks as copiously in its day as did exposure to the Kurtzman-era Mad magazine a generation earlier.

If you want to see what the creative upshot has been for Jeaux, pay a visit to his Jeauxland website or watch him chat about the orphaned pirate spawns in his Peg-Leg Orphanage. But Jeaux's charming work is not really the topic of the day. Instead, let me clear something up about me and those Garbage Pail mutants spawned by Topps Chewing Gum.

In his first email Jeaux complimented me for being a card-carrying contributor to the GPK phenomenon. He is far from the first to do so, and I am not above basking occasionally in the reflected glory that comes with that history. But I really should put this matter into perspective once and for all.

My involvement in the GPK scene was truly marginal and brief. Other cool cartoonists (including my friend and fellow underground comix veteran Jay Lynch) also had a hand in the GPK series before it ended. They did themselves proud and we all had fun.

But that being said, the true glory for GPK illustrations should rightly and almost exclusively go to John Pound, whose brilliant paintings (as exemplified by the sample card on the left below) set the standard for the series and merit comparison to the hilarious work that Will Elder did with Kurtzman in their best collaborations.

To the right of Pound's aforemented depiction of Itchy Richie is an example of my mock-certificate art that appeared on a series of oversized GPK cards Topps published late in the GPK arc. Mine were mere back-of-the-card divertissements (the "B-sides," in vinyl phonograph-record parlance, to John Pound's "A-side" offerings.

This is not to denigrate my own drawings. They are perfectly good Howard Cruse drawings that I don't at all disown. I'm especially fond of the certificate border that I drew for these cards — inspired as it obviously is by the manic Kurtzman borders that wrapped around the first few issues of Mad after it metamorphosed from comic book to magazine.

But let's face it, I've never pretended to have the painting chops called for if you're going to play in John Pound's playground.

Still, I was happy to have the gig, which was the last of a string of cartooning assignments that came my way during the early days of my career, beginning shortly after I moved from Birmingham to New York City.

Maybe I'll talk about some of those other Topps jobs (including my stint drawing Bazooka Joe comic strips) in some future installment of this blog.

September 11, 2006

9/11 Onward

It's been as frustrating as hell to have been sidetracked by an ungodly schedule from posting more frequently to this blog lately when so much has happened to make my blood boil.

Now here we are on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. If ever there was a day for considered reflections on the state of things, this is it. But no. Cartooning deadlines call.

I hope soon to resume more regular posts, but for now let me offer a reprise of my essay called "Two Years, Two Wars, and One Dog Ago." I posted it on my web site on August 9, 2003, as that year's 9-11 anniversary approached. Sad to say, everything that was ominous about the George W. Bush presidency then has only grown more frightening since — and yet the country gave him four additional years to wreck the nation's Constitution by re-electing him in 2004.

Maybe. Depending on what really happened with those Ohio voting machines.

In the wake of 9/11, I was numbed by a mixture of grief for the victims and outrage at the whole human race for not having evolved beyond such savagery, I wrote back then. And I was anxious at the thought of what hay our politicians might be poised to make from the tragedy while a jolted citizenry was preoccupied with private fears. What a golden opportunity to use public anger for unsavory ends!

I would be proud of my prescience if a lot of other people had not figured out Bush's agenda with alarm just as urgent as mine by the time the Decider's administration was two years along. But America, ever vulnerable to swift-boating manipulation, let the steamroller roll on.

My 2003 essay is too long for a blog post, but if you'd like to see what I wrote in its entirety, just click on this link.

It has taken a compliant and largely conscienceless Republican-led Congress to allow things to go as far as they have already. Will America be any smarter at the polls this November than it was in 2004?

Time will tell.

November 22, 2006

The Lady from Paradise Island

I don't get that many chances to draw iconic mainstream comic book characters without having to worry that some humorless industry lawyer may be lurking nearby looking to make a pinch for copyright infringement.
So when author and comics writer Andy Mangels asked me to contribute a drawing of durable superheroine Wonder Woman to the October charity auction Andy was then organizing in Portland (two local shelters for battered women and children — Raphael House of Portland and Bradley-Angle House — were the beneficiaries), I could hardly pass up the opportunity.

