Excerpts from some online review posted about
Stuck Rubber Baby
since the 15th anniversary edition was published
"Timelessly involving ... Stuck Rubber Baby emphasizes the turbulence of the times, and how people perpetually strive to remake themselves from within the safety of a group..."
Click here to see the complete A.V. Club review
"The first image we see in Howard Cruse’s 1995 Stuck Rubber Baby is of a smiling John and Jacqueline Kennedy walking arm in arm. It sets the book in what Cruse’s main character, Toland Polk, calls 'Kennedytime', that happy precipice upon which the US teetered between the end of the ‘50s and the whirlwind of assassinations and demonstrations of the ‘60s. These things are sign posts, easy summaries of the era that are well-worn in story and art. It’s easy to feel at home in that era whether you lived through it or not because the battles fought and the lessons learned then still reverberate through nearly every aspect of American society...."
Click here to see the complete PopMatters review
"This reprinting calls attention to the masterpiece [Stuck Rubber Baby] is, not only in queer literature, but also as an exemplary work in the graphic novel genre, one that deserves to stand as a model of the form for young cartoonists straight and gay."
"...This story highlights that people, regardless of who they are, what they do, or what they are, need to be treated with respect. The era of segregation should never be forgotten, and the lessons of the time should be in people's minds today, as they watch the news, and decide about what issues they care about. You're not going to get away with reading Stuck Rubber Baby without having to think about these kinds of issues, and I think that's a wonderful thing about this important work, just as poignant and relevant today as it was when it was released fifteen years ago."
Click here to see the complete iFanboy review
"Alongside the (far too few) great literary comics, Maus, Fun Home, even Watchmen, Stuck Rubber Baby remains the oft-neglected stepchild, and it deserves far better. The book is just as good, perhaps better, than any comic you’ve ever read."
What writers and cartoonists said about
Stuck Rubber Baby is cut-to-the-bones honesty. It's about people who are bonded by their differences. It's about the acceptance and compassionate understanding that only exists between the greatest of friends. This novel, like an electro-surge, cuts and heals at the same time. I didn't want it to end.
Stuck Rubber Baby is a remarkable achievement, a story so richly drawn -- in both senses of the word -- that it will pull you, headlong, into a bottomless world of hopes, fears, dreams, and the all-too-real prejudice witnessed by its author. It may be fiction, but every frame of Howard Cruse's epic graphic novel rings unforgettably true. Highly recommended.
In this tale that we might call Maus meets Giovanni's Room, Howard Cruse takes graphic storytelling to a new level. Stuck Rubber Baby distinguishes itself by its honesty, maturity, self- criticism of its own self-pity, in short by being complex as well as complicated. It's at least as sad as it is funny, while grappling with the largest themes in America: Race, sex, the South, the whole vexed question of how and why we love those we love (and how we fail them). In all these ways, Stuck Rubber Baby reads more like a novel than any other graphic story I've ever read.
In this book, Howard Cruse explores the structures of racism and homophobia with a complexity that resonates in his astonishingly intricate drawings. Reading Stuck Rubber Baby is an acutely sensuous experience, from its powerful visuals to the virtually audible jazz lyrics and freedom songs that weave in and out of the narrative. With unflinching honesty and meticulous craft, Cruse brings the confusion and exhilaration of social upheaval to vivid life.
Harvey Pekar in the Chicago Tribune: Barren of superheroes or talking animals, Stuck Rubber Baby certainly isn't standard comic book fare. The people most likely to enjoy the book will be enthusiasts of good contemporary fiction, although most of them are unused to shopping for comics. But those who do seek out Stuck Rubber Baby are in for an edifying experience.
What a difference a location makes! I was around in those very early 60s that Howard Cruse so beautifully delineates in Stuck Rubber Baby, but my 60s and his were worlds apart. Marching for civil rights, attending vigils for slain civil rights workers, was easy in the Los Angeles of 1963. No police dogs tore at marchers, no fire hoses washed us out. Our liberal churches were in no danger from bombs, there was no Klan to fear. But Howard's visual epic brought home to me a South I'd never experienced, made me realize the reality of what we marched for in safe Southern California. [Stuck Rubber Baby is] a real novel that just happens to be told in pictures!...Whether they are loosely based on his own memories or those of friends, or even taken from the collective memory of the South in the early 60s, the cast of Stuck Rubber Baby is living, breathing flesh and blood. --
Stuck Rubber Baby is the new Comic For Folks Who Never Touch The Stuff! Howard Cruse is the coolest cartoonist ever! This book rivals To Kill A Mockingbird! If James Baldwin could crosshatch, he'd have done Stuck Rubber Baby!
From 1995 reviews
The next time you encounter a troubled gay teenager (or anyone troubled about sexual orientation, for that matter), thrust into his or her hands a copy of Howard Cruse's comic book novel, Stuck Rubber Baby.
For many, the '60s civil rights movement marched in step with the search for self. Howard Cruse's Stuck Rubber Baby shows how heavy those steps sometimes were.
[Stuck Rubber Baby] is bravura storytelling...made specific, pungent, and singular by its setting in the Movement-era South. --Artforum International
A strange and wonderful graphic coming-of-age novel.
[Cruse is] a natural-born storyteller, gracefully juggling more than a dozen major characters and a rich, intricate plot that spans years, with a command of the visual vocabulary and capabilities of comics that his earlier work has only hinted at. --College Music Journal
[Cruse's] revisionist history provides both an activist blast from the past as well as a fresh artistic take on the intersection of sex and society.
Maus, move over; as a great graphic novel, you've met for match.
Told in the tradition of the Southern Gothic imagination, [Stuck Rubber Baby] is at heart deeply spiritual and, like the work of Flannery O'Connor, approaches its subject with dark humor and compassion, finding the deepest meaning -- even political and personal destiny -- in the details of ordinary life.
[Stuck Rubber Baby] is Americana on a par with William Faulkner and Horton Foote, and it packs the kind of epic sweep and historical resonance that Forest Gump can only wish it possessed.
PARADOX PRESS SOFTCOVER ISBN 1-56389-255-3
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