“You’re So HOT When You Talk Spanish At Me!”

"My Hypnotist" appeared in black-and-white in the July-September 2006 issue of Claro que sí cómics, as opposed to the full-color treatment it received in Tim Fish’s Young Bottom In Love anthology. Some might call that a loss.

On the other hand, in Claro Que Si my characters spoke Spanish, which is more than I’m able to do.

Why am I mentioning this nearly two years after the beautifully produced Barcelona-based gay comics magazine’s cover date? Because through an oversight on the part of Claro que si‘s publisher Ediciones La Cupula (which has also published two Wendel translations for Spanish consumption), a copy of the issue in question was never sent to me when it came out.

The unintentional lapse was promptly rectified, I’m happy to say, once I thought to inquire about my story’s fate recently. I received a copy of the magazine by mail a few days ago. It looks handsome, indeed, with beautiful Ralf König artwork on the cover and loads of terrific comics inside (none of which I can read, but the pictures arte to die for).

And I should add that there was no parallel delay in paying me for the translation rights. That crucial element of the transaction was accomplished swiftly and in full at the time that we struck an agreement.

Which is more than I can say for Dolmen Editorial, La Cupula’s competitor, which licensed Stuck Rubber Baby years ago, produced as beautiful a Spanish-language edition as any author could ask, boasted about the Saló del Còmic de Barcelona Award my book garnered, and then (according to a DC insider) allegedly sabotaged everything by being so recalcitrant and uncommunicative about the book’s sales figures that DC Comics ultimately rescinded the translation rights, leaving yet another of my books in limbo.

The same thing happened with the Italian collection called Happy Boys & Girls, whose publisher Coniglio Editore screwed the 2006 anthology’s six lesbian and gay contributors in one stroke with nary an apology or response to complaints. In that case it was not only "My Hypnotist" but my story "Dirty Old Lovers" and a bunch of Wendel strips that got stolen. As was true with the Spanish Stuck Rubber Baby, the book itself was nicely produced, which gives one mixed feelings as one nurses one’s wounds. It’s easy to imagine Happy Boys & Girls being purchased in good faith by innocent Italian readers with no knowledge of Coniglio’s lack of ethics, understandably assuming that the book’s contributors were being treated respectfully.

How many readers purchased our book with that misapprehension? Absent our promised advances or royalty reports, there’s no way for contributors Leanne Franson, Paige Braddock, Tim Fish, Roberta Gregory, Tom Bouden or me to know.

It’s enough to make an author fearful of allowing his work to seep across national boundaries—until he or she remembers that getting periodically shafted by deadbeat publishers is a familiar experience for most authors at home as well as abroad. At what stage of their lives, one wonders, do these exploiters, whatever their nationalities, cast aside their consciences?

Pinning blame is difficult in cases like these, since oftentimes the individuals who facilitated the licensing of translation rights or oversaw the books’ subsequent productions — in Dolmen’s case that would be SRB‘s co-editors Jaume Vaquer and Vicente Garcia; in the Coniglio instance we’re talking about erotic cartoonist Valeriano ("Wally Rainbow") Elfodiluce (brace yourself if you click on this link; Elfodiluce’s comics are mucho X-rated) — were either freelance subcontractors or employees who had departed their respective companies before the bad behavior manifested. All three of the aforementioned folks expressed great dismay when they were contacted, and none of the three felt that they presently had any power to make amends.

Fortunately, there’s nothing about my experience with Ediciones La Cupula to give the nation of Spain or Spanish publishing bad names. In contrast to the sour experiences just desribed, from beginning to end I was treated by La Cupula with the respect and courtesy that should be universal in all parts of the world.

Thanks, guys. You really didn’t hafta.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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5 Responses to “You’re So HOT When You Talk Spanish At Me!”

  1. SonyaSunny says:

    Hello,
    Awesome find.

    Good Luck
    SonyaSunny

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  3. Howard Cruse says:

    Thanks for your note, Goio, and for reviewing my book. Even though I cannot read your review because my Spanish language skills are inadequate, I genuinely appreciate your willingness to call attention to my book.

    It’s unfortunate that Dolmen has created unnecessary obstacles between Stuck Rubber Baby and readers in Spain who might enjoy it, but I am glad that the book itself is packaged so tastefully and attractively and I still hope that a reasonable number of people in your country find a way to experience it.

    Best regards,
    Howard

  4. Goio says:

    Dear Mr. Cruse
    I just have known you have this blog, and I was very interested in your comments about the Spanish edition of Stuck Rubber Baby. I see now that maybe my translated issue into Spanish by Dolmen Editorial could be an oddity in the future!! Anyway, I admired very much this work of yours and I even wrote a review about it in a local free magazine owned by a GLBT Association. You can check it in this link:

    http://rapidshare.com/files/121973669/Stuck.jpg.html

    I am sorry it is in Spanish, and maybe it is too much for me to think that you could be interested in a remote Spanish reviewer of your work, but I felt I could not leave this without communicating to you since I saw your blog…

    My best wishes,
    goio

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