The event was a big success (like, $15,405.33 got raised!!) and lotsa artists drew Wonder Woman in lotsa different ways. I myself drew inspiration for my drawing from the Charles Moulton version of the character who zipped about in glass airplanes during my childhood. I'm out of touch, I confess, with more recent incarnations. Indeed, I jumped off the Wonder Woman train way back in the late-'60s, when someone at DC Comics decided to dress the crimefighter from Paradise Island in a power pantsuit. I never looked back.

Not that there's anything wrong with being butch in a pantsuit. But that wasn't the Wonder Woman with whom I bonded at a formative age. I wasn't ready to go along with any slick fashion upgrades just because some editor at DC Comics had grown weary with pre-feminist retro. By that point I was preoccupied with underground comix anyway. Superheroics were no longer on my radar.

I was moved just now to check Wonder Woman's present-day web site, by the way. (The comic; not the tv show.) I see that the pantsuit look is long gone and that WW's patriotic stars and spangles have been restored. A positive nod to tradition, for sure, although the busty babe now carrying the banner, although stunningly drawn, doesn't quite capture the old ambience for me. The Wonder Woman I grew up with would never have bothered to maximize her cleavage while striking fear in the hearts of evildoers.

Maybe if I hadn't been a gay kid the presence or absence of cleavage would have carried more weight for me. But my head was in a different place. It was Batman who strummed my strings. Ah, to live the life Robin led and reside in a stately manor with a rich, buff, and handsome mentor like Bruce Wayne! Ah, to wear a yellow cape and textured green panties on the streets of Gotham City and not be embarrassed!

Still, Wonder Woman enjoyed a real if muted place in my gayboy heart. She wasn't a scarily alluring sexpot who made me feel inadequate like the girls then reaching puberty among my junior high classmates. And I appreciated the slight stiffness of the ink lines with which her comics were drawn in those early days. They reminded me of the inelegant but earnest strokes I had begun learning to render with the Rapidograph technical pen my father purchased for me once he saw that I was getting serious about my cartooning.

I can't claim that the rendition of Wonder Woman I contributed to Andy's auction is free of sexpot iconography, of course. That's my parodist side being compulsively impudent. But satire wasn't on my mind when I read Wonder Woman comics in my youth. I was a willing receptacle for their fantasy; it was as simple and as indelible as that.

Postcript: I was happy to learn this week that the high bidder for my Wonder Woman drawing in the Portland fundraiser was my cartooning colleague David Kelly. David, besides being a great cartoonist and a friend of mine, is the longtime co-editor with Robert Kirby of the Boy Trouble comics 'zine series. (Selections from that series have recently been collected in book form by Green Candy Press, I should mention in passing.)

David emailed me himself to tell me he had bought my drawing (as well as a second WW as imagined by Paige Braddock of Jane's World fame) and to show me the photo he took of himself holding his two purchases.
I was momentarily disoriented when I looked closely. Why is Wonder Woman holding her rope in a different hand in David's snapshot than in my artwork? Then it occurred to me that when you take a picture of yourself in a mirror, you tend to get a mirror-image. Duh.

December 18, 2006

Learning and Teaching

For once I had the presence of mind to come away from one of my forays into academia with an informal class shapshot. Seen above from left to right: there's Toby; Aaron; Kim; Amber; Zac (standing behind Amber); Tabatha; Alyssa (standing behind Tabatha); me; the two Joshes (one seated, the other standing next to me); Justin; and Andy.

Last Wednesday I bade a holiday farewell to the creative MCLA students who have gamely endured my cartooning tutelage for the last three months. They've been a good-humored, hard-working bunch and I will miss their weekly company.

Time will tell whether they'll look back on my Art 207 class as having been a worthwhile expenditure of their tuition money. I hope so. The fact that MCLA's Fine and Performing Arts Department invited me to teach the course at all is in stark contrast to the situation I confronted when I began my college years.

By now I've gotten used to the enlightened attitudes about cartooning fostered by specialized schools like Vermont's Center for Cartoon Studies, not to mention the School of Visual Arts in New York where I first taught at the college level, or the Ringling School of Art and Design in Florida, where I spent several days as a guest artist a couple of years ago. If dedicated art schools aren't hip to changing times, who will be? But a cartooning course at a small state college in rural Massachusetts? It's downright refreshing!

And to be fair, in all likelihood the art department of today's Birmingham-Southern College, my own alma mater, has moved beyond rigidity by now. But the suspicion with which cartooning as an academic discipline was viewed back in 1962 was daunting. In fact, a claim that cartooning could be viewed as any kind of "discipline" at all would only draw hoots of derision.

I felt the sting of this prejudice myself while briefly an art major at Birmingham-Southern in the 1960s. A couple of my art teachers were open-minded about my enthusiasm of drawing funny pictures that talked in word balloons, but my relationship with the Art Department Chair was a tense one. The guy was a true believer in the supremacy of abstract expressionism. He had little use for young artists like me who turned to the funny pages for creative inspiration.

Representationalism was dead, he preached. Paint should be seen as mere paint, not a means for communicating pictures. True art was about shapes. Areas of color. Flat patterns. Textures. Cartoons were trivial decorations best suited for disposable cocktail napkins.

I became a Drama/Speech Major.

Fortunately, any desire BSC's head art honcho may have had to show me the error of my ways was a lost cause from the word go. He arrived in my own universe far too late, since I had become irretrievably infected by the cartooning bug long before entering college.

For the most part during my childhood I was forced to learn by trial and error, on my own. I pored over the newspaper comics pages and copied what I saw. I read comic books constantly and absorbed their lessons about story structure intuitively. Actual instruction by an expert was nowhere available.

True, I found helpful advice of a very basic kind in the few Walter T. Foster booklets that addressed the topic of cartooning, but the scope of these amateur-oriented manuals left me hungry for insights with a more professional perspective. My dad had spilled the beans about drawing pictures being a way that some grown-ups earned their livings. Seized instantly by a determination to join their ranks, I was a very impatient little nine-year-old!

Then, by accident, I learned of the existence of the Famous Artists Cartoon Course.

I recounted the circumstances surrounding that discovery in the inaugural installment of a column I wrote regularly for Comics Scene magazine a quarter-century ago. What follow is a portion of that column that describes how the FA Course found its way first into my consciousness and then into my life. (If you'd like to read the entire column — including its description of my visit to Milton Caniff's studio when I was 16 — you can find it elsewhere on this web site.)

...One summer afternoon during those Springville days, Dad said on impulse, "Let's visit Tom Sims!"

Sims was writer of some of the post-Segar Popeye strips. He lived in Ohatchee, another small Alabama town from which he produced a homespun syndicated column called Ohatchee U.SA. He was the closest thing to a comic strip pro within driving distance.

So we drove to Ohatchee. My older brother wasn't along; it was just Dad and me. Just us two cartoonists. We didn't telephone first; we asked directions from the local townsfolk and pulled into Sims' driveway unannounced.

Sims was generous with his time and with compliments for my drawing samples. But something lay on the worktable of his assistant that I remember more vividly than the day's conversation. It was the set of textbooks for the Famous Artists Cartooning Course.

This course was prepared with the assistance of a stellar array of cartoonists from the fifties, most of whom are still active and remain stars today. Milton Caniff, Rube Goldberg, AI Capp, Willard Mullin and Virgil Partch were among the luminaries.

The three large volumes comprising the 24 lessons were wondrous treasuries of instruction and lore. I lusted after them instantly.

Dad saw that I would not be satisfied until I had taken the course myself. But the price was out of his reach.

Time passed. At 13 I began to move out of Springville' s orbit. By virtue of a scholarship, I was able to enroll at a private high school near Birmingham named Indian Springs.

At Indian Springs, great emphasis was placed on the development of a student's individual potentials. Note was taken of my cartooning bent, and soon I was decorating the pages of the school newspaper, designing posters for everybody-and-his-rival in the campus political campaigns, and rendering comic strips in French for my French class bulletin board.

One day Dr. Armstrong, the school's director, asked me what I would most wish for, given access to a magic genie or some such agent.

"I'd like to take the Famous Artists Cartooning Course,” I replied.

Nothing more was said then, but a few months later he called me to his office to tell me that a friend of the school, under guarantee of anonymity, had chosen to donate the money for me to take the course.

I still don't know the identity of my benefactor.

[NOTE: That is to say: I didn’t when I wrote these words back in 1981. I know more now. The giver was Dr. Armstrong himself.]

Many superficial aspects of the FA course are dated by today's standards, but the basics were solidly there. During the three years that I spent working through the course's 24 lessons, I had to root out lazy habits accumulated from years of copying the surfaces of other artists' drawings. I didn't complete the course a polished cartoonist, but the groundwork for a more professional approach and self-teaching techniques had been provided.

* * *

I still have my dog-eared copies of the three Famous Artists Course textbooks. I turned back to them for inspiration as I embarked on my recent teaching adventure at MCLA.

I can only hope that what I have offered in the classroom these last three months was a tenth as valuable to at least a few of my students as that correspondence course was to me 45 years ago.

After tackling its 24 lessons on top of my regular studies throughout my sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school, I was more than prepared to brush aside any snobbish challenges to my art form's validity by the time I entered college in 1962.

I still had plenty to learn about cartooning, but I knew without question that the cartoons I was making were art.

January 8, 2007

Two Portraits

Once in a blue moon an opportunity arises for me to do a portrait. (I mean, one that other people besides Eddie see.) A couple of those blue-moon occasions have arisen since we relocated to New England.
The subject of the drawing above (shown next to the snapshot it's based on) is my longtime friend Nicky Heron. It's included in a group exhibit called "Here's Looking At You" that features portraits of Berkshire personalities by Berkshire artists and is currently on display at Gallery 51 in North Adams. I call the drawing "Nicky In The Kitchen."

Nicky and I first crossed paths as fellow participants (albeit from slightly different collegiate generations) in the Birmingham-Southern College Theatre. After years thereafter spent geographically separated and only barely in touch, we've recently found ourselves neighbors again here in the Berkshires. She and her husband Jason Brown are both blessed with too many talents to enumerate, but prominent among their present family enterprises is BMA Studios, under whose auspices audio books like their most recent offering, Henry James's The Aspern Papers, are lovingly produced out of their impressive basement sound studio in Monterey.

When I first met Nicky she was playing a winsome prostitute named Karen in a one-act play called "The Old Man Dies" that I had written while still an undergraduate. Brief aside: My most influential mentor, BSC's one-time Drama Department chairman Arnold Powell, once remarked in response to a couple of my scripts that student playwrights who have never come close to knowing an actual flesh-and-blood prostitute seem irresistibly driven to populate their plays with them. Point taken.

Anyway, my college days were behind me when Cheryl Thacker (another longtime friend from college, Cheryl has since distinguished herself as a professional lighting designer) chose to direct "The Old Man Dies" as her Director's Lab student project. Naturally, I returned from New York to see it the result.

My eyes mist up when I recall what a cluster of old friends joined forces to mount that little workshop production in 1969. Of course, since they were my friends and not yours, I won't demand that your eyes get similarly misty. But take my word for it, if you had known this crowd you'd be misting up right along with me.

Drawing Nicky's portrait was a perfect way to celebrate her re-emergence as part of my present life. And there's been an interesting sidebar to our catch-up conversations: I had somehow missed learning previously that Nicky's grandfather, the formidably named Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, was a founder of DC Comics, under whose Paradox Press imprint my graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby was published. The family lore about Nicky's granddad reveals a larger-than-life historical personage whose exploits ranged well beyond the comics realm. A fascinating biography of this guy is obviously waiting to be written.

*****

I started this blog entry by referencing two portraits I've done lately, so I'll quickly share the second one with you before I go (see below). Its subject, Will Eisner, will be familiar to any of you who have arrived at this blog because of an interest in comics. Much written about and widely admired, Eisner was a giant of the sequential art medium who was still producing new and exciting works when death finally wrestled him away from his drawing board at the age of 87.

Will was a professional colleague with whom I chatted, talked shop, and occasionally argued (always amicably) at the comics cons and conferences where our paths crossed. When he passed away last year, I contributed the drawing below to an issue of Comic Book Artist magazine that was devoted to Eisner tributes.

About Yesterday & Today

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Loose Cruse: The Weblog in the Yesterday & Today category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Squirly & Earl is the previous category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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